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Senior Care Safety: Coping with Hoarding during the Holiday Season

Senior Care in Wayland, MA

Garage storageGetting into a reliable pattern in your elder care journey with your aging loved ones can be a fantastic way to make sure that your efforts stay consistent, structured, and reliable, and that you get everything done efficiently and successfully. Sticking to a routine all the time, however, can also make you put on “blinders” to certain things that happen throughout their home. These things that you have been missing can all become more evident, however, when something major changes your routine and you are forced to notice everything that is going on around you. One of these major changes is the holiday season.

The holiday season is a time when you are likely to not only spend more time in your parents’ home, but to spend more time going through areas of the home that you do not access often, such as the attic, basement, or storage closets. One issue that family caregivers may notice at this time of year is hoarding. This behavioral issue becomes more common in later years when mental and emotional health concerns, as well as cognitive limitations, tend to increase. Hoarding becomes a form of maintaining and expressing control, dealing with feelings of disconnection and loss, and coping with thoughts of mortality and concerns about the future, all of which can become more pronounced during the holidays. While this can help your seniors feel better, it can become a potentially problematic situation.

Hoarding can fill the home with clutter, putting your parents at greater risk of falls, injuries, and pest and germ problems. Confronting this type of behavior can be awkward and uncomfortable, but it is important for making sure that your seniors maintain their health and well-being during the holiday season and throughout the year.

Use these tips, and share them with your loved ones’ non-medical caregiver, to help maintain your seniors’ safety and health through managing their hoarding behaviors this holiday season:

  • Be aware. While you are going through your parents’ home taking out decorations, hiding gifts, and cleaning for holiday guests, pay attention to the condition of the home. Check for piles of junk mail, multiples of the same item, or collections of strange things such as empty bottles or newspapers.
  • Go a little at a time. Eliminate the hoard a little bit at a time so that it is not so shocking to your seniors. Help them decide which items to donate or throw away a few items each time you visit, but avoid making it a big deal to your loved ones as this could cause them to overreact and become even more obsessive about their behaviors.
  • Talk about it. If you have started noticing hoarding behaviors and want to talk to your parents about it, take a casual approach first. Garbage piling up or a closet full of empty soda bottles may worry you, but if you get upset about it, it could lead to your parents getting defensive and upset. Instead, casually mention what you have noticed and ask for an explanation. Try to gently explain your worries and offer your help cleaning up. Focus more on your concerns about the consequences of the behavior, such as them getting hurt, pests coming in the home, or guests not being comfortable, rather than the behavior itself so that they do not feel like you are attacking or trying to control them.

If you or an aging loved one are considering non-medical in-home care in Metrowest Boston, MA, call Griswold Home Care and speak to one of our caring staff members today. Call (781) 559-0073