Lesson #1: Hoarding as a Sign of Dementia

hoarding-ketchup-packets

It started around the time my mother died, in 2004 or 2005. My elderly father began eating out more–Boston Market, Wendy’s, McDonald’s, Chinese food–and he’d bring home the condiments packets and store them in a drawer in the kitchen.

Ketchup packets. Mustard packets. Soy sauce. Duck sauce.

Soon they filled several drawers. I’d find them crammed in the fridge, in the cutlery drawer.

It became a joke with me and my husband when we’d come over to see my father — the neverending packets. We’d go to get a drink from the fridge, and they’d spill out of the top cubby where you’re supposed to keep eggs.

“Hey, Dad,” I joked, “Don’t you think you have enough ketchup packets?”

“Oh, Barb, there’s no sense throwing out good food,” he’d say, peevishly.

This went on for years. I just thought it was a product of his being a child of the Great Depression.

It must have in 2008 or so when I noticed that he wasn’t just hoarding ketchups. Continue Reading

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