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Compulsive hoarding is when a person collects and keeps an overabundance of items, which may often appear useless or of little value to most people. These items clutter the living spaces of the home and prevent the person from using their rooms as they were intended. Most often, people hoard common possessions, such as paper (e.g. mail, newspapers), books, clothing, and containers (e.g. boxes, paper and plastic bags). Others may accumulate multiples of the same items (appliances). Some people hoard garbage or rotten food. More rarely, people hoard animals or human waste products.
Most people who hoard have been struggling with this problem all of their adult lives. Typically, compulsive hoarding begins with some clutter and difficulty discarding, but then progresses over time until it becomes unmanageable and overwhelming. Most people who hoard are older adults, with an average age of 50, although hoarding behaviors can begin as early as the teenage years. Persons who hoard tend to live alone and often have a family member with the problem. About 2 to 5% of the population have a serious hoarding problem.
Treatment options include harm reduction and/or cognitive-behavior therapy or other support services. Whatever treatment one chooses to use, it is important to realize that clutter is the result of hoarding behavior. Therefore, clearing out the home of the person who hoards does not solve the underlying problematic hoarding and cluttering behavior.
Town of Bedford10 Mudge WayBedford, MA 01730
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