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Hoarding Behaviours

Mrs Bumble

Registered User
Jul 19, 2016
8
0
Hello

Does anyone have experience of hoarding behaviours? I am a carer for my mam who has Alzheimers. Since my dad died over 3 years ago she had gradually started to hoard things especially clothes, handbags, plastic bags, food, packaging, rubber bands, birds feathers (yes I know!!!) and photos - not to mention silk flowers and bedding and oh yes flasks.

Her house is slowly filling up. I have on a number of occasion had a "sort out" sometimes with her and sometimes when she is out but it is getting harder to keep on top of. I work full time.

She lives independently and we have no professional support but I have just contacted the Alzheimer's Society to try and get her involved in some classes as she spend all of her time spending a lot of money in the shops and buying things she already has. Oh yes - anti-wrinkle cream is another thing she likes to collect.

Should I seek professional advice or any advice anyone can give me? :)
 

Kjn

Registered User
Jul 27, 2013
5,833
0
Welcome to TP , My dad went through a stage of hoarding, wouldn't get rid of a single thing, even waited for postman and hoarded mail(bills to be paid). It does seem to be a phase.
Keep talking here would be my advice , so much help and knowledge X
 

arielsmelody

Registered User
Jul 16, 2015
515
0
Do you think your mum has genuine hording issues, or do you think it is a combination of boredom and memory problems? My (just personal and non-professional) definition of hording is when clearing out causes genuine distress - beyond what would be a 'normal' reaction. If your mum is buying but is OK with tidying up and getting rid of stuff with help, then it's not hording as such. Hording seems to be a mental health problem that is really difficult to find help with.

If it's a way of passing the time, I agree that the best approach is to try to keep her busy so that she has less time to spend in the shops, and try to find a way of managing her money so that she has less cash available - maybe look into some kind of pre-paid credit card so that it puts a limit on what she can spend.
 

Sue J

Registered User
Dec 9, 2009
8,032
0
Since my symptoms began 7 years ago, I began some of these behaviours:confused: which to me was/is something totally new and a change in my personality but something I have struggled to manage and understand. For me, one of the main reasons is that I 'lose' huge chunks of time when I have bad 'brain bouts' which seem to wipe my memory of recent things so I forget what I have bought, and so think I need it - this is true of clothes, food and other items and drives me potty apart from being expensive and having gone from working with a reasonable income to living on benefits, which contrary to what some might believe are not that easy to be granted either - I'm not complaining, as I am thankful for what I get but it makes things very difficult.

I also seem to need to hold onto containers and anything that might be useful:eek::rolleyes:, and when I get my old self back occasionally, I have to take the bull by the horns and clear things out - these glimpses are rare, I might add, I also tell my HH when I am in that mood get rid of anything I let her quick before it changes again:D What I have tried and is helping, a bit, is to keep a big bag of containers etc. which is more than enough for what I might need, I do use them, so anything extra should go in the bin and give her permission to throw them out. Sometimes, I will can get distressed and know then isn't the time and am not always sure what causes the distress simply that I am and so not a good idea to do it.

Why do I do these things as opposed to some other meaningful activity that I once did? Because my brain, much of the time is unable to focus on anything for any length of time. I try to give myself activites/things to do that I can flit between when I am in such a phase e.g. jigsaw puzzles, interesting books of images things that interest me and am trying to get creative with rubbish!!!

I have had to alter my home to adapt and make life easier. I have bought an open clothes rail so that my wardrobe is always visible, I am not always able to 'see' it but at least when I can/do it reinforces to my brain what clothes I have. It also helps, a bit, to write lists of what I have put in the fridge & freezer as when I can't 'think' I can look at the list which sometimes, but not always helps.

I realise that I have insight and understand my condition and am relatively young which is not the case for older people who have probably lived with the condition for a lot longer - I don't relish the thought of it getting worse:( and by fighting it and making changes to how I live makes me feel I still have some control rather than this disease or other people which for me is vital. I am too, aware of those who see my vulnerability at times and would exploit it, all I can say is if I meet them on a bad day they get very short shrift and I can get very vocal:eek::D

I hope it helps.

Best wishes
Sue:)
 

Pear trees

Registered User
Jan 25, 2015
441
0
My mum used to hide and hoard food all over the house in the early/mid stages of dementia. We used to find micro meals and fruit pies in cupboards, bed drawers and even the washing machine. Mum was convinced we were leaving her to starve so was hoarding food. She forgot where she hid it but went mad when we found it rotting and threw it away. She now has frozen meals delivered and ignores the freezer as it is new.
She was also convinced she had no money so went to the bank 2/3 times a week to draw out £300, and hid money all round the house (we found over £3000) until I got finannical POA and gave her bank instructions to only give her £50 a week. She was furious for a while but soon forgot and accepted I would ensure she had money weekly.
 

Amy in the US

Registered User
Feb 28, 2015
4,617
0
USA
Mrs Bumble, welcome to TP. I am sorry you have had to find us, but hope you will get some help and support and advice here.

To put it briefly, yes, I have had experience of the hoarding behaviour with my mother (early 70s, Alzheimer's, no short term memory). She now lives in a care home but when she was still at home, she would go to the shops every day (because she couldn't remember if she needed to or not, and especially if she needed a prescription from the chemist). She would buy all sorts of things, including, but not limited to:

-Kleenex
-hair care products, especially styling foam/mousse
-hairdryers
-hairbrushes and combs (I see a theme here)
-nail clippers
-food and snacks (that would then go bad)
-ice cream (which she would eat)
-clothes and shoes
-books

Her home looked like something on one of those horrid television shows. Every drawer was crammed full of the most unimaginable jumble of stuff (like a "junk drawer" but full of all sorts of things. I threw away mountains of rubber bands and piles of pens and all sorts of other things I've blocked out of my memory. In addition, the home was filthy dirty.

As to what you can practically do, well, it's challenging. I do think that getting her to day care, or carers cafes, or any sort of activity, is a good idea, as this provides routine and stimulation. I would also look at getting assessments (if you haven't had those yet; I'll let a UK person explain them) so that you can begin a care package when you need it.

If you can get her out to day care or something similar, then you can either hire someone and/or clean the place yourself, when she is out. I would not try doing too much in front of her, unless she asks for help. Or you can try to let it go. Or you can bring in cleaners, even over her objections. Sometimes the way to get a carer into the home is disguised as a cleaner (I know you don't need help, Mum, but Cleaner Amy is a friend of a friend and she really needs the extra money so I knew you'd be willing to help her out by letting her "work" here a few hours a week. She can just have a cup of tea and chat with you or maybe do some chore you'd rather not, like clean the grout. It's great of you to help her out.)

Others here have similar experiences, I'm sure, and please do feel free to ask questions. You might also find some information browsing old threads. And the UK Alzheimer's Society has a lot of good info on their website.

Best wishes and hope you find something that works.

Even living in the care home, my mother manages to hoard some items and every so often, when she is not there, my husband and I will clean things out. As long as she doesn't see anyone doing it, she doesn't seem to miss things or get upset. She seems to need to have a certain amount of "stuff" and "clutter" to feel comfortable, so we try not to upset the balance.

Sue, your comment about the open clothes rail is most interesting and helpful. I discovered that my mother gets distressed if her closet door is closed, so we just leave it open. I think there is something about the processing of being able to "see" what is there. We put as many of her things out in the open as possible as that seems to work best, so more open shelving, and fewer drawers.
 

Mrs Bumble

Registered User
Jul 19, 2016
8
0
Welcome to TP , My dad went through a stage of hoarding, wouldn't get rid of a single thing, even waited for postman and hoarded mail(bills to be paid). It does seem to be a phase.
Keep talking here would be my advice , so much help and knowledge X

Thank you so much. It is the first time I have gone on a help forum and it felt much better getting it down. Also good to know there are others experiencing the same thing and I am not alone.
 

Mrs Bumble

Registered User
Jul 19, 2016
8
0
Mrs Bumble,
My first thought is, do you have Financial Power of Attorney? If you do, it may be possible for you to control the amount your Mum can spend in some way. If not, it may be a good idea to get this put in place as soon as possible as your Mum obviously does not understand the implications of what she is doing. I had the same thing with my own Mum a couple of years ago and in the end she became a target via mail for all sorts of scammers who realised that she was a soft touch financially and she spent a lot of money she needed to actually live on, purchasing items she didn't want or need. As my Mum had nothing apart from her pension, this could have been very scary had I not realised what was happening and stepped in. Perhaps someone could get your Mum out of the house for a day and if her memory is poor, you could clear her house out and she may not even notice when she returns that you have had a good sort out.

I do have power of attorney and luckily I have a separate account that pays the bills. However, I have just got a Permanent agent card for for Post Office Account which is the one she is using and then the next step is to look at getting her to agree for me to also have her card and get withdrawals out together.

Thank you so much for your advice. At least I know I am heading in the right direction.
 

Mrs Bumble

Registered User
Jul 19, 2016
8
0
Do you think your mum has genuine hording issues, or do you think it is a combination of boredom and memory problems? My (just personal and non-professional) definition of hording is when clearing out causes genuine distress - beyond what would be a 'normal' reaction. If your mum is buying but is OK with tidying up and getting rid of stuff with help, then it's not hording as such. Hording seems to be a mental health problem that is really difficult to find help with.

If it's a way of passing the time, I agree that the best approach is to try to keep her busy so that she has less time to spend in the shops, and try to find a way of managing her money so that she has less cash available - maybe look into some kind of pre-paid credit card so that it puts a limit on what she can spend.

That is so helpful. Yes I think it is boredom and I have had Age UK visit and we are trying to get her signed up for i pad course. I have also inquired about the dementia cafes but she has to have a carer with her and I work full time. Do you know whether you can "hire" carers?
 

Mrs Bumble

Registered User
Jul 19, 2016
8
0
Since my symptoms began 7 years ago, I began some of these behaviours:confused: which to me was/is something totally new and a change in my personality but something I have struggled to manage and understand. For me, one of the main reasons is that I 'lose' huge chunks of time when I have bad 'brain bouts' which seem to wipe my memory of recent things so I forget what I have bought, and so think I need it - this is true of clothes, food and other items and drives me potty apart from being expensive and having gone from working with a reasonable income to living on benefits, which contrary to what some might believe are not that easy to be granted either - I'm not complaining, as I am thankful for what I get but it makes things very difficult.

I also seem to need to hold onto containers and anything that might be useful:eek::rolleyes:, and when I get my old self back occasionally, I have to take the bull by the horns and clear things out - these glimpses are rare, I might add, I also tell my HH when I am in that mood get rid of anything I let her quick before it changes again:D What I have tried and is helping, a bit, is to keep a big bag of containers etc. which is more than enough for what I might need, I do use them, so anything extra should go in the bin and give her permission to throw them out. Sometimes, I will can get distressed and know then isn't the time and am not always sure what causes the distress simply that I am and so not a good idea to do it.

Why do I do these things as opposed to some other meaningful activity that I once did? Because my brain, much of the time is unable to focus on anything for any length of time. I try to give myself activites/things to do that I can flit between when I am in such a phase e.g. jigsaw puzzles, interesting books of images things that interest me and am trying to get creative with rubbish!!!

I have had to alter my home to adapt and make life easier. I have bought an open clothes rail so that my wardrobe is always visible, I am not always able to 'see' it but at least when I can/do it reinforces to my brain what clothes I have. It also helps, a bit, to write lists of what I have put in the fridge & freezer as when I can't 'think' I can look at the list which sometimes, but not always helps.

I realise that I have insight and understand my condition and am relatively young which is not the case for older people who have probably lived with the condition for a lot longer - I don't relish the thought of it getting worse:( and by fighting it and making changes to how I live makes me feel I still have some control rather than this disease or other people which for me is vital. I am too, aware of those who see my vulnerability at times and would exploit it, all I can say is if I meet them on a bad day they get very short shrift and I can get very vocal:eek::D

I hope it helps.

Best wishes
Sue:)

Hello Sue, it really does help having a first hand insight. I do believe my mam has many similar traits. She tells me that she forgets what she already has and also has lists of what to buy and what not to buy and then she completely forgets. She also keeps all containers an wrappings. I will try and the bag idea for the containers and also I like the idea of an open clothes rail. Thanks so much for being so open and helpful. I really wish you all the best. It sounds like you are coping amazingly well.
 

Mrs Bumble

Registered User
Jul 19, 2016
8
0
My mum used to hide and hoard food all over the house in the early/mid stages of dementia. We used to find micro meals and fruit pies in cupboards, bed drawers and even the washing machine. Mum was convinced we were leaving her to starve so was hoarding food. She forgot where she hid it but went mad when we found it rotting and threw it away. She now has frozen meals delivered and ignores the freezer as it is new.
She was also convinced she had no money so went to the bank 2/3 times a week to draw out £300, and hid money all round the house (we found over £3000) until I got finannical POA and gave her bank instructions to only give her £50 a week. She was furious for a while but soon forgot and accepted I would ensure she had money weekly.

My mam has a Post Office card account that is unable to limit the money but I think I will look at transferring it to a bank account to limit withdrawal or get her to agree to give me the card and I will withdraw for her every week a limited amount. Thank you so much for the advice.
 

Mrs Bumble

Registered User
Jul 19, 2016
8
0
Mrs Bumble, welcome to TP. I am sorry you have had to find us, but hope you will get some help and support and advice here.

To put it briefly, yes, I have had experience of the hoarding behaviour with my mother (early 70s, Alzheimer's, no short term memory). She now lives in a care home but when she was still at home, she would go to the shops every day (because she couldn't remember if she needed to or not, and especially if she needed a prescription from the chemist). She would buy all sorts of things, including, but not limited to:

-Kleenex
-hair care products, especially styling foam/mousse
-hairdryers
-hairbrushes and combs (I see a theme here)
-nail clippers
-food and snacks (that would then go bad)
-ice cream (which she would eat)
-clothes and shoes
-books

Her home looked like something on one of those horrid television shows. Every drawer was crammed full of the most unimaginable jumble of stuff (like a "junk drawer" but full of all sorts of things. I threw away mountains of rubber bands and piles of pens and all sorts of other things I've blocked out of my memory. In addition, the home was filthy dirty.

As to what you can practically do, well, it's challenging. I do think that getting her to day care, or carers cafes, or any sort of activity, is a good idea, as this provides routine and stimulation. I would also look at getting assessments (if you haven't had those yet; I'll let a UK person explain them) so that you can begin a care package when you need it.

If you can get her out to day care or something similar, then you can either hire someone and/or clean the place yourself, when she is out. I would not try doing too much in front of her, unless she asks for help. Or you can try to let it go. Or you can bring in cleaners, even over her objections. Sometimes the way to get a carer into the home is disguised as a cleaner (I know you don't need help, Mum, but Cleaner Amy is a friend of a friend and she really needs the extra money so I knew you'd be willing to help her out by letting her "work" here a few hours a week. She can just have a cup of tea and chat with you or maybe do some chore you'd rather not, like clean the grout. It's great of you to help her out.)

Others here have similar experiences, I'm sure, and please do feel free to ask questions. You might also find some information browsing old threads. And the UK Alzheimer's Society has a lot of good info on their website.

Best wishes and hope you find something that works.

Even living in the care home, my mother manages to hoard some items and every so often, when she is not there, my husband and I will clean things out. As long as she doesn't see anyone doing it, she doesn't seem to miss things or get upset. She seems to need to have a certain amount of "stuff" and "clutter" to feel comfortable, so we try not to upset the balance.

Sue, your comment about the open clothes rail is most interesting and helpful. I discovered that my mother gets distressed if her closet door is closed, so we just leave it open. I think there is something about the processing of being able to "see" what is there. We put as many of her things out in the open as possible as that seems to work best, so more open shelving, and fewer drawers.

Hello, I have been overwhelmed with all of the help and suggestions. Thanks you so much. Yes the rail is definitely a good idea I will use. I can really identify with your story too. I was going to have a sort out with her this week but I may see if she can stay with my brother (who lives around 100 miles away) for a weekend and have a blitz. My mam has a wonderful cleaner (who is a saint) and who without I would dread to think what the house would be like. I am also going to arrange a care assessment. Thank you again. You are all wonderful.
 

Mrs Bumble

Registered User
Jul 19, 2016
8
0
Hello Sue, it really does help having a first hand insight. I do believe my mam has many similar traits. She tells me that she forgets what she already has and also has lists of what to buy and what not to buy and then she completely forgets. She also keeps all containers an wrappings. I will try and the bag idea for the containers and also I like the idea of an open clothes rail. Thanks so much for being so open and helpful. I really wish you all the best. It sounds like you are coping amazingly well.

The clothes rail worked a treat. She loves it. Thanks for the tip.
 

claireizz

Registered User
Jun 1, 2014
53
0
My nan is the same ...becomes fixated on items, and then moves on to a new fixation. A frequent one is stuffing tissues everywhere or becoming obsessed over having many of a certain thing and saying every day she has run out of that item and needs more. I can only think she feels: oh and I need some of those .....drifts off into what I call her happy place ...drifts back in and thinks, oh I need some of those - and so the circle goes on
 

ianchanning

New member
Jun 10, 2021
2
0
Since my symptoms began 7 years ago, I began some of these behaviours:confused: which to me was/is something totally new and a change in my personality but something I have struggled to manage and understand. For me, one of the main reasons is that I 'lose' huge chunks of time when I have bad 'brain bouts' which seem to wipe my memory of recent things so I forget what I have bought, and so think I need it - this is true of clothes, food and other items and drives me potty apart from being expensive and having gone from working with a reasonable income to living on benefits, which contrary to what some might believe are not that easy to be granted either - I'm not complaining, as I am thankful for what I get but it makes things very difficult.

I also seem to need to hold onto containers and anything that might be useful:eek::rolleyes:, and when I get my old self back occasionally, I have to take the bull by the horns and clear things out - these glimpses are rare, I might add, I also tell my HH when I am in that mood get rid of anything I let her quick before it changes again:D What I have tried and is helping, a bit, is to keep a big bag of containers etc. which is more than enough for what I might need, I do use them, so anything extra should go in the bin and give her permission to throw them out. Sometimes, I will can get distressed and know then isn't the time and am not always sure what causes the distress simply that I am and so not a good idea to do it.

Why do I do these things as opposed to some other meaningful activity that I once did? Because my brain, much of the time is unable to focus on anything for any length of time. I try to give myself activites/things to do that I can flit between when I am in such a phase e.g. jigsaw puzzles, interesting books of images things that interest me and am trying to get creative with rubbish!!!

I have had to alter my home to adapt and make life easier. I have bought an open clothes rail so that my wardrobe is always visible, I am not always able to 'see' it but at least when I can/do it reinforces to my brain what clothes I have. It also helps, a bit, to write lists of what I have put in the fridge & freezer as when I can't 'think' I can look at the list which sometimes, but not always helps.

I realise that I have insight and understand my condition and am relatively young which is not the case for older people who have probably lived with the condition for a lot longer - I don't relish the thought of it getting worse:( and by fighting it and making changes to how I live makes me feel I still have some control rather than this disease or other people which for me is vital. I am too, aware of those who see my vulnerability at times and would exploit it, all I can say is if I meet them on a bad day they get very short shrift and I can get very vocal:eek::D

I hope it helps.

Best wishes
Sue:)
Thank you for sharing this - it is lovely to hear first hand accounts of why people do it.
 

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