Too Many Treasures

Hoarding can be a serious problem, especially when it damages health.

The Anxiety and Depression Association of America has found myriad health risks associated with this rarely-talked-about issue, such as falls and bad air quality from dust and mildew. Mercy Housing actively supports residents with resources to help battle hoarding, so that our residents can maintain a safe and stable home.

Our partner, Area Agency on Aging of Maricopa County, offers a 15-week support group — Too Many Treasures — designed to affirm, educate, and guide self-identified hoarders. The program is open to people 55 years of age and older.

Glenn Whitaker is a Mercy Housing Resident Services Coordinator at a senior community in Gilbert, Arizona. During a quarterly inspection, he discovered that one resident was a hoarder. She truly wanted to stop, but didn’t know how. The situation was serious — an EMT’s gurney couldn’t enter the apartment in the event of an emergency, and hygiene was a growing concern. Glenn provided the resident with Too Many Treasure’s contact information, and the transformation began. The resident knew she had a problem and was thrilled to enroll. A year has passed since she’s been in the program.

“It was a difficult road and she’s made a lot of progress. It is a slow, arduous process, but the program made a tremendous impact to help her make some necessary changes in her life to tackle the problem. I was just happy to help. Everybody that lives here is great and I want to see them thrive.” — Resident Services Coordinator Glenn Whitaker

The Anxiety and Depression Association of America lists the following behaviors associated with hoarding:
• Inability to throw away possessions
• Severe anxiety when attempting to discard items
• Great difficulty categorizing or organizing possessions
• Indecision about what to keep or where to put things
• Distress, such as feeling overwhelmed or embarrassed by possessions
• Suspicion of other people touching items
• Obsessive thoughts and actions: fear of running out of an item or of needing it in the future; checking the trash for accidentally discarded objects
• Functional impairments, including loss of living space, social isolation, family or marital discord, financial difficulties, health hazards

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