Mission Viejo, a community that has adopted the clever motto of “make living your mission,” is the second largest master-planned community build via one project in the United States. Mission Viejo is well-known for its many tree-lined streets. There are about 97,000 residents in the community.
A persistent issue in Mission Viejo involves individuals who suffer from hoarding disorder. Experts in the realm of studying and treating hoarding disorder currently estimate that between 2 and 5 percent of the population, including in Mission Viejo, is clinically classified as having hoarding disorder. With this in mind, there are an array of different services and resources in Mission Viejo available to assist individuals with hoarding disorder, as well as their families and loved ones.
What Is Hoarding?
Hoarding is considered to be an illness akin to obsessive-compulsive disorder. In fact, until fairly recently, hoarding was considered to be a variety of OCD. Ultimately, mental health care researchers and providers determined that hoarding was, in fact, different in some ways from OCD, warranting its unique classification as a disorder.
Hoarding is defined as a disorder in which an individual has significant, even profound, difficulty discarding or parting with possessions as a result of some perceived need to keep them. A person with hoarding disorder experiences distress, sometimes significant or even debilitating distress, at the thought of getting rid of the items.
Hoarding is categorized from mild to severe. A mild case of hoarding may not significantly impact the day to day life of a person laboring under the condition. On the other hand, severe hoarding may significantly impact the day to day life, safety, and welfare of a person afflicted with the disorder.
What Are the Signs of Hoarding?
Although there are some symptom differences between one hoarder and the next, there are some common signs associated with hoarding disorder. These include:
- Excessive acquisition of items that are not needed
- Profound, persistent difficulty disposing of items, even items of no value (including garbage)
- Upset at the thought of parting with items
- Accumulating items to the point that rooms become inhabitable as well as furniture, appliances, and equipment in a residence becomes unusable
In addition, a person suffering from hoarding disorder will demonstrate a number of personality traits that include:
- Problems with planning
- Problems with organizing
Moreover, a person with hoarding disorder will be secretive and ultimately reclusive. They will avoid social interaction, in many cases. This includes not only not permitting people into their homes but also not participating in social activities away from home.
In many cases, a hoarder proves to be so adept at hiding a hoarding situation from others. Family members and friends don’t appreciate there exists a hoarding problem until it has reached a severe level.
By the time a hoarding situation is severe, a house typically is virtually or completely inhabitable. This includes utilities being shut off, including water and electricity.
Mission Viejo – Orange County Task Force on Hoarding
Mission Viejo is part of the collaborative effort known as the Orange County Task Force on Hoarding. The Task Force is described as being a “volunteer, an advisory group that meets monthly to review existing residential hoarding situations that affect the health and safety of individuals in Orange County.”
The Task Force doesn’t provide direct services. Rather, it is comprised of an array of representatives from various programs and agencies serving Mission Viejo and other communities in the county. Groups that encounter hoarding situations can bring cases to monthly meetings of the Task Force for review. (Information presented during Task Force sessions is confidential.)
The goal of bringing hoarding situations to the attention of the Task Force is to aid in developing strategies and plans to remediate the situation. The Task Force also assists in location-specific resources to aid in resolving a hoarding situation to achieve a positive outcome for all involved in that situation.
Resources that might be needed for a particular hoarding situation include:
- Professional hoarding clean up service in Mission Viejo
- Mental health professional(s) to work with a hoarder
- Adult protective services
- Child protective services
- Animal welfare organizations (if pet hoarding is an issue)
- Organization specialists
- Support groups for family members of hoarders
The Task Force is adept at developing a spectrum of services and resources that meet the unique needs, goals, and objectives of a particular hoarding situation.
Mission Viejo Hoarding Disorder Therapists
Image Courtesy of Aric McKeown.