“You never know when that will come in handy” is one of my favourite expressions when something is slightly broken. It can be difficult to throw things away and then to buy a replacement. A move to a new residence, either in order to be closer to medical attention or for financial reasons, could illicit the same emotion, except this time it needs to be managed.
There may be less storage space in the new residence, which could result in a resistance to the downsize, because getting rid of possessions that have been accumulated over a lifetime is the same as losing cherished memories, or is it? If you are facing this situation at the moment, there is a mental process that you can follow to make the moving process easier.
Studies have confirmed that compulsive hoarding is strongly familial and that it involves a different pattern of glucose metabolism in the brain as opposed to the pattern of non-hoarding patients. Families that showed hoarding tendencies showed a unique pattern of chromosome 14 as opposed to chromosome 3 in other families, in a sample of 999 obsessive-compulsive disorder patients at the John Hopkins School of Medicine. The advice given is for parents and their children to be open and honest about the issue, because people who can talk about the problem are much more able to control their compulsive hoarding than those who cannot do so. Biology is not destiny.
One possible solution to compulsive hoarding that will reduce the distress is to encourage the donation of goods to local charities, because it should then be replaced by a logic that the things had not really been useful and that other people might get more use out of them.
Enlisting friends and family to help in the physical process would make it go faster, and if you can separate the special mementos, it will be less overwhelming and time consuming. Letting family members choose their own mementos will help with the thought of keeping it in the family.
Diogenese syndrome is the medical term given to extreme cases of hoarding, where the home or office becomes unusable, extreme self-neglect and domestic squalor is present and social withdrawal occurs. Miss Havisham in Great Expectations is a good example of this, when she would sit at her dressing table in a rotting and never used wedding dress.
The suggestion above that it could be a medical condition, together with known causes and symptoms, should help you and a possible caregiver from Senior Support to get the help needed.
The Genetics of Compulsive Hoarding – Jane Collingwood
Great Expectations – Charles Dickens