recognizing hoarding in the elderly

Is Your Senior Loved One Hoarding? Understanding Diogenes Syndrome

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Diogenes Syndrome Symptoms, Treatment and Causes

If you’ve visited your senior loved one recently, and noticed an overabundance of items around the house, it may be wise not to avoid the subject, or to pretend like everything is A-OK. Excessive stockpiling of seemingly trivial items, often including things as varied as trash or live animals, can be the sign of something in need of attention.

Is your senior loved one hoarding? Do they seem to be collecting an inordinate amount of what most people would consider trash? If so, then they may be suffering from an extremely serious disorder in seniors known as Diogenes Syndrome.

Read on to learn how to recognize Diogenes Syndrome, or hoarding, in your elderly loved one and what to do about it.

What Is Diogenes Syndrome?

Diogenes Syndrome is a disorder characterized by serious self-neglect and hoarding behavior. It is named for the Greek Philosopher Diogenes and is often commonly referred to as senile squalor syndrome. The syndrome is a reaction to stress, and may also be a result of damage to the pre-frontal cortex of the brain.

People with Diogenes Syndrome tend to experience social alienation along with domestic squalor. They may also develop a skin condition due to lack of proper hygiene. Since they tend to avoid others and not seek help, the condition can often go undiagnosed until the poor conditions the individual keeps him or herself in lead to a serious health problem.

How Do I Know If My Loved One Has Diogenes Syndrome?

Hoarding is a definite sign of Diogenes Syndrome, but it is important to distinguish between a senior who has a sentimental attachment to collectibles and is disorganized or messy, and one who is suffering from a serious psychiatric disorder.

The conditions that you will find a senior with Diogenes Syndrome living in are unlivable. They may be living more like a homeless person than the relative you normally recognize. In addition, the sufferer is unlikely to ask for help.

In fact, they are more likely to try to get rid of you than to reach out for assistance, and the more you try to help them, the more agitated they are likely to get.

How Can You Treat Someone With Diogenes Syndrome?

There is no specific surefire treatment for Diogenes Syndrome. However, if you know someone who has it, you should get them into an adult care facility as soon as possible. This is almost always the best thing for someone suffering from senile squalor syndrome.

No matter how much they protest, it is a very bad idea to leave someone suffering with this disorder to their own devices. If you do, the unsanitary conditions they are living in will persist and will likely have a very negative effect on their health.

They may not seek treatment and could become gravely ill or even die. The right adult care facility can make sure that they start to live (and then continue to live) in sanitary conditions, and that their needs are taken care of.

It’s important that the facility that cares for your loved one with this disorder understands this condition and how to care for people who have it. These individuals should be given some measure of isolation and have only one caregiver whom they trust working with them.

They should also be allowed to keep desired possessions within reason, and to make sure that no one but the individual touches those possessions. With the right approach and care, seniors with this malady can live relatively satisfying lives.

Finding a Home for Your Senior Loved One With Diogenes Syndrome

If you’re concerned about how to find a home for a loved one with Diogenes Syndrome, Golden Placements can help. Golden Placements specializes in matching up seniors with the best possible assisted living, adult care or retirement facility – one that will give them the maximum level of autonomy and stimulation while still making sure they get the level of care they need.

If you’re ready to start the search for the ideal senior community for your elderly loved one in the Portland Metro or Northern California area, please contact Golden Placements today and we’ll go right to work to give you and your loved one the peace of mind that you need.


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