Friends and family of a hoarder often ask us when we are cleaning out a hoarding house “how can they live like that?”. Hoarding disorder is just like any other mental disorder that we may not understand. The difference is that hoarding has been neglected in studies and little awareness has been raised on it.
“Hoarding disorder (HD) can be defined as a persistent difficulty with discarding items due to distress associated with discarding or a perceived need to save items regardless of their actual value”. HD in the elderly population is often difficult to understand because it does not receive attention until late life, and is still, very neglected in this population. Often time, HD has co-morbid mental conditions such as: severe depression, anxiety, PTSD, substance abuse, or personality disorders. Studies have found that many people with HD have also had a history of trauma or mistreatment. HD has shown to increase with severity overtime.
HD affects the elderly population by presenting a number of safety issues. People with HD are now at risks for falls, fires, impaired functional ability, food contamination, and medication mismanagement. They also can be exposed to dust, mold, insect/rodent infestation which also contribute to health risks.
At Bio-One Manchester Hoarding, we always maintain a respectful and compassionate approach when remediating a house that belongs to someone who hoards. We understand the process is difficult and often overwhelming for the hoarder. Our goal is to make the experience as easy as possible for the hoarder while reinforcing the positive change they are making in their life.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S1041610216002465 (Roane, D. M., Landers, A., Sherratt, J., & Wilson, G. S. (2017). Hoarding in the elderly: A critical review of the recent literature. International Psychogeriatrics, 29(7), 1077-1084)