How to Handle Difficult Behaviors
May have a compulsive disorder. Or may be bored or lonely and like to see, for example, the UPS man who delivers what's ordered from catalogs or the TV. Some people are simply pack rats who hang onto things for sentimental reasons. Hoarding can also be a symptom of dementia.
What to do:
Focus on safety. Clear pathways of paper or boxes to prevent falls. Make sure countertops are clear enough so that essentials such as medications or the telephone can be found. Remove fire hazards.
Surreptitiously clear refuse when the person can't see you. Getting rid of what seems like junk to you can be traumatic for the hoarder.
Offer to take pictures of favorite objects and create an album, then box up these "extras" that there's no space for.
Try introducing more activities to preoccupy your loved one, such as bingo, painting, woodwork, or even simple household tasks -- anything that occupies hands and mind.
If the behavior is new or becoming extreme, mention it to a doctor. A mental health professional may be able to help in cases of true hoarding.