5.3 million people suffer from Alzheimer's disease. It is awful and for anyone who has a loved one diagnosed with this, you know how tragic it is. There are associations, research groups, foundations and quite a bit of good information to help those those in need.
15 million people suffer from hoarding disorder. Three times as many people than Alzheimer's. There is a lack of research, zero foundations, very little knowledge, resources and support for those suffering from hoarding.
For some reason the public has a fascination with hoarding. And the fascination is not helpful to those who are suffering.
People often think those suffering from hoarding are choosing to live in a home filled with things. “Maybe they are from the depression era and they can’t get rid of anything”. “Maybe they are just dirty and unorganized”. "They are collectors of junk".
The fact is Hoarding Disorder is a serious mental illness. It is so complex, challenging and misunderstood. This makes people fearful. Fearful of the unknown. When people are afraid they try to seek comfort by labeling and stereotypes are born.
There is a lack of research and treatment for those with hoarding disorder. Those suffering are isolated and ashamed and so are their families. They don’t come out, they don’t seek treatment and research is stalled. It is not something people like to talk about, unless you are commenting about the tv shows, or jokingly comparing your pile of stuff in your garage to A Hoarder.
It wasn’t even included as a mental disorder in the DSM-5 until 2013. We have work to do. Research, treatment and options are needed.
What is it about our society that has empathy for one horrible diagnosis and ridicule the other? Compassion, awareness and education will help.
Create an environment of understanding and open the conversation about hoarding.