Hi all! I'm currently visiting some relatives in Australia (I'm from Singapore BTW) and I've noticed that their mom (my grandaunt) isn't very well. To be precise, she has hoarding compulsions and insists on filling up every available space with food. When the food rots she throws it away and buys more. In addition, she recovered from a stroke a few years ago but doesn't seem to want to continue with physical therapy, so her left leg is semi-paralyzed and she has to use a walking frame to get around.

She's also semi-delusional and will sometimes tell people that they did things they didn't do or that they didn't do things that they did do.

All this poses a strain on my granduncle, who is her primary caregiver. I think he is dealing with it pretty well considering his age (he is 70+) but I remain concerned.

Her family is very concerned for her well-being and would like her to go to see a doctor, but she steadfastly refuses, maintaining that there is nothing wrong with her. She gets very upset if anyone tries to throw away whatever she's hoarded. She's only semi-literate in English so it's hard to get her to read anything. My cousins tell me that she has led a very hard life with probable trauma/child abuse when she was younger, which would probably explain her current situation.

As it stands what my granduncle does is let her buy the food, then let her throw it away when it rots - not the perfect solution but according to him at least it keeps the peace!

The way I see it the best way to help would be to get her to see a doctor who could help by prescribing medication of some kind, but if the patient does not think she's sick, I'm not sure what to do.

Any ideas?

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Thanks for the replies! I think my grandaunt is around 60+ or so, can't be sure. Her husband drives her to the department store where she can meet some friends, which is where she does her shopping.

Not sure about the prospect of dementia, I initially thought it was anxiety issues but yeah, that is another possibility. I guess only a doctor would know for sure, but the whole problem is that she doesn't want to go see one. :(

I could suggest to the family that perhaps my granddad could shop instead, that would cut down the wastage.
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Hoarding is a compulsion that is difficult to treat. I am glad that she is able to let go of the rotten food. Some hoarders will have a fit if you try to throw away the bad food. The main thing would be to try to help her stop buying. Food is expensive, so I know there is much money wasted. I wonder if someone could help her with an organized shopping list. It would be nice if she let someone else do the shopping for her, since she is compulsive. My mother was a compulsive food shopper and I quickly learned that she and I could not shop together. She would grab stuff we didn't need and I would put it back. It was a battle to take her with me to the store. Her dementia made it impossible to reason with her. She didn't understand that we already had 10 of something and didn't need any more. She looked on it, instead, as me treating her as a child.

Your aunt is still fairly young. I wonder if she may have some vascular dementia, since she had a serious stroke and has the memory/thought issues you talked about. Have they mentioned it to you? Since she is still young, I think the idea of a psychiatric examination is a very good one. But good luck trying to convince her of that! It seems the more someone needs to see a good psychiatrist, the less willing they are to do it.
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Since she's walking only with the assistance of a walker, she probably won't be able to buy as much in the future. I have a hoarder mthr, and she bought until she could not get out anymore. When she moved into a nursing home, she hoarded toilet paper tubes and used paper towels! Hopefully she will progress to a point where she can't buy more while her husband can still look after her. We did not find drugs to be helpful to prevent the hoarding.
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