Lee County’s recently formed Hoarding Task force has been working with local residents who find themselves and their homes overwhelmed by clutter. An estimated 12 to 30 thousand hoarders live in Lee County. In part two of our look at this growing and sometimes dangerous emotional disorder, WGCU’s Valarie Edwards introduces us to Chester, a hoarder who – with support from the task force-- is now on the road to recovery.
The Lee County Hoarding Taskforce held its first public forum on Friday, on the campus of Florida Gulf Coast University.
The consortium of public and private agencies includes regional police and fire departments, animal control agents, therapists and professional organizers.
Hoarding is an inability to part with possessions, irrespective of their value. And despite common misperceptions, many hoarders are well educated.
Although women hoard at significantly higher rates than men, both are likely to have experienced a traumatic event that led to the hoarding. It’s a significant commonality among a host of others, according to taskforce member Dr. Belinda Bruster.
“Another one may be mental illness, such as depression, OCD … which is obsessive compulsive disorder. Those are common features that you might find in a hoarder. But once again, everyone is different,” says Bruster.
Experts believe recovery can be difficult for hoarders who find it hard to bounce back from the trauma.
“Women can sometimes get stuck in that traumatic event and not be able to move forward. Where men have a traumatic event and they’re able to move forward a little bit better,” says Bruster.
Although experts aren’t certain, it’s estimated between twelve and 30,000 hoarders live in Lee County.
More information is available by contacting the Lee County Department of Human Services at (239) 533-7936.