Your senior might be collecting a few more items than you realized. That could mean that she’s in danger of becoming a hoarder. When you understand some of the risk factors that point to the likelihood that your elderly family member could become a hoarder, you can do more to help her to work through what’s causing the issue for her.
Poor Mental Health and Coping Skills
Life is difficult, and for someone with poor coping skills and challenges with mental health, life is even more difficult. When life throws someone a curveball, sometimes coping mechanisms don’t seem to make sense to other people. In your senior’s case, poor coping skills might mean that she starts holding onto items that she ordinarily wouldn’t in order to help herself to deal with a loss. That doesn’t make logical sense, but she’s attempting to cope with the tools she does have.
Being Isolated and Alone
Isolation and feeling alone take a huge toll on your senior. It’s dangerous for her mental and her physical health. Your senior may feel so alone that she draws in on herself, both emotionally and physically. That most often manifests in gathering belongings around her, which is one of the chief hallmarks of hoarding.
Having Hoarders in the Family
A family history of hoarding can also mean that the mental health issues of other family members have gotten passed down. It can also indicate that there’s a family history of unhelpful coping mechanisms. Doctors don’t know if there’s a gene associated with hoarding, but it could be possible, too. Many of those other factors may carry more weight.
Simply Being Older
There’s also the possibility that your senior’s age is a major contributing factor to her status as a hoarder. If certain tasks are more difficult for her to manage on her own, she’s more likely to not do those tasks rather than ask you or someone else to handle them for her. She may also be experiencing cognitive changes that affect her decision-making abilities, which could mean that she opts to make some choices that you find odd.
Getting help for your senior may need to start with her doctor or with a therapist who understands hoarding and how that affects older adults. In terms of practical assistance, your senior may benefit from having home care providers helping her to keep up with things like decluttering and household tasks.