If you have senior parents, you are probably knowledgeable about an array of diseases and disorders that affect the elderly. Alzheimer’s, dementia, arthritis, diabetes … these are all common conditions many seniors develop. There is another disorder you may not have heard of that is also quite common in seniors: Diogenes Syndrome.
Diogenes Syndrome is also known as Senior Squalor Syndrome. Most people refer to it simply as hoarding. Hoarding disorder in seniors is characterized primarily by an excessive accumulation of “stuff” that isn’t necessary or valuable. Other characteristics of senior hoarding include a home that is in squalor (not just untidy, but unsanitary and dangerous), an apathetic attitude about their poor living conditions, shamelessness, neglect for their own personal hygiene and social isolation.
Seniors who allow their living conditions to deteriorate to an extent that is filthy and dangerous need immediate intervention. Living in chaos is dangerous; seniors can trip and fall and emergency responders can have trouble reaching them if they need help. Removing a hoarder from a dangerous environment and giving him or her a fresh start in an assisted living center in OKC can signal the beginning of a new life. There, they will be nurtured, cared for and gently prevented from exercising their hoarding tendencies.
Getting your loved one to agree the best scenario for a healthy future is moving to senior citizen assisted living in OKC is the first step. Making the transition will take time and an abundance of patience. A hoarder does not accumulate his or her belongings in a few days. Don’t expect to clean them up in a few days, either. Your loved one has likely become attached to many of the items he or she has accumulated. If you are certain you want to help and do what’s best for your loved one, take a deep breath and prepare for a battle. Here are some tips to help the process go as smoothly as possible.
Secure a cleaning crew to assist you in your efforts. You can hire a company to help or recruit an army of friends and relatives to volunteer. You will need strong bodies with even temperaments to get the job done.
Make a date. It’s easy to procrastinate when you’re facing a task that will be unpleasant. Identifying a day, ideally a Saturday morning, to begin the process will set the wheels in motion.
Break the process into manageable tasks. Looking at a hoarder’s home as a whole is overwhelming. Instead, focus on one quadrant of one room and begin there. Create four piles and assign each item to one of those piles: Donations, keepsakes, valuables to sell and trash. The process is more likely to take weeks and months than it is to take days. Dig in, get it done and remember you’re doing it to help your loved one.
Our Village at Oakwood team has experience helping former hoarders settle in to assisted living. We understand the challenges and are well equipped to overcome them. If you’d like to discuss a transition plan for your loved one, contact us.