Sadly, statistics show that “hoarding” is a growing issue. Simplistically, having too much stuff or collecting behaviours are of concern when it affects one’s ability to live in a safe domestic environment. The DSMV (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) recognised hoarding as a mental health condition in 2013.
For those affected by hoarding, it is a challenging and complex issue in today’s world of high consumption where many have strong emotional connections to their possessions. “Hoarding Disorder” can be difficult to comprehend for those unfamiliar with it. It often involves co-conditions such as depression or anxiety. It can take a huge personal toll on everyone involved, including family and friends, can damage relationships and contribute to social isolation.
In today’s consumer world where there is so much for us to buy, this easy access to “things” has added another layer of complexity for those who are more emotionally connected to stuff and are challenged with collecting behaviours and keeping too much stuff.
As we age, hoarding situations, hoarding tendencies or collecting behaviours can often increase or develop due to cognitive &/or physical decline leading to difficulty or an inability to make decisions. In some cases, people who once were very organised, can become untidy and disorganised. Life changes from loss and grief can add another emotional layer to collecting or hoarding behaviours.
allsorter Mary specialises in working with senior adults in their third age (60+), including those with “hoarding” or “collecting tendencies” –
- 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. Results can take time, the aim is to find a way forward to help them manage their stuff. allsorters offer a patient and non-judgmental service.
- 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, possibly 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 or a loved one, please ensure you find the right support team who are 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