While it is not always known exactly what makes seniors begin to hoard, there are some disorders that contribute to the disease.
1. Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) Experts believe that the most common cause of hoarding is OCD. Approximately 3% of the general population has OCD. However, most of these individuals are not hoarders. Individuals may exhibit mild, moderate or significant symptoms with this disorder.
There are four subtypes of OCD:
• Pure obsessions
• Contamination and checking
Hoarders engage in saving/collecting behavior in order to combat obsessive doubts and anxiety-provoking thoughts. Most hoarders experience intense anxiety or distress when attempting to discard what others may view as useless objects.
2. Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) Adult ADHD—the inability to focus or control impulses—often contributes to hoarding. Like OCD, many people who hoard have ADHD, but most individuals with ADHD are not hoarders.
3. Psychosis Individuals with paranoid schizophrenia and bipolar disorder are often hoarders. However, most hoarders do not have schizophrenia or bipolar disorder.
4. Dementia Approximately 20% of people with dementia exhibit some degree of hoarding behavior. Hoarding is common in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease, as individuals attempt to keep things in sight for fear of forgetting where they are. As the disease progresses, hoarding behavior may increase as individuals seek to gather together familiar objects. Most hoarders do not have dementia.