Hoarding is a complex issue that affects people across age,
socioeconomic, and racial lines. It is not only an issue that affects the
individual, but also the family and community.
Many people who hoard choose not to seek treatment and only
come to the attention of public agencies when they are considered older adults
(60 and older in Massachusetts). The person who hoards is not seeking
treatment, but rather has been discovered by a mandated reporter or neighbor
often due to a fall, an incident such as a fire or odors emanating from their
home. Once “discovered” the very private issue that they have fought so hard to
hide quickly becomes public. The individual is thrown into a swirl of decisions
and a multitude of people approaching them. This can lead to anxiety,
frustration and fear causing many people who hoard to shut down and refuse
help. Unfortunately this reaction often leads to more involvement from
protective services, city officials and eventually the courts.