My grandparents grew up during the depression. As a direct result, and like so many other aging parents in our Sandwich Generation families, they never met anything they wanted to throw away! I used to love going over to their house when I was growing up. They had the coolest "rumpus" room filled to the brim with all sorts of interesting oddities like the old-fashioned washing machines I think they used to call a wringer washer, like this:
It sat in that rumpus room through my whole childhood and I don't ever remember them using it. But it was there, just in case! Later, as a teen, we all moved two hours away to the "country" where they had a house with a six car garage. They kept it reasonably neat and totally full of all sorts of things they no longer were using, but wanted to keep just in case.
Nowadays, shows like Hoarders take you to homes where people save way more even than my grandparents saved, and those are usually NOT as neat as my grandparents. Many of these folks never lived through the depression, so why are they saving so much? Perhaps it's their way of "controlling" a part of their life when perhaps they feel the rest of their life is out of control. Or maybe they are in the midst of depression and are unable to deal with much of anything, let alone organizing, cleaning, or decluttering. Sometimes, all their possessions are full of precious memories and they just can't lose those. In fact, parting with items full of their family memories is just too difficult for them emotionally. And sometimes, sadly, they may be in the early stages of Alzheimers Disease or some other illness that is so changing them, they are unable to deal with much of anything, let alone giving anything away.
What about those of us who are caring for aging parents or other loved ones who are allowing possessions to take over their homes in a very extreme way. What, if anything can we or should we do. Oyyyy, that can definitely be a loaded question, can't it! Those of us who regularly get together of #ElderCareChat discussed all of this on Wednesday and enjoyed a special guest, Dorothy Breininger , from the A&E show, Hoarders. There were many interesting comments made, and several useful resources listed. You can read the general recap at Seniors For Living along with an interview they did with Ms. Breininger. You can also find the "full transcript courtesy of the great people at The Fox Group by clicking here.
The timing of this chat was especially interesting as I had just watched an episode of In Plain Sight dealing with a younger hoarder, who was consumed by keeping everything she could, because of all she had lost when she went into the witness security program. In the show, one of the marshals goes to her house, discovers her house overrun with dolls, possessions, and live rabbits. She immediately gets on the phone to report it to her boss, requesting help to come and clear everything out – right in the earshot of the owner. Not too surprisingly, the owner freaks out, grabs the marshals gun, and a standoff ensues. In case you like that show and haven't seen the ending, I'll not give anything away. 🙂 My point is, that if we are caring for a loved one who is having difficulties in this area, it's so vital to treat this as gently and carefully as any of the other Sandwich Generation issues we are dealing with – including helping them with doctor appointments, hospitilizations, etc. Whether their reasons are surviving the depression or an undiagnosed health problem, LOTS of prayer, caution, care, and good communication will never go amiss.
And speaking of helping our aging parents at their doctor appointments along with good communication, you'll also find me over at EldercareABC this week, with my latest article for all of us caregivers, in AND out of the Sandwich Generation, Full Communication With Elderly Parents Doctor Can Ease Pain Considerably. I'd love to hear your comments about it or the #ElderCareChat. 🙂