Tony is a senior citizen who lives alone in a studio apartment. Due to his financial status, Tony has been able to obtain rental assistance from LA Family Housing, a nonprofit that is active in the Los Angeles area. LA Family Housing is discussed in greater detail in a moment.
Tony is suffering from depression and some other mental health disorders. It appears that these conditions have fed hoarding behavior or may even be part of actual hoarding disorder. There is a distinction between hoarding behavior and hoarding disorder, which is clarified in the next section of this article.
The hoarding that is occurring in Tony’s small apartment has caused a myriad of problems. One of these is that Tony now faces the prospect of eviction from his studio apartment if it is not properly cleaned up and the hoarding behavior at the premises comes to an end. In fact, governmental officials have been to the apartment and have made it clear that eviction is in the offing if thorough hoarder property cleanup is not completed as soon as possible.
Building a Team to Assist Tony in Dealing With Hoarding in His Apartment
As is discussed elsewhere in this article, a team of professionals is being created to assist Tony in developing a comprehensive plan of action to address the effects of his hoarding disorder. Team members include a mental health professional who has been working with Tony for some time.
Dr. Harold Tilton has been working with Tony in regard to depression, hoarding disorder, and other mental health matters. As an extension of this involvement, Dr. Tilton has been assisting in coordinating professional hoarder property cleanup in order to restore Tony’s studio apartment to a livable condition and prevent an eviction of the senior gentleman.
Dr. Tilton is associated with well-regarded Hillview Mental Health Center. Hillview is described as:
Serving more than 2,000 clients, Hillview Mental Health Center empowers individuals affected by mental illness to flourish and live productive, fulfilling lives. Our staff of psychiatrists, nurses, clinicians, recreational therapists and case managers work collaboratively to provide individually tailored services for our clients. These services can include medication evaluation and treatment, individual or group therapy, case management, substance abuse treatment and crisis management.
We understand that our clients have practical needs that affect their ability to recover and thrive. We work closely with government and nonprofit agencies to help our clients obtain housing, transportation, schooling, employment and other supportive services. Hillview Village, our permanent housing complex, provides a welcoming home to 85 low income, chronically homeless clients.
Eco Bear, an industry leader in biohazard remediation – including hoarder property cleanup – is also a part of the team. The firm has special expertise in working with people with hoarding disorder, their families, and other professionals.
Hoarding Behavior and Hoarding Disorder Defined
Hoarding behavior is a situation generally characterized by the excessive acquisition and retention of objects, regardless of their actual value or use. Individuals with hoarding behavior may find it difficult to discard items, leading to cluttered living spaces and potential health and safety hazards. This behavior can interfere with daily functioning and relationships and may require professional intervention to address. It is important to note that if hoarding behavior has not reached the level of a mental health condition as discussed in a moment, it is possible for a person engaging in this type of conduct to have a better chance of getting beyond it.
Hoarding disorder is a mental health condition that involves persistent difficulty discarding or parting with possessions due to a perceived need to save them. This can lead to the accumulation of clutter to the point where parts of the living spaces become unusable. Individuals with hoarding disorder often experience significant distress and major impairment in daily functioning as a result of their symptoms. In nearly all cases, a person diagnosed with hoarding disorder (the mental health condition) needs to obtain assistance from a mental health professional with a background in dealing with this type of disorder.
Elderly Resident Provided Housing Support Funding From LA Family Housing
Tony, the elderly individual who has engaged in significant hoarding behavior and may suffer from hoarding disorder, has been receiving rental assistance from LA Family Housing. An effort is being made to seek funding to accomplish professional hoarder property cleanup at Tony’s apartment in order to stave off an eviction.
LA Family Housing does a wide range of programs and services to help homeless individuals and families transition from living on the streets to stable housing. This includes people like Tony who has been and is again at risk of being unhoused. These programs and services are tailored to meet the unique needs of each person and family.
Examples of programming from LA Family Housing includes:
- Emergency shelter
- Rapid re-housing
- Permanent supportive housing
LA Family Housing provides emergency shelter to homeless individuals and families who need immediate assistance. The organization’s emergency shelter is staffed 24/7 and provides a safe and supportive environment for those in need. The emergency shelter program is designed to provide temporary housing and support services to help individuals and families get back on their feet.
LA Family Housing’s Rapid Re-housing program helps homeless individuals and families secure stable housing as quickly as possible. The organization provides financial assistance for rent and utilities, as well as case management and support services to help individuals and families maintain their housing. Rapid re-housing is a critical component of LA Family Housing’s programs and services, as it helps homeless individuals and families move into stable housing quickly.
Permanent Supportive Housing
LA Family Housing’s Permanent Supportive Housing program provides long-term housing and support services to individuals and families who have experienced chronic homelessness. The organization’s supportive housing units are designed to be affordable and sustainable, with on-site supportive services to help residents maintain their housing. This program is designed to help individuals and families who have experienced chronic homelessness achieve stability and become self-sufficient. The hope is that Tony will be able to obtain supplemental financial assistance through the permanent supportive housing to deal with hoarder property cleanup services. This type of assistance will aid in maintaining a state of housing stability for Tony.
Comprehensive Approach to Addressing Elderly Man’s Hoarding Disorder
Hoarder property cleanup is only one aspect of addressing and working to resolve Tony’s hoarding disorder. According to Dr. Tilton, a consideration for mental health supportive services that may benefit Tony are on the table. Examples of these supportive services that might be utilized in conjunction with hoarder property cleanup include:
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT): CBT is a type of therapy that helps individuals to identify and change negative thoughts and behaviors that contribute to hoarding. It is designed to change the way people think and react to situations, with the goal of improving their quality of life. CBT can help individuals to challenge their beliefs about possessions, develop better decision-making skills, and learn coping strategies for managing anxiety and other negative emotions.
- Exposure and Response Prevention Therapy (ERP): ERP is a type of therapy that involves gradually exposing individuals to the objects they hoard, with the aim of reducing anxiety and their urge to hoard. It also helps individuals to develop more effective coping strategies. ERP can help individuals to learn how to tolerate the discomfort of discarding possessions and to develop a sense of control over their hoarding behaviors.
- Motivational Interviewing: Motivational interviewing is a technique that involves identifying and changing the motivation behind hoarding. It aims to increase an individual’s motivation to change and to participate in treatment. Motivational interviewing can help individuals to explore their ambivalence about change, identify their values and goals, and develop a plan for achieving them.
- Skills Training: Skills training involves teaching individuals strategies and techniques for organizing and decluttering their living space. It can also help individuals to develop better decision-making skills. Skills training can include practical exercises and homework assignments that help individuals to practice new skills and behaviors.
- Medication Management: In some cases, medication can be used to manage symptoms of hoarding disorder, such as anxiety and depression. Medication can be used in conjunction with other treatments, such as therapy and skills training, to help individuals manage their symptoms.
- Support Groups: Support groups can provide individuals with a sense of community and understanding. They can also offer practical advice and emotional support. Support groups can be a safe and non-judgmental space for individuals to discuss their experiences and share their struggles and successes.
- Home Visits: Home visits can be a critical element of treatment for hoarding disorder, as they allow mental health professionals to see the living environment firsthand and provide personalized advice and support. Home visits can help individuals to identify specific challenges and obstacles to decluttering and organizing their living space, and to develop a plan for addressing them.
In over 90 percent of cases when only hoarder property cleanup is undertaken without other supportive services, the person who has been hoarding returns to that conduct and behavior not long after the cleanup is completed. The ultimate objective needs to be coming up with solutions to lower the risk of a relapse to hoarding behavior going forward into the future.
Tony’s Hoarding Disorder Classified as Particularly Challenging
Hoarding behavior resulting in hoarding disorder can take a number of forms. For example, there are people who engage in excessive shopping and end up hoarding unnecessary items in their homes. Although unnecessary, these items at least do have some value.
In Tony’s case, the senior citizen is engaged in behavior that oftentimes is called “dumpster diving.” In other words, Tony literally is taking garbage out of trash bins and bringing it to his apartment.
Tony’s hoarding of garbage has become so excessive and extensive that his apartment currently is of little practical use. In fact, the only way to navigate in the apartment is through the use of what fairly can be called a “goat trail.” A goat trail in a hoarding context is a path in a residence that is so narrow that a person barely can pass through it. A goat trail created by hoarded garbage can be dangerous in and of itself. There are instances in which hoarded trash is stacked so high on each side of a goat trail that the risk of collapse exists, a state of affairs that risks a hoarder’s life.
Risks Associated With the Hoarding of Garbage
There are a number of risks commonly associated with situations in which a person diagnosed with hoarding disorder hoards garbage. The grim reality is that all of these risks appear to be arising from Tony’s particular situation, including possible legal problems in the form of eviction. These more commonplace risks are discussed here for information purposes and to put the seriousness of Tony’s situation in perspective.
- Fire hazards: Accumulated garbage and clutter can increase the risk of fire, especially if flammable materials are present. Clutter and garbage can block exits and prevent access to fire-fighting equipment, which can further increase the hazards of fire. In addition, the presence of flammable materials in the hoard can make it more difficult to control a fire.
- Structural damage: Hoarding can lead to the degradation of the structural integrity of a building, which can in turn lead to dangerous conditions for the hoarder and others. The weight of the accumulated garbage can cause damage to floors and walls, leading to weakened structures that are prone to collapse. This can be especially dangerous in multi-story buildings where the damage can spread to other floors.
- Health hazards: Garbage accumulation can create unsanitary conditions, which can lead to the spread of disease and illness. The accumulation of debris can produce mold and bacteria that can cause respiratory problems and other health issues. In addition, the presence of pests attracted to the garbage can further increase the risk of disease transmission.
- Vermin infestations: Pests and vermin are attracted to garbage, which can lead to infestations of rodents, insects, and other creatures. These infestations can be difficult to control and can spread to neighboring properties, leading to further health hazards.
- Increased risk of falls: Hoarding can make it difficult to navigate a living space, increasing the risk of falls and other accidents. The presence of clutter and debris can make it difficult to move around, especially for elderly individuals or those with mobility issues.
- Social isolation: Hoarding can lead to social isolation and withdrawal from society, which can exacerbate mental health issues and make it more difficult to seek help. Individuals who hoard may feel ashamed or embarrassed about their living conditions, which can lead to a reluctance to interact with others.
- Legal issues: Hoarding can lead to legal issues, such as violations of housing codes or zoning laws. Additionally, hoarding can lead to eviction or fines from landlords or other authorities. In some cases, hoarding can be considered a public nuisance, which can result in legal action taken against the hoarder.
Rapid Response to Hoarder Property Cleanup
In conclusion, due to the risk of an eviction, a rapid response to hoarder property cleanup really is a necessity in Tony’s case. The team referenced earlier in this article is committed to working together to successfully undertake hoarder property cleanup in a manner that permits Tony the ability to maintain his home.