Research shows that approximately 17% of American adults age 60 and over misuse alcohol and prescription drugs, but substance use disorders in this population are often undiagnosed and untreated. Symptoms of substance abuse may go unrecognized because they mimic the symptoms of other medical and behavioral disorders, such as diabetes, depression, and dementia. In addition, older adults who are no longer employed, are perhaps socially isolated, and drive less (or not at all), can more easily conceal the signs and symptoms of alcohol or drug dependence, such as cravings, blackouts, physical signs of withdrawal, and neglecting responsibilities.
Sometimes hoarding starts after the person has experienced trauma or a stressful life event, such as divorce or the death of a spouse. It is more common in older adults, and sometimes develops when a person has Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia. Many people who hoard are socially isolated, or become isolated from family members out of shame and embarrassment at the condition of their homes.