A growing problem
Candace, 76, lives alone in the house she designed 50 years ago. Gradually, enthusiastically, and sometimes uncontrollably, she accumulated bargains discovered at thrift stores. They were mostly inexpensive clothes too good to pass up, and presents she thought would be perfect for people in her life.
But she seldom got around to cutting the tags off, or giving away the items. The ritual of acquiring and stockpiling took on a life of its own. That was until her home became impossible to navigate, her oven turned into a storage place, and her kitchen became unusable. The whole area was beset by growing stacks of junk mail, clothes, and saved food.
Hoarders struggle to let go
There are no statistics or estimates of how many senior Americans currently struggle with hoarding. However, the numbers are expected to rise as more aging baby boomers live at home in their advanced years.
Hoarders don’t just accumulate items that others deem worthless, worn-out, or useless. “We have cases where homes are filled with brand new clothes with the tags still on them” and unopened boxes of small appliances,” said Randy Frost, a nationally recognized expert on hoarding said in a 2014 interview on sparefoot.com.
Frost, co-author of “Stuff: Compulsive Hoarding and the Meaning of Things” and the “Buried in Treasures” workbook, said hoarders aren’t able to let go of anything; compulsive buying and acquiring compounds the problem for roughly 85-90 percent. That includes obsessively acquiring free things. They may do things such as dumpster-diving, scouring the town dump, or compulsively driving around on trash day to pick through things neighbors have put out.
To find out more about this story, and Candace’s recovery, click here.
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