3. They put every scrap of paper in their purse or pocket.
Paper hoarders are just that: People who keep every piece of paper that they get their hands on, no matter how worthless.
A reader told us about entering her Dad’s apartment when it came time to move him and discovering that he was a paper hoarder, something she had never even remotely suspected. His apartment was wall-to-wall stacks of old newspapers, magazines and piles and piles of those real estate flyers that agents put outside a house they’ve listed for sale. He would walk around the neighborhood and clean out the flyer boxes of their contents. He wasn’t in the market to buy a home and had absolutely no use for the paper flyers, but still he had stacks of them and had been doing this every day for years.
Watch what your older parent does with receipts, movie ticket stubs, even old cereal boxes. When you travel, do they come home with a suitcase full of every bit of printed literature and brochures from the place they visited?
4. They can’t part with anything — ever.
When you mention that you are dropping off old clothes to the charity thrift store and ask your Mom if she has anything she wants you to take over for her, she never does. Hoarders struggle when it comes to discarding or parting with their possessions, regardless of their actual value.
The difference between hoarders and those who just live with clutter is the degree and quantity of their collected items, notes the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. Commonly hoarded items are newspapers, magazines, paper and plastic bags, cardboard boxes, photographs, household supplies, food, and clothing.
Hoarding is not the same as collecting. While collectors are proud of their possessions and are happy to display and talk about them, hoarders tend to be embarrassed and don’t want others to see how they are living — often with so much clutter that it interferes with their living space and yet they can’t stop acquiring things.
5. They get angry or anxious at even just the suggestion that they throw something away.
People hoard because they believe that an item will be useful or valuable in the future. Or they feel it has sentimental value, is unique and irreplaceable, or too big a bargain to throw away, notes the ADAA. In the case of older people, they also may empower an object to be a reminder that helps jog their memory. Without it, they fear they won’t remember an important person or occasion.