For years you may have tried to help your parent acknowledge the difference between collecting and hoarding. However, over time your mother or father found the need to hold on to items from their past that remind them of bygone days. Within days, weeks, months and now years the collecting may have taken over their home and life. This “collection” may be out of your control and may even cause seniors to feel as though they are living in a fantasy world. Your loved one’s senior caregiver is trained to recognize the behaviors of hoarding and the psychological needs of individuals like your mom or dad who are taking part in this dangerous and unhealthy activity.
Too often when family members attempt to discuss what appears to be bizarre behavior with senior loved ones, seniors are put on the defensive and do not want to discuss the situation. They may isolate themselves. However, the senior caregiver understands that hoarding is a real illness and one that must be addressed in a sensitive manner. Despite the actions of your parent, they may not want to engage in this behavior, but their brain is conditioned to act in this manner; they could have a condition identified as Diogenes syndrome.
Diogenes syndrome affects seniors and those who have suffered extreme levels of stress. Affected individuals may collect garbage, neglect their own care, and refuse assistance with their needs. Seniors are often in full denial as the condition progresses, and this is no fault of their own. There is no cure and no blame. Much like dementia, it is up to the family members and senior caregiver to support the awkwardness of this syndrome as the individual would not want to end his or her life in this manner.