There is little doubt that “Hoarding Disorder” is a complex, confronting, challenging and growing issue. The DSMV (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) recognised Hoarding Disorder as a mental health condition in 2013.
Hoarding Disorder can be difficult to comprehend, stressful and painful for those affected and often involves co-conditions such as depression or anxiety. It can take a toll on everyone involved, including family and friends, can damage relationships and contribute to social isolation.
In today’s world, the easy availability of “things” has added another layer of complexity.
As we age, hoarding situations, hoarding tendencies or collecting behaviours can develop or increase due to cognitive and/or physical decline often leading to difficulty or an inability to make decisions (and decluttering requires lots of decisions).
Life changes from loss and grief can be another significant element.
Mary of allsorters specialises in working with senior adults in their third age (60+), including those with “hoarding” or “collecting tendencies” who have accumulated too much stuff.
- We often hear from families who are distressed about a loved one’s situation. It is essential that the person is open to assistance. Their situation maybe due to Hoarding Disorder, squalor, a life event or something else. allsorters offer a patient and non-judgmental service. Results can take time, the aim is to find a way forward to help them manage their stuff.
- If your loved one is not yet open to assistance, letting them know there is help when they need it may be the first step.
- If there is a move on the horizon to smaller living, a retirement community or aged care residence, we work with all parties to set out a plan to facilitate the move.
- A forced clean out may achieve short term results but can result in a loss of trust and possible damage to the relationship. It is not recommended. Please consider carefully the consequences before pursuing a forced clean out.
For those with life long hoarding or collecting behaviours, research indicates the value of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) to encourage new thinking patterns along with working with a support team (either/or family/friends/professionals). Thankfully there is more research and understanding of the issue available now but only limited research on hoarding and ageing).
If you are concerned about yourself, family or a friend with Hoarding Disorder, please ensure you find the right support team that is patient, non-judgmental and experienced to help identify ways to move forward to manage the situation as effectively as possible:
- To explore new ways of thinking.
- To provide hands on help to deal with the stuff
Decluttering and letting stuff go of stuff is about making decisions, thus if hoarding behaviours are due to cognitive decline, therapy may not be as effective. As we age, it maybe more about rehabilitation therapy and ongoing support with sorting, organising, tidying up and maintaining a healthy living space.
Many experts define Hoarding as (ref Frost and Hartl, 1996, as cited in Steketee and Frost, 2007):
1. “The acquisition of, and failure to discard, a large number of possessions that appear to be of useless or of limited value.”
2. “Living spaces sufficiently cluttered so as to preclude activities for which those spaces were designed.”
3. “Significant distress or impairment in functioning caused by the hoarding.”There is no doubt that hoarding behaviours can have complex reasons.
If you need help, please contact Mary to discuss your situation
allsorters – downsizing & decluttering specialists