How can I help an elderly friend?

By Holly Counts, Psy.D.

Q: I have a friend that is in her early 70′s. She has a three bedroom house. She sleeps in her recliner because she cannot get into her bedrooms. She has a problem with saving everything. Her stove top is covered with papers, magazines, small boxes and just trash. I have tried to help her organize things but it seems like she just moves them from one place to another. Is this a mental disorder? She said that she didn’t used to have this problem. I am worried about her and want to help if I can. Thank you.

A: It certainly could be part of a mental illness. Hoarding can be a symptom of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), but given her age it could also just be that she is unable to physically keep up with the demands of a 3 bedroom house. I would suggest trying to find some help in your area through professional agencies to see if someone could come in and assess the situation. You could call the local Area Agency on Aging, the local community mental health center, or even Adult Protective Services to find out what resources your community has. Good luck and thanks for being concerned.

 

 

Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 29 Jul 2007

APA Reference
Counts, H. (2007). How can I help an elderly friend?. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 19, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2007/07/29/how-can-i-help-an-elderly-friend/