Hoarding is a very complex issue and more prevalent than many healthcare professionals realize. Because hoarding is difficult to detect – it is often not considered during an office visit or a hospitalization – home visits are a crucial part of care planning for vulnerable patients in the community.
Extreme clutter can significantly hinder or prevent the provision of safe and effective care in a patient’s home. This type of environment can create significant risks including falls, skin breakdown, severe isolation, malnutrition, respiratory difficulties and infection.
Once discovered, treatment can be very difficult as those affected often don’t see a problem and aren’t prepared to part with their cherished belongings. While change isn’t likely to occur overnight, it is certainly possible with ongoing support and guidance.
One of Champlain CCAC’s Care Coordinators was recently involved in a situation where an elderly man living alone was at high risk due to multiple medical problems, including mild cognitive impairment. With no support network to speak of, he began to experience falls in the home, which led to multiple ER visits and a notable deterioration in his ability to manage activities of daily living. Although support services were offered, he insisted that he could manage on his own.
Upon further investigation – and following a home visit by a Care Coordinator – it was agreed that the patient’s priority was to clear his home of immense clutter left by his wife after her passing. Amidst this man’s falls and pain, arrangements were made to have the home cleared. Once this was completed, he finally opened up to, and appreciated, receiving some much needed in-home support.
Resources to address hoarding are limited and assistance, unfortunately, does not come without financial cost. You can visit Champlainhealthline.ca to access community resources or contact the Champlain Community Care Access Center (CCAC) for additional information and support.