My Mother’s Hoarder Behavior is Affecting Her Life In the Nursing Home

By on August 18, 2015

Mother resides in nursing home. Her home was packed up by myself and my brother. Every time I as a Pile of misc items stored in an unorganized fashion in a roomdaughter visits Mum, first thing she wants is certain clothes that I may not have taken to her at nursing home. She hoarded 5 double wardrobes of clothes in her home and I gathered only nice clothes to fit into 1 wardrobe at nursing home. Rest of clothes were donated to charity. Home sold now. My question is why is it every time i smile as i walk in to visit my mum that she abuses me negatively about certain clothing items she still wants. Colour, item, price is always the first thing she wants to argue about. I don’t know how to divert to escape this regular bad greeting when she sees me. Please help.

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Anna,

Thank you so much for your question. You do not say if your mom has dementia or why she is in the nursing home. Since you have expressed that your mom hoarded clothes, and she is discussing color, price etc of specific items, She may be a compulsive hoarder.  Compulsive hoarding is considered a symptom of obsessive compulsive personality disorder (OCPD) and may develop along with other mental illnesses, such as dementia and schizophrenia. Hoarders whose homes are cleared without their consent may experience extreme distress. This may cause her to become further attached to her possessions.

People that hoard may have a persistent inability to be separated from her things. The first thing I would suggest is to not argue with her, but listen to her. I would suggest that you show an interest in what she is trying to say to you.

You may want to respond to her questions about her clothes by saying ” I understand you want your clothes, I really do. What do you think you would like to do with this situation? We were limited to the amount of clothes you could bring here. We were also warned that nice clothes may get stolen or lost. How do you suggest that we proceed with this situation? ”

I would suggest that you try to direct the subject to her present goals and what is important to her. ” Mum, you are focusing on your things, and we have not discussed with is important to you. I love to visit you, I want to visit you. Isn’t that important to you as well?  Well, you have been so negative and make me feel so bad when I come to visit, that I am getting to the point where I just do not want to come. How does your feelings about your clothes fit in with your desire to have me visit?  You have always said that my visits cheer you up, right?  So, how do you think you can pursue that goal of enjoying my visits when you make your clothes such a difficult subject between us right now? ”

Anna, this will not change overnight. Really try to redirect her with these types of statements and never engage in an argument. Be patient and it will all resolve over time.

 

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