Picture by Tara R. on Flickr

The Diogenes syndrome is characterized by compulsive hoarding of objects such as books, newspapers, or garbage. It occurs in three major categories of individuals:

  • Elders with degenerative neurological disease
  • Younger individuals with lifelong mental illness
  • Individuals who display habits of hoarding or over collecting

Diogenes Syndrome is considered a variant of the disorder of self-neglect, a condition that most often affects the elderly who live alone. Characteristics of self-neglect include living in squalor, inattention to personal hygiene, and failure to seek and/or to follow medical advice.

Folks with Diogenes Syndrome may have magazines and newspapers stacked to the ceiling in every room in the house or boxes of trash, balls of rubber bands, piles of tin cans, and/or every piece of mail they have received in the last 10 to 20 years.

 

Diogenes syndrome in entertainment

The Collyer brothers' house
The Collyer brothers’ house

One famous story of self-neglect and hoarding is the story of the Collyer brothers, Homer and Langley. In March 1947, police entered their Harlem mansion to investigate reports of a dead body in the home. Indeed, they found Homer Collyer dead from starvation in the midst of decades of compulsive hoarding. The house was filthy and in ill repair. It was rigged with a series of booby traps.

Two weeks after finding Homer’s body and after the removal of more than 130 tons of stuff, the body of Homer’s brother, Langley was found. He apparently had been asphyxiated when one of his own booby traps had crushed him under mountains of debris. This story was made into a play, titled “The Dazzle,” that I saw a number of years ago in New York.

Another play, the Broadway musical “Grey Gardens,” tells the story of an Edie Bouvier Beale and her mother, Edith (first cousin and aunt of Jackie Kennedy Onassis), who were found living in a squalid 28 room mansion among scores of flea-infested cats and raccoons and towers of dirty cans.

Although these stories have been made into plays that entertain and engage audiences, there is really nothing funny about Diogenes Syndrome or self-neglect in the elderly. In fact, these conditions may be the result of untreated medical conditions, such as dementia, psychosis, or depression, and they are often associated with poor outcomes up to and including death.

 

Self-neglect behaviors

A commentary in the September 26, 2007 issue of JAMA points out that self-neglect is the most common cause of reporting to adult protective services in the U.S. The authors, Carmel Dyer, MD and associates, state that “self-neglect, often discounted as a harmless peculiarity of old age, is actually an independent risk factor for early death.”

Self-neglect behaviors include behaviors such as the following:

  • Failure to discard mail, newspapers, magazines
  • Failure to clean the home
  • Lacking electricity and other utilities
  • Piling garbage inside the home
  • Ignoring serious medical issues
  • Neglecting to refill prescriptions
  • Lying in their own excrement

The commentary points out that “until recently, many healthcare professionals did not pay attention to self-neglect by vulnerable elders believing these behaviors are simply a lifestyle choice.” But a prerequisite of making lifestyle choices is the ability to make sound decisions. Many seniors with self-neglect have cognitive impairments that impair judgment and ability to make sound and safe choices about how to live and care for oneself.

The commentary calls for more research into the area—a typical conclusion in any peer-reviewed medical journal. But it also points out that clinicians and others working with elderly need to be aware of the serious health impact of self-neglect. Yes, it is pretty funny to read about someone living with 55 cats or mountains of old newspapers, but the consequences can be deadly. To wit, the Collyers and Bouvier Beale.

27 COMMENTS

  1. my elderly brother is a hoarder (like my father) which is fine, but he is content with having rats run around inside of his townhouse. He has traps that trap them. The other day, he had one on the kitchen table and shot it with his pellet gun. He has a compromised immune system from cancer and I hear that rats can carry disease that would tax a weak immune system. What should I do, since he does not listen to me.

  2. I am at a loss. I recently discovered – though I had an idea- my 21 year old son living in squalor in his room. He lives at home with us and keeps the door locked when he is not home. There has been a bad smell and he has gotten very thin. He let his guard down and left his door unlocked. I was in shock. I tried to start cleaning but after 6 large trash bags and seeing maggots and bugs everywhere I had to step aside and will start again tomorrow. I have informed him he will sleep downstairs. I showered but cannot get the smell out of my nose. I am in utter shock and at a loss of how to deal with this situation.

  3. Never heard of Diogenes syndrome until today, so it’s nice to know there is a term for this. I have had it all my life. When I was a child my room became overwhelmed very easily. My parents are both neat freaks, mom is the most organized person and they always kept a spartan household so I don’t understand why this didn’t imbue in me too. All growing up and everywhere I have lived in my adult life my surroundings are out of control. I don’t have pet waste like some of the people here describe. Since I had a very bad flea infestation several years ago I have since become better than I used to live. I vacuum regularly and use products to kill flea cycles to get a handle before it gets out of control. I used to have many cats, 11 at the highest time. I didn’t bring any more in and over the years, as they died, I didn’t bring in new ones. My last one died 3 years ago and as much as I’d like to save new little lives, I realize that it’s one of my lynch pins. Until I can get control I will not have cats. I do have 2 dogs. I do make an effort to not let things get as bad as they were a few years ago when I had to have family help me declutter and clean (at the point of the flea infestation I mentioned). I don’t have stuff over every floor surface except a trail like I used to, but I do have way more clutter than a normal person would have. As I take stock here I’m looking at my bedroom which has 2 corners of crap that’s a mess. Nothing in the hallway but a 3 shelf case I keep linens towels on. I used to have crap all on the floor there. My living room I have 2 card tables on which I have mounds of clean laundry I never put away because I have no closet space or extra bureau. Also there are various things on those tables like newspapers, junk mail, books, crap I have bought at stores but not used yet. I merely displaced my crap and reduced it. Instead of it being all scattered random on floor it’s on tables. Still not good but better than it used to be. My kitchen I have various little prop tables & 2 microwave carts & 2 etagieres full of stuff unorganized and random. I have to search for various things when I want to cook. I used to have everything organized by type (bowls on this shelf, this in another, that thing on another) but slowly it all has become mixed into a random mess. My counters arw covered in stuff so that I have to clear a spot to prepare something to bake. I dont have garbage or food around like some here have seen or have themselves. I dont allow myself anything that would draw insects. Just my kitchen wastecan holds food waste and that gets tied up & put in trash bin outside. My kitchen table and chairs, I can’t use because they’re piled high with crap too. I want to get a handle on things. I look at an area I want to organize and clear and I get overwhelmed and don’t know where to begin.

  4. My home is filled with dog feces and garbage. I don’t hoard pets, I only have one tiny dog. I think I have a problem but I am afraid to talk about it because I don’t want to lose my dog. I have taken medications for my mental health for years but I don’t understand why I don’t care. is it because I am lazy or getting depressed in a different way than before or what ? I make sure no one comes over. And I also make sure that I shower before going out. Cooking overwhelms me and so do household chores except I do like to laundry. I tried to tell a psychiatrist that cooking and household chores overwhelm me and he said maybe you just don’t like doing them and I laughed out loud and that was that. I don’t think that I have fully recovered from being mental illness. Very strange indeed. I do make attempts to clean.

  5. I’ve read your article and all the comments from other people and man, does it hit home with my father. You see, he’s from the old country in china and he’s 85 yrs old. I guess alot of old people start collecting(?) or hoarding things, a little at a time, especially newspapers and he neglects to take care of himself and his home and feels the squalor that he lives in is the norm. My brother and I try constantly to clean his home and take care of him but, He gets highly upset and angry if we touch anything at all. He neglects his health constantly when simple preventive care could have prevented it in the first place all the time. Is this the norm for all elderly folks? I don’t know. My friend marie is a great friend who has or had an elderly mother who apparently went through the same thing. She told me, don’t do anything, don’t agitate him, let him be. Just look after him, care for him and make sure he dosen’t hurt himself and do what you can for him and make his remaining years of his life comfortble since my mother isn’t around (alive) anymore. Well, I guess maybe she’s right, just do the best I can for him until the end whenever that is.

  6. My daughter is only 16 and she has all these symptoms. She will eat while the dog poops at her feet. I have struggled with her for years and she is quite violent. Can anyone recomend a mental health facility that deals with this issues in east Texas?

  7. For someone who wants to start cleaning and can’t think where to begin just keep in mind one bag of trash a week is 52 bags in a year. Focus on just one bag a week and you will start seeing results as long as you don’t replace what’s gone with more stuff. Even if you believe you love everything you have make one bag of things you don’t love that much. We had a motto in our house, “if you haven’t used it or worn it in a year and a day it can be thrown away”. After the first bag it won’t be as hard to do it again the following week.

  8. I see I’ve arrived to this article late. Looking at the dates on other posts, perhaps two months late!That passed time doesn’t seem to remove the hurt and lost feelings that read between so many of these lines. My heart hurts for the folks who are laboring under the weight of this hoarding problem. I worked in home health care the last 12-15 years of my nursing career. While a good deal of that time I served as an agency administrator, there were plenty of home visits intersperced in my days. We would check on these old parties who had the goat trails in their formerly proud family homes. They were by and large singltons, widowed or long divorced and their adult children were so often just unwilling to become involved in the Mother’s or Dad’s care planning.After reading this I think perhaps those adult children were just plumb worn out from trying to help for so many years. What a sad situation, for the parent and the child.My own 89 year old mother has been a collector for as long as I can remember. She’s never developed the trails. She’s much too organized for that! She’s finally going through many of her things. She’s giving most of it to my older brother and my daughter. When she gets through them I’m pretty sure I’m next in line. Turns out it’s the lady that helps her aound the house every month. LOLI hope when she gets her house de-cluttered she’ll feel more in control. I think that’s a lot of what her hoarding pointed to. She’s in her own home and enjoys her neighbors and is honest to goodness. She really a lucky woman, I’ve decided!

  9. En mi caso ese síndrome ha desembocado en la muerte de una persona muy querida a la que su mujer ha abandonado entre excrementos, con la cadera rota por dos meses o mas y cuando hemos podido entrar en la casa que era una pocilga ya era tarde. Esa persona ten querida murió al mes a pesar de nuestros esfurzos en distintos hospitales. Su asesina vive ahora con todos sus bienes. Aparentemente está normal y coordina perfectamente y la otra persona ha muerto por anemia, desnutrición y abandono total. Diógenes o ensañamiento? No solo se produce con animales como dicen las revistas médicas, también con personas y es un sufrimiento indecible el pensar como ha muerto tu ser querido. Tened cuidado si veis que algo así os puede llegar a pasar yo ni me lo imaginaba y ahora ya es tarde

  10. What has been outlined here in people’s blog posts is a classic textbook picture of my 86 year old father who lives in the SF Bay Area. Being the eldest and caregiver for my mother the last 10 years of her life I am expected to do the dirty work (convincing him to accept help) without any assistance or support. I have contacted no fewer than 15 different agencies not including his primary care physician and the police department all to no avail. I am not sure what the next will be at this point aside from prayer. Blessings to all of you. You have my sympathies.

  11. I believe this syndrome comes from the innermost recesses of a person’s soul, and that’s where the work must begin. Cleaning up the outside, doesn’t change the inside, and the pattern will resurface and continue until the soul-problems are addressed in a most delicate and nurturing way.As appalling as it all seems to everyone, even to the sufferer, you can’t just ‘fix’ it by anything that even compares to ‘brute force’.Extremely low self esteem is at the core, I believe. And stemming from that ultra low self-esteem is a myriad of fears, especially fears surrounding security, whether it be physical security or emotional security.It seems to have a lot to do with feelings of unworthiness.I believe the beginning of healing is when the sufferer acknowledges the depths of unworthiness they feel, and find a sacred place where they can feel comforted and unconditionally loved and accepted.It may take months or years (depending on the severity) of therapy or self-help group involvement to ‘clear the way’ for finding that special place within them, their ‘sacred’ place.This is a very shameful condition where the sufferer is absolutely paralyzed by fear that others will find out just how bad it is.They need consistent support from people who will not add to that shame with remarks and judgments that can shatter their already fragile soul.I believe with support and encouragement from a person, or people, that truly understand their plight in life, they can ‘move that mountain’ with the slightest sliver of faith the size of mustard seed.It has to be a mixture of a willing sufferer and a willing support system to change.In loving compassion,Harmony

    • I feel prone to this but not the extreme one
      I still work part time so have to wash clothes
      My mum died last year. I felt totally to blame as I failed to care for her properly..
      The depression and guilt cause self hate and neglect. No point in cleaning etc
      Only a real wish to recover or something to live for is the answer. Many people develop this who are not guilty but had depression. It is just a way of keeping control when you have lost everything

      • I am so sorry for your loss, and empathize. I fear I have this problem and am in deep depression. I lost my mom in 2013 from a long, and horrific stage IV cancer battle. I suffer with PTSD from this as well as abuse I took from a sibling during mom’s plight. Long story short, as a result of her complications/illness, she looked like a concentration camp victim at the end; it has destroyed me. I constantly blame myself for her death…the what if’s are horrible. She battled with side effects of the last drug/and cancer complications, which caused intractable nausea/vomiting and of course, I blame myself, even though I was told by professionals that “you didn’t kill your mother, cancer did” on a few occasions. I keep blaming myself for her deterioration, but what was I supposed to do? Shove food into her stomach, or make her drink more? The oncologist said that they didn’t do anything until the patient loses 10+ pounds in a month and/or goes below 100 lbs. Well, it happened. Yes, I couldn’t lift or do much physically around her, and she didn’t dare let me, because I have titanium up and down my spine and just can’t. When she got to the point of needing a team of medical professionals, I called for help. Just a few weeks after her monthly Dr. visit, she quickly started to go down hill; the weight was literally melting off of her, couldn’t keep liquids down, delirious, stopped moving, so I called 911. Even for that I feel guilty because she SO wanted to stay at home (also because I didn’t get her to hospital sooner due to shock/denial?), but I KNEW I couldn’t provide what she needed and so she went into hospital and then a home for rehab until the sibling that tormented me came back to help mom, as he had strength and CNA experience. She could come back home then. She deteriorated further and passed away a month and a half later in her bed upstairs. BTW, even he, a physically strong/healthy male, admitted that he couldn’t handle caring for mom, as in it was physically very difficult. I saw him struggle trying to get mom into the front seat, so HOW/WHAT did he expect ME to do for her? I did what I could, with her helping as she wanted to be “independent” as much as possible, for as long as I could. She was just too sick and the cancer had taken over her body. Now I see in hindsight, that what she should have had was in hospice care, with a team of professionals around her day and night. I’m glad she could at least come home to die and have her loved ones around her.
        What happened afterwards killed me completely. This brother that came back to “help” mom, moved himself in without asking; mind you he had been psychologically cruel to me during this whole thing, and I knew it wouldn’t end well. He twists the truth, induced panic attacks in me, kept blaming me for all that was going on with mom (not her terminal cancer), stopped helping with mom because supposedly “I made a decision that I would be the only one to do so”, all lies. He watched with sick pleasure as I did what I could for her, like fearfully escorting her to the shower, knowing that if she collapsed that I couldn’t hold or catch her physically. He literally washed his hands of helping his terminally ill mother and sat back watching me with sick pleasure. He was forced to get his own place due to my having panic attacks and being barely able to function because of his abuse upon me. Then, as I said, at the end he had to come back so mom could come home. He accused me of “saying” that I wanted our mom to die, etc. This attack lasted all day, as he’d take a cigarette break to refuel and come back to pummel me some more. As I said, he moved back under the same roof without my approval after she passed. A month or so after mom left us, I noticed he’d shut down again, as he did many times before, and I knew something bad would happen. I was afraid for my physical safety with him; that’s how bad it was. I said something about washing his clothes for him and that’s when he exploded into a rage, walked over to our mother’s urn and photo, picked them up, shoved them in my face and with utter horror I heard him scream at me, “You did this! You killed mom!” I stood in shock, and started yelling back that he killed her; I felt like I had been stabbed repeatedly. That’s when I yelled for him to get out, and he got this look of realization of what he’d just done, turned around and started gathering what he could to leave the home as soon as possible. I only opened the garage for him so he could gather the rest of his things a few times after that. The home was my parents’ and he’d communicate with my father who lived out of state. My father called me one day and said that he didn’t believe this but had to ask me something. It turns out that the brother told my father that he saw me bringing men over and that I had a man over and he saw it. I couldn’t believe the level of his delusions! Dad knew it wasn’t true, but had to ask me. This was a month or two after my soulmate, my mother, died! I wanted to die with her, and this person was saying that I was bringing guys over and having a party! Not only did it hurt beyond any reason, but I feared him like never before; he’d actually tried to come inside the home a week after my mom’s urn incident, and pounded on the door shouting to let him in, and that he “knew I had a man in there, that he didn’t care, to open the door” etc. I was so scared and shouted that I was calling the police; this made him leave, thank God. See, I know what it’s like to live in hell.
        I’m sorry again for your loss. PLEASE stop blaming yourself. Your mom would want you to take care of yourself, as would mine for myself. I just want you to know that I care and empathize.

  12. I too have been living for the past year with a Diogenes sufferer — my late husband’s sister. The story can be found on my blog about Diogenes Syndrome, http://www.diogeneshelp.blogspot.com. The main problem I have faced in trying to deal with her self-neglect issues (she has had a massive infection in her foot and MRSA several times) is that the social services and medical community here are very indifferent. They’ve basically told me that there’s nothing that can be done to help and that she has to be allowed to fail. And unless the Diogenes sufferer is willing to work with you, cleaning is only a temporary fix for a much bigger problem.

  13. What to Do?You will NEVER fix this if you think of getting everyting done all at once. It is impossible. This didn’t happen to you overnight and it won’t be solved that way either. Can you get someone to come and help you remove trash? Assemble three bags for each room-one for trash, one for items you aren’t sure about and the third for things to donate. Everytime you go into a room throw a few items out and sort other items. Get a telephone head set and do this when you are talking. Start today-a little at a time. You will be shocked how much you accomplish in a week with this system-just make sure you move the full trash bags out of the house the very minute you tie them up. Once you rid yourself of access stuff you will be able to clean and you will find yourself as well.Do you have a kind sibling? I gave my sister several days of my time as a gift and I helped her with tasks that she was dreading. I also made myself available to help load my car with donated items to get them out of her house as fast as possible. Many hands make light work. It took her a year to get back on track, but she did it and it has been quite a transformation.You will do it, too.

  14. I can’t even tell you how much this website has truly affected me and the last blog hit hard. I am now even more concerned for my friend and for you, the one who wrote the last blog. I have gone through depressing stages in my life. The emptiness that is felt. The suffocating feeling and unwillingness to even get any kind of motivation. I can definitely become a pack rat and have gone through points in my life where my house is so unorganized and dirty because there doesn’t seem to be a reason to ‘clean up my act’.However, I don’t know if it’s pure revenge or just a little spark of hope that forces me to get up and pull myself together. Living miserable and missing a guy that wasn’t worth it gives him too much power and I hate giving him more than what I gave him so far. So I always think about how happiness/success is the best revenge. I become the best person I can be to ‘show him’! I don’t know if you (the last person on the blog) will come back and read this. I hope you find that happiness. At least so you no longer give more of yourself to ‘him’ cause he sure does not deserve it!

  15. I am 40. I have this condition. I don’t know how it started. My bedroom used to look like a magazine. People used to ask me where I got my car detailed. It’s so cliche’ it just makes me sadder. I met a guy in 1996. This was after no male contact for 5 years. The day after we were together he said we should be friends. The physical relationship continued. He then told me he was seeing a 17yr old girl down the street from his house. I started to lose weight, I had my vagina tightened. Everybody said I looked great but him. People would tell me I could do better. He was 33yrs old and living with his aunt. He would blow up at me for no reason. He’d tell me I had the perfect mind but the 17yr old had the perfect body. Then the relationship with the teenager ended and it was just us. He didn’t want to get married and he would always say he didn’t make enough money to move out. I tried to help him find a better paying job, etc. Then in 1999 I stopped working out, dressing and bathing. My car was full of newspapers, magazines, and my trunk was a garbage dump. I don’t know how food would get in there. He started to complain and I would just hang my head in shame. He would clean up and beg me to keep it going but it just seemed (seems so hard). I couldn’t have sex with him, well intercourse at least because I wasn’t prepared. I bought a house thinking he would move in and marry me. I told him if he would marry me it would get better. He said he never wants to marry anyone. Well in 2006 the sex (me performing oral for him) basically ended. He would show up infrequently for sex. I would complain bitterly that I wanted a mature relationship without his Aunt knowing our every move. I hated servicing him at her house because he didn’t want to come to my house because of the mess. In way I felt better when the house was a mess because then I didn’t want him to see it. If it was clean it would break my heart that he wasn’t there to see it. In 2008 a week after I serviced him like a living porn star he made a date with another woman on the phone in front of me. He said he didn’t think I would care. He treats the new woman like a queen and says he is happy. That was all I wanted was to be noticed. I cleaned up my act and became the best dressed woman at my company but for some reason, my house is still a disaster. I have mail from 2003 all over. At this moment in 2009 I haven’t been with anyone since. People say I look great (they have no idea about the house or car) but no man will notice me. My daughter has become a bit of a slob now and has given up trying to keep her space clean. I want to kick this habit but after seeing a professional it didn’t help. She (The Dr.) said I fixed the outside but nothing has changed inside. I can only manage to clean one room by dumping stuff in my bedroom. I haven’t slept in my bed since 2007. My carpet has been ruined. I have homeowners insurance but won’t call a contractor to fix my rotted floor. My laundry room has become a giant litter box. My daughter tripped over something in my bedroom and fell. She has a car now so I rarely see her except when she changes clothes. I know its because of the house. I just can’t seem to find a starting place. I guess its because maybe I’ve reached the end.

  16. My friend suffers from Dyogenes Syndrome and has forbade me from using the word ever. She lives in literal shit. After having had gastric surgery, she’s again gained more than 100 lbs.She says her joints hurt her, her arthritis hurts her, her legs her hurt and she medicates herself with tylwnol and codeine. This encourages her to sleep into the afternoon and naturally, her 3 dogs and an elderly cat shit and piss all over her house. She has dismantled her upstairs bathroom thinking she was going to fix it so she has no bathroom upstairs and has to come all the way down the stairs to use the bathroom.In addition to all of this mess, now her bladder is going and in the winter, if she walks a few feet, she pees all over. She can’t even wait to get to the toilet. While she’s taking her shoes off at the door, her bladder completely gives way. Naturally, she smells of urine all the time but she doesn’t smell it. And she collects garbage (broken things, useless things, garage sale trash) all the time to the point where her upstairs has been rendered totally useless.I’ve helped her clean up which is a chore in itself because she collects broken things, things that need painting, things that need assembling, just plain JUNK. Her house smells like a toilet.She says she’s not antisocial but she’s literally not left anywhere for anyone to eat. She’s made a small place for herself to eat and she doesn’t care if her guests can’t sit anywhere.

    • You should try to get her help if you have’nt. Get her to a professtional hoarding & OCD expert so they can help her out:/
      I’m doing a essay/report about this syndrome & i’m just googleing about it because its interesting but very sad. I just scrolled down & saw your comment. thanks for your time though of reading this! Take care.

      • l have a friend suffering from the same disease with the same symptoms. In her case the deaths of very elderly parents who were overprotective ( she was an only and late child) seem to have brought her over the edge. She is terrified of money matters and l am sure does not feed herself properly. this hoarding seems to play the role of a protection no matter how flimsy against the outside world. she lives in France and in a respectable apartment building. This means that if at some point in the future, mice, rats and other creatures threaten the overall cleanliness of the building the authorities will come in and will forcibly clean the premises. How sad! Although some forms of treatment are now available, it requires the permission of the patient, a vicious circle, of course, since the person does not see that she or he is sick…

  17. My friend suffers from Dyogenes Syndrome and has forbade me from using the word ever. She lives in literal shit. After having had gastric surgery, she’s again gained more than 100 lbs.She says her joints hurt her, her arthritis hurts her, her legs her hurt and she medicates herself with tylonel and codeine. This encourages her to sleep into the afternoon and naturally, her 3 dogs and an elderly cat shit and piss all over her house. She has dismantled her upstairs bathroom thinking she was going to fix it so she has no bathroom upstairs and has to come all the way down the stairs to use the bathroom.In addition to all of this mess, now her bladder is going and in the winter, if she walks a few feet, she pees all over. She can’t even wait to get to the toilet. While she’s taking her shoes off at the door, her bladder completely gives way. Naturally, she smells of urine all the time but she doesn’t smell it. And she collects garbage (broken things, useless things, garage sale trash) all the time to the point where her upstairs has been rendered totally useless.I’ve helped her clean up which is a chore in itself because she collects broken things, things that need painting, things that need assembling, just plain JUNK. Her house smells like a toilet.She says she’s not antisocial but she’s literally not left anywhere for anyone to eat. She’s made a small place for herself to eat and she doesn’t care if you can’t sit anywhere.

  18. I have been personally living with an elderly woman with Diogene’s Syndrome for one year now in France. It is extraordinary, very frustrating and there seems to be nothing one can do. She refuses all help including all offers to clean the house. Assistance from health services is out of the question. The house is full of garbage, flies, rats, and it stinks. Luckily I am able to live in a chalet in the garden as it would be obviously impossible for normal people to live in such conditions. I offered to put a flyscreen on the front door recently thinking that it could reduce the number of flies in the house but that offer was rejected too. She does not appear to have any apparent psychological problems, other than a tendency to talk incessantly even when there is no-one listening. It is not normally possible to get a word in edge-wise and i am usually forced to walk away impolitely when I can’t take any more as there is no other option. Of course I offer an excuse or reason why I must go, but I must talk at the same time as her to do this! She perfectly fits all the descriptions of Diogene’s I have read as if they have been written about her.

  19. I agree people need to be more aware of this condition and not pass it off as old people simply wanting to collect lots of things or a mere compulsive disorder. I have seen a few times on TV people who collect newspapers and fill their rooms with it and of course the cliché hundred of starving cats in one house. But how can this self-neglect be stopped?

  20. Self-neglect is something very difficult to notice with most elderly people. For some people, that just adds to a certain charm of the old age. However,over-collecting can be caused by the physical inability of elderly citizens to handle and order their homes.

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