It seems dementia and hoarding go hand in hand in many cases. Hoarding, hiding, and rummaging behaviors are covered in this PDF from the Alzheimer’s Association. This helps some people with dementia feel secure and removing old useless clutter causes them emotional upset. So “de-hoarding” cannot be accomplished easily while the person is living at home. My attempts to organize with file folders, file cabinets, bins with large labels, 3-ring binders, and on and on never worked with my LO. It just kept me busy and upset. Nothing worked.

So, when LO was moved to memory care after being violent at home and the situation was beyond my control, I began the de-hoarding process of 53 years of stuff. After a year, I am not done. It is exhausting especially when I try to visit LO several hours per day. Too much, too long, and very upsetting although I hired many companies and individuals. Steri-Clean was first and they spent 3 days here although we had none of the extra special type of clean-up (blood, murder, toxic waste) needs they specialize in. The social worker at one hospital recommended them. One of the workers said it was like a vacation to get rid of our stuff as they didn’t have to wear special clothing. They are a great company and have been on television episodes of The Hoarders showcasing their heavy-lifting, miracle workers, as they transformed unlivable houses into functional homes. Our home was only unlivable to us and would not have made for a TV show.

However, there was still much to do. LO had prevented decluttering, organizing, or cleaning by myself. What did he have against cleaning? I do not know but he would take the vacuum or mop out of my hand. We were living in a townhouse, with everything from the 4-bedroom family home and up north cabin stuffed in here as well. How long had the dementia gone on? I’ll never know as LO refused to talk to a doctor until only 2 years ago. But if this is evidence, it had gone on for many years.

Before and after de-hoarding by Steri-Clean MN
Before and after de-hoarding by Steri-Clean MN