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Home Care: The Dangers of Senior Hoarding

hoardingHomer Lusk Collyer and Langley Collyer were two American brothers who became famous because of their compulsive hoarding. Two wealthy men were trapped by the mental illness and the inherited money that allowed them to lead a bizarre and filthy lifestyle.(1) Fifth Avenue, Manhattan residents became victims of their own actions. On March 30th 1947 Homer was found dead in his apartment, the cause of death was dehydration and malnutrition. There was no sign of his brother Langley. He was found on April 8th buried under the pile of newspapers, the body was found just 10 feet from his dead brother, Homer. He had been crawling through the piles of books and newspapers to bring food to his paralyzed and blind brother, and he was caught into his own trap and was crashed by the piles of garbage. (2) Over their lifetime they accumulated over 130 tons of waste.

This was the first widely known case of extreme hoarding. There is still no consistent definition of hoarding. According to the Anxiety Disorders Association of America, hoarding is “the compulsive purchasing, acquiring, searching, and saving of items that have little or no value. The behavior usually has deleterious effects—emotional, physical, social, financial, and even legal—for a hoarder and family members.”

The public was widely exposed to the problem of hoarding during the shows: Hoarders on A&E and Hoarding: Buried Alive on TLC. These reality shows illustrated people with severe hoarding problems. TLC’s Hoarding: Buried Alive, focused more on the psychological side of the problem. Over 10 million people in the US are diagnosed with different stages of hoarding.(3) The majority of hoarders are single or divorced females ages 50 to 85. Most hoarders have a family history of hoarding, but it usually escalates during adulthood. Hoarding is the psychological disorder that can’t be resolved by simply cleaning up the space, this would cause more stress and anxiety for the patient. When it comes to dealing with hoarders you have to take it slow and work with them to overcome their psychological issues.

It is hard to say what the best treatment of hoarding is. Health professionals recommend finding a therapist or other mental health provider who has experience in treating hoarding. While therapy can be intense and time-consuming, perhaps taking many months or even years, it can pay off in the long run. Finding a right team of people to work with the patient is the key. Not only will you need a therapist, but you will also require a team of organizers and heavy duty cleaners. It is also necessary to have a professional to check up on the patient after the intervention and make sure that the living space stays free of clutter.

Since most of the people affected by the compulsive hoarding disorder are seniors, it is a great plan to find a home care company that has a special program in place that focuses on people with hording disorders. Usually those companies have a team of professionals that would work with a client on their psychological problems as well as organize, clean and maintain the living space in a proper condition. A company like that can be your one stop shop on the way of resolving your problems.


  1. William Bryk (April 13, 2005). “The Collyer Brothers”. New York Sun. Retrieved 2010-07-19
  2. Hao, Rita (Fall 2007), “boxed in”. Bitch Magazine: Feminist Response to Pop Culture. (37):27
  3. Delap, Ellen www.kingwoodconnection.com Retrieved 2010-07-19

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