Saturday, April 5, 2014

Older Adult Hoarders: Health and Help (Research, Video 3:11)

Do you know any older adult hoarders? You might and not even know it. People with this disorder are far more common than you think. You can usually discern that their need to accumulate goes far beyond just having a messy place. While many hoarders are embarrassed about their extreme living conditions, some are not. I discovered this when a friend I didn’t know was a hoarder actually invited me inside her one bedroom apartment. She displayed no embarrassment about the accumulated chaos.

The entry hall was so packed with stacks of “stuff” that only a narrow passageway remained. This path bordered by mounds of boxes, old clothes (some from childhood), and boxes of TV purchases and other clutter was overwhelming.  When two cats came running up to greet us, I was in shock. Unsanitary and dangerous living conditions such as these, particularly for older adults, puts them at increased risk for fire, falling, disability, and other health risks.

According to the Mayo Clinic News Network, hoarding tends to run in families and may increase in old age after profound incidents such as a death. About 75 percent of the time, hoarding occurs in conjunction with other mental health issues such as depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, alcohol dependence, dementia or anxiety. Hoarders in denial may need a team of professionals and loved ones to provide an intervention before they can accept the reality of their condition. Time consuming treatment involves therapy leading to cleaning up the premises and gaining better control in maintenance. is a database of qualified hoarding specialists including cleaning companies, therapists, and psychiatrists across the United States (and a few other countries) that are all familiar with the hoarding disorder. You can click on your state for hoarding resources.

This video shares insight regarding an older adult hoarder:

Frances Shani Parker, Author
Becoming Dead Right: A Hospice Volunteer in Urban Nursing Homes is available in paperback and e-book editions in America and other countries at online and offline booksellers.


  1. I have lived with a garage hoarder for 30 years. He collects various items such as old pieces of wood, screws, nails and all items used for building things. He has a collection of old Malibu lights which no longer work. The lights have been replaced but the hoarder is still holding on to the old lights. He stores his old nails and screws in coffee cans in the garage. There is also a collection of old computer parts, books which he saves " just in case" he may need them. When items disappear and are put in the trash can or donated to Habitat for Humanity, he does not ask about the items. However, there are times when he will search through the trash can to see what I threw away and he will removed the items in case he may need them. Looking at the situation on the positive side, the hoarding problem only takes place in the garage. My dream is to have a well organized garage with NO CLUTTER!!!!

    1. Thank you for sharing this information about your personal experiences dealing with a hoarder. Your situation is common to many. You are probably the reason hoarding has not taken over your house. He still may be able to change with help. You might want to read this article about how to help the hoarder in your life:

      Wishing you the best,

  2. Great article! Many have came across this situation and this article sheds light on how to deal with the hoarder, for their safety and relief.

    It is not a pleasant situation when hoarders make life miserable for others!

    According to the American Geriatrics Society, living alone for long periods of time with a lack of cognitive stimulation, a genetic predisposition to the condition and a traumatic event can all be a catalyst for the syndrome. That is why senior living, can sometimes trump living alone to keep seniors mentally engaged.

    Thanks for sharing!