Having a family member with dementia comes with many challenges. Among them are the behavior changes that often occur as dementia progresses. One particularly challenging dementia-related behavior is hoarding. However, when family caregivers know more about the behavior and how to respond to it, it can be easier to manage.
What is Hoarding?
Hoarding occurs when people collect and keep items. Dementia patients may be reluctant to let go of things that have no use, keeping them in drawers and piles. They might not want to throw away useless papers or old magazines. Or, they may purchase large amounts of food and stockpile it. Hoarding usually occurs when a dementia patient is in the early or middle stages of the disease. Part of the hoarding behavior may also involve hiding items. Unfortunately, it can be hard to recover those items since the person might not remember where they put them.
What Causes Hoarding?
A person with dementia might start hoarding for a number of reasons. Some of them are:
- Control: Dementia can cause a person to feel out of control. Hoarding and hiding things may help them to feel like they have control of something.
- Fear or Paranoia: People with dementia sometimes worry about being robbed. This can lead dementia patients to hide things they value. However, when they forget where they put the item, they may accuse family caregivers or others of stealing them.
- Cognitive Issues: The loss of the ability to perform multi-step tasks can sometimes cause hoarding. They may wind up with a huge pile of mail because they lack the ability to go through it and take the appropriate actions. Or, they might collect medications because they cannot remember how to take them or why they were taking them in the first place.
Elder Care Can Help with Hoarding
An elder care provider can help manage hoarding behaviors. Elder care agencies try to match their staff to the older adults they help, so the elder care provider often has a great deal of experience in caring for people with dementia, including handling their behaviors. As a result, elder care providers often know techniques and strategies that make dealing with difficult behaviors easier. Some of the techniques an elder care provider may use are:
- Creating a hoarding drawer or box where the senior can place things they value.
- Supervise the person to learn their hiding places.
- Check known hiding places for missing items, so they can help the senior “find” the things they are missing.
In addition to assisting with difficult behaviors, elder care providers can also make life better for seniors with dementia in a number of ways. Elder care providers can prepare healthy meals, help keep the house clean, and assist with other household tasks. Elder care providers can also engage the older adult in activities they enjoy, which can help reduce boredom and frustration. Finally, an elder care provider can give family caregivers peace of mind because they know that their loved one is safe even when they are not able to be with them.
When you are in need of care for a senior loved one, consider senior care provided by Golden Heart Senior Care. We have offices nationwide. For more information, call us today at (800) 601-2792.