How to Deal With Compulsive Hoarding
Compulsive hoarding can be difficult to admit or even talk about, and people in the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community are not exempt.
The Community’s Prevention and Intervention Services and Housing Services, both subdivisions of the Department of Health and Human Services, offer a hoarding workshop a few times a year.
The most recent workshop, held in January, attracted four Community members, said Lori Calderon, Community Outreach supervisor. Four people might seem like a low number, but it was a win for Calderon’s team.
“It’s kind of a hard subject for people to talk abotut,” she said. “I’m happy to say we had four attend.”
Symptoms of Compulsive Hoarding
- Holding on to things that have little or no value.
- Areas of the home (bathroom, kitchen, bedroom) are so filled with items that they cannot be used for their intended purpose.
- Someone spends money he or she doesn’t have on purchasing more items.
- The person exhibits significant distress or impairment.
Hoarding is defined as compulsively accumulating items and not getting rid of things that are no longer useful. Common items that are hoarded include clothing, newspapers, bags and containers, and mail. This causes living spaces to become cluttered and dangerous. The dangers of hoarding include falls, potential illness or injury, or being trapped by shifting or falling piles of items. Hoarding also poses a fire hazard and makes it more difficult for emergency services to reach you in case of a medical emergency.
Hoarding is often the result of a mental disturbance that has not been effectively dealt with, such as a death in the family, job loss, divorce or other major life change. It is more common in older adults, but the behavior can begin in youth ages 11 to 15, according to Calderon. Hoarding also can relate to how someone processes information and makes decisions.
Strategies for Treating a Hoarding Disorder
- Seek out counseling to deal with the mental health issue.
- Challenge the hoarder’s thoughts and beliefs about the need to keep items and about collecting new things.
- Visit stores or thrift shops without buying or picking up new items.
- Sort and reduce clutter with the help of a clinician or coach.
- Have a plan to prevent future clutter.
If you would like to learn more about hoarding and how it can be treated, the Community offers support services and treating strategies.
Hoarding Resources and Community Support Services
DHHS Behavioral Health Division, (480) 362-5700
Central Intake Center, (480) 362-7350
Salt River Fire Department Fire Prevention, (480) 362-7290