Why hoarding is a threat to senior health and safety
August 23, 2017 Laurel E. Kenworthy
We all know collectors – those who seem to never have enough stamps, salt shakers, or seashells. Some people start collections because they love the objects they collect, while others amass large collections as an investment, hoping their collection will increase in value. While some collecting may seem a bit eccentric, it’s all innocent enough – right?
But when does collecting become excessive and tip from collecting to hoarding? And even more importantly, when does hoarding become a real health hazard?
Hebrew SeniorLife has long valued the connection between mind and body, with much of our Institute for Aging Research work focusing on how brain function is linked to fall risk and mobility and investigating how an activity like Tai Chi can benefit older adults. Christina Rice, our director of fitness at NewBridge on the Charles in Dedham, Massachusetts, was inspired by programs that combine physical and cognitive exercise together.
Famed motivational speaker Jim Rohn once said, “effective communication is 20% what you know, and 80% how you feel about what you know.” For those facing health care decisions at the end of their lives, effectively communicating how they feel can be hard; and for those trying to do so without a voice, it can be next to impossible.
Many seniors facing end-of-life decisions are battling conditions that render them speechless, and sometimes, too weak to rely on handwritten words. For example, a person diagnosed with ALS (also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease) may be unable to express their wishes in conventional ways due to complications related to their illness. This can be a huge challenge for the patient, the patient’s family, and the medical team charged with providing care.
As parents, watching our children take their first steps is one of the proudest, most gratifying moments imaginable. As adult children, watching our parents begin to lose their footing is one of the most concerning. Those who find themselves at this juncture are often left wondering what to do and where to turn for more information.
To help with this dilemma, we’ve asked Timothy Parke, Rehab Clinical Supervisor at Orchard Cove and a Board Certified Specialist in geriatric physical therapy to answer some fundamental questions about assistive devices.