Monday, August 30, 2010

Compulsive Hoarding: When it Goes Beyond Clutter

By Joan Delaney

Stacks of old newspapers and clothing piled to the ceiling in every room; chaotic mounds of valuables, junk, rotten food, and even human waste all mixed together; so much stuff packed into the kitchen and bathroom that they can’t be used.

This is how life can become for compulsive hoarders—those who obsessively amass a large amount of items of no apparent worth and are unable to discard any of them, even when everyday living is compromised.

For some hoarders, many of whom are elderly, shame over the state of their home or fear that they’ll be put in a long-term care facility if their living conditions are discovered prevents them from seeking help.

“I’ve found some pretty deplorable conditions that people are living in as the cost of sort of maintaining their independence, because they’re afraid that one thing will lead to another,” says Elaine Birchell, an Ottawa-based hoarding intervention specialist...."

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