Hoarding is one of the most difficult situations to handle as a case manager. Hoarding is basically the excessive accumulation of items in the home. This behavior significantly impacts the quality of life and can cause a number of health and safety concerns. In many cases, the situation is completely out of control by the time the case manager gets involved. In these situations, the case manager’s primary goal is to insure the health and safety of the client. Hoarding can lead to some serious health and safety hazards. An excessive amount of items piled in a home is a fire hazard and could prevent escape in an emergency situation. Hoarder houses are often in a less than sanitary condition. An unsanitary environment can lead to illness or exacerbate existing health problems. Hoarding is often linked with other mental health issues and just asking them to clean it up won’t solve the problem. People hoard for a number of reasons. Traumatic events, mental health disorders, and genetics are being studied as possible causes of Hoarding Disorder.
In my experience with hoarding as a case manager, there seems to be an association with a mental health disorder as well as traumatic events that led to the hoarding behavior. It’s difficult to understand why anyone would want to live in such clutter and filth. The things we consider junk is seen as prize possessions and it’s extremely difficult to get them to part with these items. Even if the home is cleaned, it is often right back into a hoarder state within months.