Hoarding Disorder in Older Adults during the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Case Report
Hoarding disorder is a widely recognized age-related mental health disorder. Its implications adversely impact the full spectrum of individuals’ interpersonal, physiological, mental, vocational, and environmental health. The 2019 Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) began affecting North America in January 2020, and its lockdown measures (social distancing and stay- at-home orders) directly interfered with social interactions and daily life functioning. This particularly affected older adults with hoarding disorder, who often resort to maladaptive behaviours (excessive acquisition of items) to buffer against psychological distress. To address this problem, the current case report details a 66-year-old woman, Evelyn Sakash, who died in connection with compulsive hoarding behaviour during the COVID-19 pandemic. Findings suggest that social isolation, ineffective coping skills, childhood poverty aftermath, and
interpersonal relationship disruptions were significant factors contributing to Evelyn’s undue object attachment during the COVID-19 outbreak. Drawing on Evelyn’s tragic accident during the COVID-19 pandemic, it is imperative to increase awareness of the risks and seriousness of older adults’ complications when living with hoarding disorder among healthcare professionals. This case report highlights the importance of early detection and early intervention of hoarding disorder in older adults, including routinely assessing their physical and mental health statuses, social support systems, and coping mechanisms, especially during indefinite pandemic-induced lockdowns.
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