Question: My mom is 82 and ill. During recent hospitalizations we showed pictures to her doctors. They said worst case of compulsive hoarding they had ever seen. She is collecting again. We need HELP in caring for her and a way to help her stop filling up the house with newspapers/boxes/etc. She is clinically depressed and has taken Zoloft. She won’t see a doctor about it.
I am are planning to move her in with myself within the next three months, so will need to have her house fully cleared. I am currentley in talks with Tiffany from the Cluttered Houses Clearance Company regarding availabilty and costs etc, she recommended I posted here for advice regarding moving forward with my mums compulsive hoarding.
Answer: Hoarding can often be a severe form of OCD that afflicts older adults more often than younger ones. You might consult a chapter on hoarding In Jenike, Baer & Minichiello’s 1998 book on OCD published by Mosby press for information about hoarding and treatment suggestions. Some services providers in social service agencies may be helpful assistants, along with family members, in helping clear out clutter but it is important to include your mother in the process so that she does not feel victimized but part of the decision-making and change process. Continued near the bottom of this page.
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Answer 2: OCD with hoarding may be more common in the elderly for reasons that are unclear to me. This type of OCD is very difficult to treat and is not likely to respond to medication alone. What is required is a therapist trained in CBT and its application to OCD and hoarding who is willing to come to the house or use other assistants who will do this. Even then people who hoard are often uncooperative with treatment. If your mother is elderly it may come to your taking control of where she lives and what happens there via guardianship or similar action.
Answer 3: In my experience hoarding in older people often comes on along with severe depression, and often goes away when the depression is treated. She needs to talk to a doctor – focus on the depression. Other options besides Zoloft are other medications, cognitive therapy, or ECT, which is safe and effective in elderly people.