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How can I help an elderly friend?

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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.

How can I help an elderly friend?

Answered by on -


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.

How can I help an elderly friend?

Holly Counts, Psy.D.

Dr. Holly Counts is a licensed Clinical Psychologist. She utilizes a mind, body and spirit approach to healing. Dr. Counts received her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Wright State University and her Masters and Doctoral degrees in Clinical Psychology from Nova Southeastern University. Dr. Counts has worked in a variety of settings and has specialized in trauma and abuse, relationship issues, health psychology, women’s issues, adolescence, GLBT, life transitions and grief counseling. She has specialty training in guided imagery, EMDR, EFT, hypnosis and using intuition to heal. Her current passion involves integrating holistic and alternative approaches to health and healing with psychology.

APA Reference
Counts, H. (2018). How can I help an elderly friend?. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 24, 2019, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 May 2018
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 May 2018
Published on Psych All rights reserved.