Too much decluttering? Disorder can affect many, including seniors

Some may see it as the perfect psychiatric disorder. After all, who would ever question an immaculate home?

For many seniors, the constant need to get rid of clutter and junk is not always healthy.

We’ve certainly seen our share of stories of homes cluttered by compulsive hoarding. There are many seniors who simply cannot discard items and live in cramped conditions with rooms filled to capacity and pathways barely wide enough to walk.

Then there are those who are the complete opposite.

“It looks like a good idea, so it’s often misunderstood and people are like, ‘Oh, they’re just cleaning up and they’re decluttering,’ but when we mean decluttering, like obsessive compulsive spartanism is the term that’s often used,” said psychologist Dr. Allana Coffee. “There’s really nothing in the room. It is austere. It’s problematic.”

People with this type of obsessive compulsive disorder hate clutter and junk, and tend to throw or give away items that they feel clutter their life.

“When they have belongings or possessions in their home, they feel physically sick. They actually have a visceral response,” Coffee said. “They are uncomfortable with those things, so they buy them, use them, and give them away, buy them use them and throw them away… These are functional things, even appliances. Declutterers get rid of even appliances.”

That can create tension in relationships.

“It is difficult for people who have a decluttering disorder to live with others,” Coffee said. “I mean other people’s belongings got to go too.”

So what do you do if your loved one is coping with this? You can start with a conversation.

“I just suggest, ‘Hey, mom, have you talked to your doctor about this? Why don’t you go talk to your doctor about this? Because it looks like it’s bothering you,'” Coffee suggested.

It’s important to do so. It could be also be sign of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

“As respectful as we can be is really key here, because these are their memories. These are their lives. It’s so precious to them, so as respectful as we can be as the children,” Coffee warned. “We’re often very impatient, like ‘Just do it Mom. Hurry up Dad,’ but this calls for patience and respect.”

Patience, respect, and being sensitive to their space.

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