Compulsive hoarding: thought and ideas?
I have a question concerning compulsive hoarding in the elderly, specifically, my mother. Both she and my father had been this way for years. Their home was generally clean but very full mainy of things that most would consider not worth much, in fact there is one unused bedroom that you cannot get into it is so full of stuff. Both also had what I would call bibliomania. The entire house is full of books and magazines.
My father died at home this spring and as you can imagine, this was very traumatic for my mother. In the following weeks we tried to clear out some of my dads things but any attempt was met with hysterics from mom so we gave up until the wound had time to heal. It has been nine months now, dads clothes still pack his closet, chest and even the floor on his side of the bed.
So, basically, nothing has changed and nothing will change without major intervention and subsequent trauma to her psyche. The only reason there is not more in the home is because mom has become even more reclusive since dads death, rarely going out. At 79, most of the friends she had have also passed on and she has no interest in meeting new people or even interacting socially. Family is fine, in small doses.
She is in generally poor health. Her doctor once told her “You have seven major things wrong with you, I am just trying to keep you alive!”. She is overweight, has diabetes, hives and, over the past 3 years, dementia. Overall she is happy, in no small part to the dementia, but gets morose over the death of my father. She has developed paranoia, certain that people are talking about her, watching her and planning to put her in a nursing home. She is sometimes lonely but generally is content to putter around her home and yard, read her books and magazines and live in her memories.
So, my question is: Do we allow her to live her life out peacefully, surrounded by way too many things but things that comfort her, providing the medications that she now takes to allieve the medical problems she now has until she either passes away or descends so far into her dementia that she has no idea where she is? Or do we look to aggressively treat the hoarding, disrupting her life and generally causing a tremendous emotional upheaval that could also hasten her passing?
I apologize for the length of this question but I wanted to get as much info as possible. I do not think there is an easy or painless answer to this question, you can probably tell from the tone of the actual question which way I am leaning but I feel I am making a decision based on what is best for the family, not for mom.
I am mainly looking to get different points of view.
This question is in the General Section. Responses must be helpful and on-topic.