Question: My dad has severe Type 2 diabetes and I find that he is hoarding more and more of lately. Is there a connection between diabetes and hoarding?
Answer: As with many chronic illnesses problems from the disease overflow into other parts of our lives. I have worked with clients who have had severe Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes and because of issues with the illness, organizational problems have occurred. For example, many times a diabetic may become very overwhelmed or too tired to remember where they put their diabetic supplies, paperwork, or even forget to pay bills. If their blood sugar drops too low, they may have “brain fog” and are not able to function well to perform many everyday tasks. They may repurchase more supplies because they can’t find them or forgot that they had them. I have also found medications and used syringes on the kitchen counter and floor. This of course is not only unsanitary, but unsafe if they stepped on it or someone else does.
Here are some ideas to help your dad stay organized and on task with managing his Diabetes:
- Work in short amounts of time with him on organization, so he does not become too drained.
- Ask him how often he needs to check his blood sugar and remind him if he didn’t check it. Your dad might be focused on the organizing and not remember to check his blood sugar.
- He also might need to take snack breaks in addition to checking his blood sugar.
- Organize his kitchen so it works well for him in relation to healthy food and storage of food. Make diabetic friendly snacks easily available to him.
- Designate a spot for diabetic supplies along with room for additional supplies.
- Have a place for used syringes to be stored, so they can be safely disposed of.
- Managing and organizing the “stuff” of diabetes can be a daunting task. From paper management of the disease, ordering supplies, managing doctor’s appointments, blood sugar logs, and nutrition logs.
- A great resource book for organizing the management of Diabetes is The Complete Diabetes Organizer-Your Guide to a Less Stressful and a More Manageable Diabetes Life by Leslie Josel, a professional organizer, and colleague of mine.
Diabetes is a chronic disease that needs to be managed for your dad to keep on task so he does not become too overwhelmed. You can help your dad understand that Diabetes encompasses a large amount of his time and energy and he needs help in the organizing and management of the disease.