This page contains a Flash digital edition of a book.
askthedoctor Hoarding 101


How You Can Help If a close friend or family member has a problem with hoarding and wants to change, listen and be supportive while slowly trying to help reduce the clutter. Involve the hoarder in all decisions. Older people might need help carrying boxes and other clutter from the home. Professional help also might be needed.


H


Hoarding is fairly common, aff ecting between 2 and 5 percent of the population. Men and women probably are aff ected equally, though study results vary. Severe hoarding is most common in those of later middle age. Elderly people, especially those with some level of dementia, particularly are aff ected. Hoarding seems to have both genetic and environmental components. Hoarding might follow a spousal death or other traumatic event or result from a brain injury. Hoarding can be associated with ADHD and related conditions as well as au- tism spectrum disorders. Hoarders can fi nd it diffi cult to make the decisions involved in discarding; they often are unable to sort things that have use from those that don’t. This is coupled with fear of making a mistake — throwing out something that might have use in the future. Hoarders might be perfectionists; hoarding also might be associated with dif- fi culty starting and completing tasks. Some hoarders save everything in case they need to remember something in an old newspa- per or magazine, while others develop an emotional attachment to hoarded items. Hoarding diff ers from collecting, which


involves the accumulation of items that have some use or value. People enjoy and display collected items. Hoarded items usu- ally are of little value, have no real use, and are things no one else would want — old newspapers, junk mail, empty food con- tainers, etcetera. Clutter accumulates when


Hoarding — accumulating clutter to the point that parts of a home can’t be used as intended — has become a widely recognized problem. By Rear Adm. Joyce Johnson, D.O.


a resident has diffi culty discarding items; throwing things out results in distress. Hoarding interferes with normal living when the kitchen, living room, bathroom, or bedrooms become “storage areas.” Hoarders prefer to hide the situa-


tion from others and discourage visi- tors, including family members. They can become socially isolated. Left alone, hoarders generally aren’t bothered by their hoarding. However, when family members intervene to discard the clutter, confl ict can result. This makes the situa- tion very diffi cult to resolve. Television shows sometimes depict the solution to hoarding as removing the clut- ter from the house. However, this does not address the underlying problem. When family members remove clutter abruptly, it can cause long-term distrust and interper- sonal friction. Many people don’t want to change their hoarding, even when it creates fi re, falling, or sanitation hazards. Behavioral therapy, and in some cases medication, can help. Hoarding often is as- sociated with other psychological problems — OCD, impulsiveness, alcohol dependence, or mood disorders. Addressing these also should be part of a treatment plan. MO


— Rear Adm. Joyce Johnson, USPHS-Ret., D.O., M.A., is vice president, Health Sciences, Battelle Memorial Institute, Arlington, Va. Find more health and wellness resources at www .moaa.org/wellness. For submission information, see page 20.


*online: For additional information and resources, visit www.childrenofhoarders.com. 50 MILITARY OFFICER FEBRUARY 2012


PHOTO: STEVE BARRETT


Page 1  |  Page 2  |  Page 3  |  Page 4  |  Page 5  |  Page 6  |  Page 7  |  Page 8  |  Page 9  |  Page 10  |  Page 11  |  Page 12  |  Page 13  |  Page 14  |  Page 15  |  Page 16  |  Page 17  |  Page 18  |  Page 19  |  Page 20  |  Page 21  |  Page 22  |  Page 23  |  Page 24  |  Page 25  |  Page 26  |  Page 27  |  Page 28  |  Page 29  |  Page 30  |  Page 31  |  Page 32  |  Page 33  |  Page 34  |  Page 35  |  Page 36  |  Page 37  |  Page 38  |  Page 39  |  Page 40  |  Page 41  |  Page 42  |  Page 43  |  Page 44  |  Page 45  |  Page 46  |  Page 47  |  Page 48  |  Page 49  |  Page 50  |  Page 51  |  Page 52  |  Page 53  |  Page 54  |  Page 55  |  Page 56  |  Page 57  |  Page 58  |  Page 59  |  Page 60  |  Page 61  |  Page 62  |  Page 63  |  Page 64  |  Page 65  |  Page 66  |  Page 67  |  Page 68  |  Page 69  |  Page 70  |  Page 71  |  Page 72  |  Page 73  |  Page 74  |  Page 75  |  Page 76  |  Page 77  |  Page 78  |  Page 79  |  Page 80  |  Page 81  |  Page 82  |  Page 83  |  Page 84  |  Page 85  |  Page 86  |  Page 87  |  Page 88  |  Page 89  |  Page 90  |  Page 91  |  Page 92  |  Page 93  |  Page 94  |  Page 95  |  Page 96  |  Page 97  |  Page 98  |  Page 99  |  Page 100  |  Page 101  |  Page 102  |  Page 103  |  Page 104