Hoarding Woes: A Moment of Clarity


2 thoughts on “Hoarding Woes: A Moment of Clarity

  1. Kathi Hale


    I have been reading your blog for sometime now and feel like an intruder if I don’t at least let you know I am here. I admire you and your family for the excellent care and valiant efforts to be a part of your aunt’s life. I would think it could be more frustrating than you let on in your writings. You have been so respectful and in tune with your aunt and her wishes.

    Your description of dementia has helped me tremendously…both your personal reflections and the clinical observations. My husband had a stroke in 2003, has worked since then but is recently showing some cognitive decline. I am able to identify some of his thoughts/behaviors as similar to your aunts. For what it is worth from my objective viewpoint her dementia has progressed since she has been gone from her home and I understand this is quite common for seniors.

    I don’t understand why the home isn’t protecting her anymore than they appear to be. Don’t falls/injuries have to be reported to the state adult protective services? I also don’t understand why they are not able to keep her from attempting to walk. As you know her leg will never heal if she is continually putting her weight–however light she is–on it. A few years ago when I was 63 I broke my tibia/fibula after a fall…I had a non weight bearing cast, used a walker for 6 months which was a nightmare in the beginning. I realize she is older and can’t remember well but it would seem as if the pain would be unbearable if she were to put weight on it. Would she be safer in another living environment? I don’t mean your home or hers but another kind of institutional setting where she could be monitored closer.

    Hoarding fascinates me…I have some traits that could get out of hand…I can’t throw away anything my children/grandchildren send/give me, etc. At this time I am okay though but I do understand the mind set behind it. I worked as a chemical dependency professional, in other words a drug/alcohol counselor, so I understand addiction/compulsion.

    I have watched Hoarders on both A&E and TLC with a morbid fascination. I look at hoards and think “how do they live this way”? but it does make sense with some clinical background. I just read the book “Dirty Little Secret” which was a novel but I felt described the feelings/thoughts of a child of a hoarder very well…The high school girl came home and her mom was dead from an asthma attack brought on by not being able to reach her inhaler that a box of “stuff” had fallen on. The book goes through the next 24 hours hour by hour as she describes her thoughts. She knew her mom was dead so had to figure out how to call 911 but still keep the family “secret”. It was very interesting to me.

    I enjoy your blog although I don’t read it to be entertained as it is a daily tragedy. I also think your aunt looks so sweet without her wig…she is a pretty woman and must have a wonderful and interesting life story.

    Thank you for your openness and willingness to share. Peace….kathi rose

    1. Kathi, thank your for your thoughtful and genuine insights. Things have deteriorated and I think that was the crux of the problem re on going injuries for my aunt. She did come in with the knee/calf injury and was pretty compliant for awhile. She infrequently tried to get up at night. But, at about the two month mark her appointment with the ortho surgeon may have been a turning point.

      At that point on she suddenly started wandering at night, with and without the walker and the staff seemed to deal with it adequately in returning her into bed. There were no restraints. The dementia didn’t exist in our minds (so to speak). She seemed forgetful and determined. She was cautioned about risk and signs were created as gentle reminders and her alert button was placed around her neck. We were all treating her as rational and comprehending…and stubborn. We were all missing the actuality of her mental status.

      The physical therapist called in speech pathologist moderately trained in mental assessments. At the same time, within days of the assessment’s scheduled occurrence, my aunt started with the random accusations. Then the assessment and determination that my aunt was mild to moderate into dementia, then that night my aunt exited the bed and fell doing the damage to her neck. The whole hospital affair degenerated into a terrible confirmation that something was horribly wrong.

      From that point on restraints and all night care have been in place but of course that was a bit late. i don’t find fault with the care staff as we were all pleading, reasoning, begging my aunt to act responsibly. She couldn’t. It was not that she was stubborn or determined, it was that she was some place else. But, of course, now we see and it all seems it could have been avoided. Not so sure. At least from a family perspective we were in denial, planning for her return home. Geeze,….she wasn’t capable of going home.

      The staff was reluctant to use any restraints and they pushed for mental assessments. In the end, a social worker has been out twice to assess the care and four health care providers independent of the care facility have visited and reports have been filed. It has been a sad venture. Different than caring for my dying mom. This is slower and in many ways more challenging. I believe your comments show you have an enormous grasp of life’s challenges. It was very kind of you to write to me Kathi Rose…thank you. And, yes, my aunt and my mom have/had an amazing story to share. I am honored to have been near such amazing women. Humbled actually.

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