|By Campbell North, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette|
|McClatchy-Tribune Information Services|
"We are starting to implement some of it at this point and hopefully get people educated that hoarding is a mental illness," said
There are about 18,950 cases of hoarding in
She said a goal of the task force is to better determine the level of hoarding in the county. Due to the clandestine nature of the disorder, most cases go unreported but it is estimated to affect 2 percent to 5 percent of the population.
"With hoarding, there hasn't been an increase in cases but an increase in awareness," Ms. Kohler said.
Hoarding was not considered its own condition until
"The frustration among the task force is that there needs to be funding. This is not a disorder people have a lot of compassion for; the outpouring isn't there," said
Hoarding disorder involves a persistent difficulty discarding or parting with possessions because of a perceived need to save them, according to the
"Not all clutter is hoarding," said
The accumulation of hoarded items can impede public safety response or create a fire risk.
"People who hoard don't see trash; they see treasure and attach very special meaning to objects," Dr. Hudak said. Children can be hoarders but often do not have control of their own environments, so it does not manifest as severely as in older adults.
"A lot of people use items as tangible memories. They feel like if they get rid of that item they will be getting rid of that memory," Ms. Kohler added.
Although she does not believe there has been a rise in the number of local cases,
Ms. Maher agreed. "People reach their 50s and 60s and the mass has accumulated and then gets out of hand," she said. "I knew a wonderful, educated woman whose husband passed and she lost her home to hoarding. Now she is left with nothing."
Raising awareness is the key, said Ms. Underwood. "We need the support and education to help people understand that this is a mental disorder, not laziness. These people should not be treated in a disgusted or unkind way."
She asked anyone concerned about themselves or another to call the resolve crisis hotline 888-796-8226.
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