Q: Dad has a hoarding disorder. How can I convince him to quit collecting things and clean up?
A: Hoarding is a huge problem with many seniors. You might not be the best person to discuss this with your father. There are excellent professionals who do nothing but deal with this issue.
It's great that you are aware of the problem, because nothing good can come of this. There are health issues galore, not to mention safety issues. Seniors who hoard have a compulsion collect and save items. People who cannot bring themselves to get rid of their belongings are risking complications that can really wreak havoc on a family's life. These behaviors are usually discovered when emergency services are required. There may be a fire in the kitchen or a health emergency where first responders cannot get into the house or get a stretcher through the door.
Sometimes neighbors may report the unusual activity. In an apartment building, the hoard may be discovered when maintenance people cannot get into the dwelling for regular upkeep or repairs. I don't mean to scare you, but this situation can be incredibly dangerous. Even if a loved one clears their clutter, room is created for new and better things to be collected, and they may relapse.
It's important to establish a trusting relationship with the person. This is extremely difficult to deal with, especially if this person is your parent. There is a great deal of emotion attached to the problem. So often, family members try to solve this problem simply by cleaning out the house and throwing everything away. Although this is well intentioned, it is the worst thing that you can do. Professionals know exactly where and how to begin. There is a psychological reason why your father has begun to exhibit these unusual behaviors.
The truth is that you are not in a position to be able to diagnose what is wrong or why, and you cannot expect yourself to be able to effectively address and solve the problem. Hiring a specialist is going to be worth every penny and will undoubtedly save your dad from having something more serious happen to him like a fall or a fire.