Hoarding – Why We Do It and the Services Available to Help

Hoarding disorder is a recognized mental health diagnosis in which a person has persistent difficulties parting with things. Hoarding often involves saving items like newspapers and magazines, clothing, and household items. Some people with hoarding disorder collect an extreme amount of animals.

Although hoarding usually begins in early adulthood, the condition becomes more severe with age, especially as they face age-related medical and social challenges.

There are no statistics available on the prevalence of hoarding in Canada, but based on data from the United States, hoarding affects 2 to 6 percent of the population.

Why we do it

Experts still don’t fully understand what causes hoarding disorder. Brain injuries and traumatic life events are believed to increase the risk of the disorder.

Some research has found that hoarding in the elderly generally starts before the age of 40, worsens after middle age, and is linked to social isolation.

Geriatric cases of hoarding are often associated with depression. Seniors with hoarding disorder often also tend to have other mental health conditions, such as anxiety or PTSD, or medical conditions, such as arthritis.

Research shows that hoarding that begins late in life is often associated with memory, attention, and executive function deficits.

Signs and Symptoms of Hoarding Disorder

It’s not always easy to spot the signs of hoarding because it’s often a private behavior. A buildup of clutter is usually the first sign, along with a person getting and saving items they don’t have the need or space for.

The clutter can become significant, often taking over spaces until they’re unusable and unsanitary and even hazardous.

The Importance of Getting Help and Who to Turn To

Hoarding disorder in older adults increases the risk for injuries, falls, and fires. The condition also often leads to social isolation and loneliness—something elderly adults are already at risk of.

Eviction and legal issues are also a concern when a dwelling begins to impact neighbours, such as if offensive odours or clutter makes its way into common spaces or neighbouring units or if there’s a fire.

While hoarding and the accompanying clutter can seem overwhelming and impossible to deal with, there are services available that can help.

If you’re worried that you or a loved one may have a problem with hoarding, it’s important to reach out for help. There are services that can help you maintain your home to improve your quality of life and health and safety.

CAMH recommends contacting a health professional to address any underlying mental illnesses, as well as services to help declutter and clean the home. Hoarding disorder and related mental health issues can be treated using therapy, such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), skills training, and medications.

Here are some resources that can help:

  • Primary healthcare provider – Reach out to your or your loved one’s healthcare provider for a referral to a mental health professional with experience treating hoarding disorder.
  • Your local hospital – Many Canadian hospitals and anxiety clinics offer therapy groups for hoarders over 60. For instance, Toronto’s Sunnybrook Health Center’s Thompson Anxiety Disorders Clinic and St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton Anxiety Treatment & Research Clinic both run a 16-week CBT hoarding group.
  • Support groups – You may find it helpful to a hoarders support group and connect with others who know firsthand what you are going through. These groups can also be a great way to find other helpful resources. There are also support groups for family members of hoarders, as the disorder affects everyone.
  • Hoarding cleaning companies – There are cleaning companies that provide extreme cleaning services for hoarding. Some also deal with extermination and related issues.
  • An In-home care agency – In-home care services aren’t just limited to health care. Our caregivers can also help with housekeeping, running errands, and accompanying care recipients to therapy or support group meetings. They provide companionship, which can help stave off isolation, loneliness, and depression. Having a caregiver also means an extra set of eyes to help spot the signs of an issue, like excess clutter or shopping, and ongoing help maintaining a clean, clutter-free home.

 

 

Article Resources
Characteristics of hoarding in older adults. Diefenbach GJ, DiMauro J, Frost R, Steketee G, Tolin DF. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3530651/
Hoarding – Where to go when you’re looking for help. CAMH. https://www.camh.ca//-/media/files/community-resource-sheets/hoarding-resources-pdf.pdf
Hoarding in the elderly: A critical review of the recent literature. Roan D, Landers A, Sherratt J, Wilson GS. (2017). https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/international-psychogeriatrics/article/abs/hoarding-in-the-elderly-a-critical-review-of-the-recent-literature/0562B3D59971F23439270219F0D14F36

5 Most Nutritious Foods for Elderly Adults

You are what you eat, they say and healthy foods really can help you be healthy.

Incorporating nutritious foods in our diets is important at any age, but for elderly adults it’s even more so. Older adults who eat a poor diet are vulnerable to infections and chronic illness. A poor diet can also weaken muscles and bones, having a negative impact on an elderly person’s quality of life and independence.

On the flipside, healthy foods can boost the immune system and lower the risk of illness, increase energy levels, and help elderly adults stay healthy and independent longer.

Contrary to popular belief, eating healthy doesn’t have to be expensive or boring. Incorporating nutrient-rich foods into the diet provides the vitamins, minerals, and proteins needed for optimum health. Nutritious foods can also help the pocket book because they keep you full longer than highly processed foods and those full of empty calories.

Here are the 5 most nutritious foods for elderly adults.

Low-fat dairy

Low-fat dairy products are an excellent source of calcium, vitamin D, protein, and other vitamins and nutrients. Research shows that increasing the intake of nutrient-rich dairy products improves bone and muscle health in older adults. It’s also been linked to lower blood pressure and reduced risk of metabolic syndrome.

There are plenty of low-fat dairy products to choose from, such as milk, yogurt, and cheese.

Here are just some healthy-and tasty—ways to enjoy low-fat dairy:

  • Top yogurt with fruit, nuts, or granola—or all three!
  • Add fruit to cottage cheese.
  • Pair your favourite cheese with apple or pear slices, or with fig preserves.
  • Spread light cream cheese on a bagel and add a bit of your favorite jam for a sweet treat!
  • Shred low-fat cheese on scrambled eggs or an omelette for a protein-packed meal.

Fatty fish

Fatty fish, such as salmon, cod, and mackerel are rich in protein and omega-3 fatty acids, which play an essential role in brain and heart health.

While fresh fish is nice when you can get it, it’s not essential for getting the benefits. Canned and frozen options are easily accessible, don’t require extra prep, and are budget-friendly.

Here are some nutrient-rich fatty fish options to consider:

  • Canned sardines
  • Frozen wild salmon, cod, or pollock.
  • Tuna—canned or fresh—is great in sandwiches or salads.

Whole grains

Whole grains are fibre-packed and filling, and have been linked to successful aging. Successful aging, you ask? That’s defined as the absence of disability, cognitive issues, depression, and chronic disease. Whole grains have also been shown to improve heart health and metabolism, lower LDL cholesterol, and keep you regular.

The options are endless when it comes to whole grains with options that are great for any meal or snack, whether you or your ageing parent prefers savory or sweet.

Here are some ways to incorporate whole grains into your elderly loved one’s diet:

  • Whole grain crackers, which are great on their own or with cheese, jam, or hummus.
  • Oatmeal or oat cereal, which lowers cholesterol and improves heart health.
  • Swap white pasta and rice for whole grain pasta and brown rice.
  • Granola bars and oat bars, which are healthy and filling snacks.

Nuts

Not just a delicious snack—nuts have numerous health benefits for the ageing population! Nuts are packed with proteins, fibre, vitamins, fatty acids, and have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that have protective effects for the heart and brain. They lower the risk of disease, help with cognitive disorders and frailty.

All nuts have health benefits so which ones you incorporate into your or your loved one’s diet comes down to preference. People with missing teeth and dentures may find nuts too hard to eat—literally. If this is the case, opt for nut butters instead, like peanut butter, almond butter, or cashew butter which is delicious on bread, in baked goods, or on apples or celery. Nut milks are also a good addition to any diet.

Lean protein

We can’t stress enough the importance of protein for elderly health. It helps with muscle and bone strength, energy levels, and more.

Lean protein isn’t just limited to lean cuts of meat; there are plenty of non-meat sources of protein, too, including:

  • Beans (chickpeas, navy beans, fava beans, kidney beans…)
  • Lentils
  • Eggs
  • Seafood
  • Tofu
  • Green peas
  • Quinoa

Healthy eating can be easy and fun. Experiment with different foods and recipes. The internet is full of delicious healthy recipes to try! For those who can’t get out to shop on their own, you can have your caregiver accompany you to the store or have them do your shopping and even your cooking for you.

Make a fun day out of food shopping by having your caregiver accompany you to farmer’s markets for fresh produce and eggs or to your favorite bakery for fresh whole grain breads and treats!

 

 

 

 

Article Resources
Advantage of Dairy for Improving Aging Muscle. Du Y, Oh C, No J. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6774446/
Rusu ME, Mocan A, Ferreira ICFR, Popa DS. Health Benefits of Nut Consumption in Middle-Aged and Elderly Population. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6719153/
Healthy Eating for Seniors. Government of Canada. https://food-guide.canada.ca/en/tips-for-healthy-eating/seniors/
Whole Grain Tips for Seniors. https://wholegrainscouncil.org/sites/default/files/atoms/files/whole-grains-tips-for-seniors.pdf