There are many different behaviors that come along with dementia. Hoarding is one of them. Hoarding is defined by the America Psychiatry Association as "excessively saving items that others may view as worthless". For people living with dementia, someone may hoard items to "keep them safe" as they feel people are "stealing from them". They may also hoard items because they do not realize that they already have that item and think they need one. Once someone with dementia hoards items, they tend to put items in places and cannot recall where they placed the item. There are specific steps to follow when trying to remove items from a hoarding situation.
Trade. Always trade an item for an item. Example, if you see that someone living with dementia is hoarding cookies, trade the cookies for applesauce or a non-food item that may hold their attention.
Remove trash immediately so the individual doesn't feel motivated to take items out of the trash and hoard them again.
Try to get the person that is hoarding items involved in activities or away out of there home while you de-clutter the living space.
Do not de-clutter all at once. Do a little at a time. This reduces stress for the hoarder.
Identify recurrent hiding places so you can search those specific areas each time. However, someone with dementia may have multiple hiding places and tend to move items from hiding place to hiding place.
Hoarding & losing items can be difficult for family members to deal with, but it's always good to keep in mind that it's the disease that is making them have these behaviors. Even though they may do these specific things, try to stay empathetic, patient, & calm. If needing extra assistance on this topic, call Danielle Helgerson, Certified Dementia Practitioner, at 319-540-4787.