Are you or a loved one facing issues with hoarding? Expert help is available online through the successful Buried in Treasures program.
Reality television shows like Channel Nine’s Space Invaders or the American version Hoarders attract a wide audience - it can be cathartic and fascinating to watch people go through the process of clearing and organising their clutter. But for people struggling with hoarding tendencies and their loved ones, there’s a much more serious side to the issue.
The team of hoarding experts at Catholic Healthcare help older people address these challenges with one-on-one support as well as their successful, free online program, Buried in Treasures, kicking off on March 8.
“Buried in Treasures offers social connection and acceptance for people with hoarding tendencies in a non-judgemental supportive environment,” says Mercy, Catholic Healthcare Hoarding & Squalor Manager. “It’s about addressing the root causes of the problem, not just the product of physical clutter.”
The 15-week program is designed to support older people with have hoarding tendencies, and it’s free to older people eligible for the government’s Commonwealth Home Support Program (CHSP). Originally designed as an in-person support group, the move to an online format means that the twice-yearly program is now open to people across NSW.
Participants meet in a small group to learn why they struggle with excessive acquiring, and develop skills and strategies to begin decluttering and the manage hoarding behaviour. Debbie*, one of 75 participants who completed the program last year, found Buried in Treasures invaluable. “The others in the group helped me realise that I’m not alone,” she says. “I also understand now that this is a psychological problem - it’s not just as simple as wanting to have lots of things.”
* Name has been changed to protect privacy.
How you can help
If you have a family member or friend dealing with hoarding, Mercy has some advice on the best way to provide support.
- Step back from the immediate situation and try to understand the reasons why someone collects – emotional attachment, a response to life events, trying to prevent waste
- While the situation can be frustrating, be empathetic, supportive and avoid judgement
- Be patient – it’s a long process so once an individual is on the path to addressing the problem, acknowledge all the small steps and achievements.