Help for hoarders, and those who care for them

Here’s my latest article on McKnight’s Long-Term Care News:


Help for hoarders, and those who care for them

It can be challenging for long-term care providers when residents amass large quantities of possessions. Facilities generally worry about hoarding when the amount of belongings prohibits the resident or staff members from safely moving about their room or apartment.

Other concerns include fire safety and the possibility of attracting vermin in spaces that are unable to be properly cleaned, as well as apprehension that a cluttered room will attract negative attention from state surveyors.

On the other hand, cleaning out a room against the will of a resident could be perceived as a violation of their right to “security of possessions.”

Facilities often feel stuck between the proverbial rock and a hard place.

Firsthand observations

Over the years, I’ve observed many different scenarios that arise when facility try to manage residents’ hoarding. Here’s a small sample:

• “The State is going to be here any minute,” the Director of Social Work told me, her voice rising a couple of octaves with panic, “We need you to tell Mrs. White that she’s got to get rid of all that junk.”

• Hoarder Number One, complaining bitterly about Hoarder Number Two: “Why are they telling me I need to throw away my things when she has even more stuff than I do? Her room is a mess! At least mine is organized. They just don’t bother her because she’s friends with the administrator.” (All accurate perceptions.)

• Comment from the maintenance guys to the hoarding resident after showing up at the door with cardboard boxes and a dolly: “We’re going to pack up your room for a few weeks until after the State visits, then we’ll bring it back.”

• Sitting with Ms. Rosario following an unannounced purge of her room while she was at dialysis: “How could they do this to me? I trusted them! That stuff was really important to me,” she said, referring to, among other things, an assortment of straws and every food tray slip she’d gotten since her arrival at the facility over a year ago.

What is hoarding?

For the entire article, visit:

Help for hoarders, and those who care for them


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