What Is Hoarding Disorder

Hoarding disorder is a mental health disorder in which people accumulate too many possessions regardless of their value or need

The disorder can interfere with an individual’s quality of life in many ways, and can cause strain, shame and conflict in family, social and work relationships. It can also cause an individual to avoid social interactions or visits to their home and lead to their isolation from others.

Hoarded possessions can congest and clutter areas of a home, making the home unsafe and impairing a person’s functioning within the household. If the hoarding is severe, it can greatly limit the most basic and necessary of daily activities such as sleeping, cooking, toileting, cleaning, and movement throughout the home. It can also put the individual and others at risk of fire, falling, poor sanitation, rodent/insect infestation, health code violations, and other concerns.

Hoarded possessions can congest and clutter areas of a home, making the home unsafe and impairing a person’s functioning within the household.

Items in a person’s hoard often include newspapers, magazines, paper products, household goods, and clothing, and often include food that has expired or is partially consumed, and trash.

According to the American Psychiatric Association (APA), Hoarding Disorder affects an estimated 2 to 6 percent of the population and is more common among older adults. In 2013, the APA listed hoarding disorder as a distinct mental disorder. Some researchers think that for some, severe hoarding may be a form of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Other studies indicate that hoarding appears to be more common in people with psychological disorders such as depression, anxiety and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Other factors associated with hoarding disorder include dementia and alcohol dependence.

Hoarding Impact

Project Guardianship has served clients living in unsafe, unsustainable conditions and who have sometimes been at risk of eviction because of their hoarding, which is a challenging situation to address.

We provide an individualized care plan for clients with a hoarding disorder and who are exhibiting at-risk behaviors. Property management and case management teams may join together to coordinate a heavy-duty clean-out and/or an extermination of a client’s home or apartment to provide a safe, healthy living environment, and better quality of life. Sometimes we will enlist the assistance of a geriatric care manager or mental health professional to support a client during a difficult time of transition and the learning of new habits.

Our best practices also rely upon our legal expertise in housing law and landlord/tenant issues, our familiarity with mental health and psychiatric conditions and disorders, mental health supportive housing, and access to New York City programs available to support persons in these types of situations.