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Hoarding Disorder

There is little doubt that “Hoarding Disorder” can be a painful, complex, confronting and challenging issue.  The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSMV) recognised Hoarding Disorder as a mental health condition in 2013.

As we age, hoarding situations or hoarding tendencies can increase or develop due to cognitive and physical challenges/decline.  It can be difficult to understand, stressful for all concerned and may involve co-conditions such as depression or anxiety.   It can take its toll on families and friends, and sadly can damage relationships and in some cases may lead to social isolation.  

If you are concerned about yourself, family or friends with Hoarding Disorder, you should consider seeking the help of specialists.  Depending on your situation, whether you need help to explore how you think about stuff and why you keep it and, secondly, whether you need hands on help to deal with the stuff.  The key is understanding, finding the right support and identifying ways to move forward to manage the situation as effectively as possible.  

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.”

Many people with Hoarding Disorder have a co-condition such as depression, ADHD, anxiety, OCD…

It seems also that life changes from loss/grief can be a significant element.  As we age, cognitive decline and physical inability may lead to hoarding behaviours (however, there is limited research on hoarding and aging to date).

For those with life long hoarding or collecting behaviours, current research indicates the value of regular therapy (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) to encourage new thinking patterns along with working with a support team (either/or family/friends and professionals). 

Decluttering and letting stuff go 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.

A forced clean out may achieve short term results but there will be 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, particularly without the proper authority.

allsorters specialises in working with senior adults in their third age (60+), including those with “collecting tendencies” who are challenged by having too much stuff.  

  • We often hears from families who are distressed about their loved one’s situation.  It is essential that the person with too much stuff 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 for clients and to find ways to help them manage. 
  • If your loved one is not 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 achieve this and then help them take action..

There is no doubt that hoarding behaviours can have complex reasons.  Be assured that there is help available.  The key is to change how we think about our stuff and why we keep it.

If you need help, please contact Mary to discuss your situation

Check out our other tips & FAQ

allsorters – downsizing & decluttering specialists


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