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Int Psychogeriatr. 2003 Sep;15(3):289-306.

Hoarding behavior in the elderly: a comparison between community-dwelling persons and nursing home residents.

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Research Institute on Aging, Hebrew Home of Greater Washington, Rockville, Maryland 20852, USA.



To determine correlates of hoarding behavior in frail elderly persons.


Information about nursing home residents (n = 408) and community-dwelling senior day-care participants (n = 177) was gathered through interviews with family and professional caregivers, medical chart review, and physician examinations, and included the following areas of assessment: hoarding behavior, demographic and health information, level of cognitive functioning, activities of daily living (ADL) performance, depressed affect, social functioning, manifestations of agitated behaviors, and previous stressful life experiences.


We found that 15% of the nursing home residents and 25% of the community-dwelling senior day-care participants manifested hoarding behavior at a rate of several times a week or higher. For nursing home residents, hoarding behavior was significantly related to a larger appetite, taking fewer medications, higher social functioning, comparatively less ADL impairment, and manifestations of physically nonaggressive agitated behaviors. For senior day-care participants, hoarding behavior was significantly associated with being female, a larger appetite, comparatively less gait impairment, fewer medical diagnoses, more involvement in activities, a positive diagnosis of dementia, hallucinations, the delusion of infidelity, and manifestations of three syndromes of agitated behaviors.


While hoarding behavior in our samples presents differently from compulsive hoarding described in the literature, we obtained robust findings that show that despite differences in living conditions, the elderly persons who manifested hoarding behavior were those with relatively fewer health and functional disabilities. In addition, those who exhibited hoarding behavior also manifested agitated behaviors. We suggest that future researchers develop alternative measures of hoarding behavior so as to further clarify the phenomenon of hoarding behavior in the elderly.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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