Department of Health

Explore why a person is rummaging or hoarding. Ask yourself if they are bored, lacking stimulation or are socially isolated. Then think about how to redirect them.

Rummaging strategies

  • Set up rummaging drawers and boxes in appropriate spots, for example the end of a passage or corner of a lounge room.
  • Provide items that offer tactile stimulation.
  • Offer other productive experiences so people might be drawn into them.

Attractive items that offer tactile stimulation include:

  • magazines and coffee table books people can pick up, look at and carry around small items on tables, shelves or dressing tables that can be picked up and carried around boxes containing materials with different tactile qualities
  • sensory stimulation boards with various latches, knobs and other manipulable items.
  • People need to have control over the items in rummaging drawers and boxes.Do not tidy them away or take them away from a person who is rummaging.

Alternative activities

  • Create a small office area in a public space, for example a corner of the dining room or lounge room, with paper and pens for people to use.
  • Establish a garden shed and introduce people to gardening activities.
  • Ask a person to help set the table at meal times or clear up afterwards.
  • Give a person an indoor or outdoor plant to care for.

Reviewed 22 February 2016


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