How does the Cape Cod Hoarding Task Force work to help people with hoarding disorder?

The task force is an all volunteer group comprised of health agents, first responders, medical and mental health professionals, social service providers, attorneys and private business owners committed to working together to resolve complicated cases in a compassionate and professional manner. The group meets bi-monthly for case consultation and educational presentations on topics relating to hoarding disorder. Also, the Cape Cod Hoarding Task Force organizes semi-annual training for community members and professionals, develops relationships with like-minded task forces around the state, works with various media outlets to raise awareness about hoarding in the community, coordinates local agencies to implement joint service plans, helps many local families.

Why do people collect?

Hoarding disorder is a complex, psychiatric condition comprised of three related problems; collecting too many items, difficulty getting rid of items and trouble with organization. As a result, people accumulate a significant amount of clutter.

When does hoarding/clutter become a problem?

Hoarding and clutter becomes a problem when it prevents people from being able to use their living spaces as intended, creates health or safety risks, and/or causes distress of impairment in their day to day living. An avid collector may acquire things but generally will not experience negative consequences as a result of their hobby.

Why can’t we just get rid of the hoard?

Simply getting rid of clutter, or clean-outs, can be extremely traumatic for someone with hoarding disorder. Cleanups may remove the items temporarily and work in the short term. However, this approach does not address the beliefs that contribute to the hoarding behavior and it’s likely that accumulation will occur again.

Why is hoarding a concern?

Hoarded homes are at a greater risk for fire, mold or mildew. People living in hoarded homes often have respiratory problems, poor self-care and nutrition. Additional concerns may include homelessness due to eviction, social isolation, legal problems due to lost or unpaid bills and large credit card debt due to compulsive buying.

How long does it take to resolve a hoarding case?

No two hoarding cases are alike and the time it takes to resolve each case will range. Do not expect to have items cleaned from the home overnight or within a week. Be mindful that resolving a hoarding case can be intensely emotional and stressful for the individual and meet them with sensitive and encouraging language. Provide support by helping to set realistic goals, establishing a safer home environment and assisting with sorting/discarding.