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Senior Hoarding: How to Spot the Signs & Act!

Vickie Dellaquila - August 10, 2015 11:59 AM

Summer is full swing-picnics, vacations, and visits to family. Many adult children who are geographically distant from their parents or aunt or uncle may want to visit them this summer. The parents or senior loved ones appear to be fine and state everything is going great in their life. However, you have asked “Can I go over to your home for visit?” Your mom always suggest it would be better to meet at a restaurant or park. You may not have visited their home for many years. You finally go over to their home when they are not expecting you and you discover they have been hoarding in their home.

Many times this is a common story for many children who have tried to visit their parents’ home, but always end up meeting them somewhere else. I have had calls like this in the past from very distraught adult children and discover their senior loved ones are hoarding.

What can they do?

If you suspect that something may be going on at your parents or loved ones home such as hoarding or chronic disorganization, look for some clues. Possible signs of hoarding may be:

•    There is an accumulation of garbage or items or broken items on the front porch, by the door, or in the yard.

•    The shades or blinds are pulled down all the time.

•    You can see cardboard or boxes, or sheets in the windows.

•    The yard is not being taken care of, overgrown bushes; the yard is not being mowed.

•    Home maintenance may be at a standstill. The home may need painted, shutters broken, or screens torn.

•    They have told you that they have many collections and continue to acquire more to add to the collection.

•    They shop online and many boxes appear at their home from UPS, mail, or Fed Ex.

•    The mail is not being taken in from the mailbox.

•    Every time you try to go your loved one’s home they suggest meeting at a different location such as a restaurant.

What can you do to help with the situation?

•    Talk to them about their situation and let them know that it is ok.

•    Let them know that you can help them or you can enlist professionals to help them.

•    Help them understand that you will maintain their privacy about the situation

If you have recently discovered that your parents or senior loved one are hoarding or not taking care of their home due to accumulated clutter, let them know that you are there to help. You will not judge them and are concerned for their health and safety. Hopefully, they will let you bring in some help. The help could come from family, friends or a professional.

Vickie Dellaquila is western Pennsylvania’s only Certified Professional Organizer in Chronic Disorganization and owner of Organization Rules® Inc. Organization Rules provides compassionate organizing services for every stage of your life®. She is the author of Don’t Toss My Memories in the Trash: A Step-by-Step Guide to Helping Seniors Downsize, Organize, and Move. Please visit

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