Does Alzheimer’s or Dementia Cause Hoarding?

A concerned son asked, “Does Alzheimer’s cause hoarding?”

Their dad has begun to save all sorts of objects: plastic tubs, vegetable cans, and plain old nails. Cans and cans of nails.

(Related: Legal and Financial Resources for People with Alzheimer’s Disease)

While there is no certain root cause of hoarding, we must not forget that a person with Alzheimer’s or dementia is losing short-term memory first. As this process occurs, their long-term memory may grow increasingly vivid. And during later stages of dementia, the person is not thinking rationally and often their actions cannot be explained.

Most often those suffering from dementia are elderly, perhaps he or she is recalling the poverty of the Great Depression, or the admonition of their parents: “pinch every penny you can.”

(Related: Alzheimer’s Disease – A Growing Health Concern)

If this behavior isn’t leading to any problems, then what’s the difference? If it begins to occupy too much space in the home or becomes a health issue, search for a reasonable middle-ground. Maybe designate one small cabinet for her own use. Sure, occasionally she’ll forget, but remind her of her own cabinet. Once it is filled, throw a few things away.

Yes, it will be a challenge, but nothing you can’t handle. Always remember to pick your battles. Don’t be defeated by the little things. Find a way to compromise.

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