This Fact Sheet is Published through the Courtesy of the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health, Older Adults Services Division.
|Hoarding is the excessive collection and retention of things or animals until they interfere with day-to-day functions such as home, health, family, work and social life. Severe hoarding causes safety and health hazards.|
The behavior of hoarding is seen in various illnesses. Because of that, it has been difficult to place in a diagnostic category. Time and/or age of onset are variable and the behavior differs from person to person.
Frequently, older adults have been found to hoard for the following reasons:
- Items are perceived as valuable
- items provide a source of security
- Fear of forgetting or losing items
- Constant need to collect and keep things
- Obtaining love not found from people
- Fear others will obtain their personal information
- Physical limitations and frailty
- Inability to organize
- Self neglect
- Stressful life events
Therefore, it is recommended that intervention be collaborative involving the older adult, family and other agencies, i.e. mental health, adult protective services, code enforcement, building & safety, animal control and criminal justice.
DO contact the older adult face-to-face
DO use a soft, gentle approach and let the older adult tell his/her story.
DO treat the older adult with respect and dignity.
DO respect the meaning and attachment to possessions by the older adult, which may be as intense as human attachment.
DO remain calm and factual, but caring and supportive.
DO evaluate for safety.
DO refer for medical and mental health evaluation.
DO go slowly and expect gradual changes.
DO reassure the older adult that others will try to help and work with him/her.
DO involve the older adult in seeking solutions.
DO work with other agencies to maximize resources.
DON'T hospitalize unless there is a clear plan for what this is to accomplish.
DON'T force interventions.
DON'T be critical or judgmental about the older adult's environment.
DON'T use the older adult's first name unless he/she gives permission.
DON'T press the older adult for information that appears to make him/her uncomfortable.
DON'T make negative, teasing or sarcastic comments.
DON'T talk about the older adult to others as if he/she is not present.
- Department of Mental Health - ACCESS Center
Information & referral to local mental health system of care, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
- Adult Protective Services
Investigation & crisis intervention for elder and dependent adult abuse including self-neglect, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
- Self-Help and Recovery
Referrals to hoarding and other self help support groups.
May be recorded messages.
- The Obsessive-Compulsive Foundation
offers information and resources about obsessive compulsive disorder and hoarding.
Tobias "Overcoming Compulsive Hoarding" New Harbinger Publication, 2004
A well written and easy to understand book about the causes of Hoarding and treatments for Hoarding.Damecour, L. & Charron, M.
"Hoarding: a Symptom, Not a Syndrome."
Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 1998
Frost, R. & Hartl, T.
"A Cognitive-Behavioral Model of Compulsive Hoarding."
Behavior Research and Therapy, 1996
"Hoarding of Animals: An Under-Recognized Public Health Problem in a Difficult-to-Study Population."
Public Health Reports, 1999
"Hoarding" Eccentricity or Pathology: When to intervene?"
Journal of Gerontological Social Work, 1998