Humans have the ability to bestow meaning onto material objects. For most of us, our entire home is filled with sentimental objects and the process of down scaling when moving into a care home, can be very stressful and traumatic.  

Senile squalor syndrome also known as Diogenes syndrome, however, is a form of cognitive impairment characterized by extreme self-neglect, domestic squalor, social withdrawal, apathy and compulsive hoarding of garbage or animals.  People living with this disorder normally refuse help and do not acknowledge that there is a problem. Little is known about the underlying causes, except that it appears to be a reaction to stress and it usually occurs late in life. Seniors who live in homes filled with clutter may suffer from health problems stemming from an inability to keep track of medications, maintain personal hygiene or move safely about the home.


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ETC (eldertransitioncare) has a unique approach to assist a person living with senile squalor syndrome moving to a new home: 

The ETC approach

We start by working with the hoarder to develop a plan for how to deal with the each type of item, usually deciding how to sort them into categories, which may themselves have sub-categories:

  • Gifts to friends and relatives
  • Donations to charity (or charities)
  • Items to take to the new home
  • Debris

We bring in a crew, but not a large one.  The client should not feel overwhelmed by the activity in the home.  We start with a single room, usually a bedroom.  Getting started is the most difficult part and so we normally begin with the easiest type of item: clothing.  We find that most people can give up at least some of their clothing without much difficulty, and doing so breaks the ice.

Once we have an item categorized, we place it in a bag or box with the destination identified.  We try to avoid removing anything from those bags or boxes once they have been placed there.  At the end of each day, we remove the bags and boxes from the premises so that the client is not tempted to rethink the designations during the night.

Click on the link to see their full approach:




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