Dementia and Alzheimer’s patients are not always fully aware of their daily actions and behaviour, especially in the later stages of these diseases. As such, keeping a watchful eye on collecting clutter and understanding the difference between hoarding behaviours is important.
In this blog we help you understand hoarding and dementia and how to manage this behaviour.
What is hoarding?
Hoarding is defined as behaviour where people excessively store and hold onto items which others may deem as worthless or not useful. People with hoarding tendencies struggle to part with what many may consider ordinary or completely insignificant items. This can lead to their living spaces becoming completely overrun by clutter and litter.
It is believed that hoarding behaviour can stem from childhood or adolescence. It’s an early coping mechanism to deal with loss of control in certain aspects of life or trauma. Hoarding behaviour then becomes progressively worse over the years that follow.
Hoarding and dementia
This disorder becomes even more challenging and complicated in those with dementia or Alzheimer’s. Symptoms of dementia such as memory loss, confusion, agitation and disorientation only exacerbate hoarding behaviours.
Hoarding habits are likely to begin in the early to middle stages of dementia or Alzheimer’s. The behaviour is closely attributed to a loss of control. Developing hoarding behaviour is said to be an attempt at re-establishing control and security in the life of those with dementia or Alzheimer’s.
In the later stages of dementia, people may hoard or hide items from people they do not recognise (such as loved ones and friends), or are driven to search relentlessly for items they believe are misplaced or even stolen.
Managing hoarding behaviour
As a care giver it is important to stay alert to the reality of hoarding behaviours, but also remain empathetic. It is your job to help mitigate instances where hoarding could become out of control. Monitor spending, remove temptations such as home shopping channels or online shopping sites and identify and eliminate any potential hiding places.