Hoarding is considered to be a mental disorder and it can cause health problems in many people. Hoarding is when a person starts collecting a large quantity of items, usually items that have no useful purpose or value. Hoarding food can be especially dangerous since food can spoil and cause disease. In this article we would like to offer some tips and advice for family caregivers who are worried that their elderly loved one might be hoarding food and facing potential health risks.
Those who are concerned that their elderly loved one is hoarding food should make sure that they know what to look for. One easy way to tell if your loved one is hoarding food is to keep an eye on what they buy. Those who hoard food tend to buy a lot of one item or start to buy more than they could possibly eat before the foods reach their expiration dates. Some seniors will go to discount food stores and purchase large amounts of food that get moldy, stale or spoiled before they have the chance to eat it all. Others start to purchase a lot of new foods that they do not usually eat and claim that they plan to try it, but it eventually goes bad before they get around to it.
Another way to tell if your loved one is hoarding food is to check their pantry and refrigerator. If the house smells like rotting food, take a look around the kitchen to make sure that they have not collected lots of fruit and vegetables that have spoiled. Be sure to check the refrigerator to see if it is extremely full and check the expiration dates on foods to make sure that they are not spoiled. Canned goods and non-perishable items tend to last for a long time in the pantry, but your loved one might be hoarding food if there are any rusty or swollen cans or boxed items with expiration dates that passed a long time ago. Items in the freezer also tend to have a longer shelf life, but after a few months they will need to be thrown out as well. Those who find any spoiled or expired foods should help their loved one get rid of them so that they will not get sick from eating them.
Hoarding might not seem like a big deal to some people, but it can cause serious health problems. Many people get food poisoning at some point in their life, but the chance of suffering from some type of complication from food poisoning is greater for the elderly because their immune systems are weaker. Eating bad food can also cause E. coli, botulism, salmonella and Listeria. Seniors should especially avoid meats and dairy products that are past their expiration date because eating expired foods greatly increases their risk of getting these diseases. Some of these diseases can come from contaminated foods, but the chance of contracting the disease is significantly greater for expired foods. Many of these illnesses are much more serious than just a mild case of food poisoning, so it is very important to make sure that your loved one is not eating expired foods. Expired foods can also attract bugs and rodents which bring in their own diseases and bacteria, so it is important to throw out all expired food items.
Before going in and completely cleaning out all of your loved one’s food cabinets, it is important to find out what caused their hoarding. Many seniors on fixed income keep items past their expiration date because they do not want to waste anything, but then again hoarding can be caused by something else. If you are worried that your loved one is hoarding because they have experienced some type of loss or personal problem, you might want to consider getting them professional help. Throwing out all of their expired and spoiled food can be a temporary fix, but it is always possible that they will start to recollect items in the future if you take this approach. Family caregivers should take the time to listen and find out what is really causing the problem; they should express their concern so that their loved one knows they cannot keep up their behavior. Eating and storing expired foods can be dangerous for your loved one as well as any guests who eat at their house. Letting your loved one know that you are concerned about that is a good way to bring their attention to the problem while also letting them know that you are just trying to look out for them. By following these tips family caregivers can help their elderly loved ones stop hoarding food so that they can live a healthy life.
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