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Compassion for Hoarders

You might have been watching local news on Monday night like I was. There was a fire in Maryland and the victim was described as a possible hoarder. Instantly, I felt so protective of this woman, whose condition had been “outed” to her neighbors and friends. And, the tone the newscasters were taking made it worse, landing somewhere between derision and judgment. I was so angry– angry that in addition to recovering from fire-related injuries, she also faced certain public humiliation. I wondered, is this how we are meant to treat each other?

I go into people’s homes for a living. I choose to be be kind to my potential clients, and show them they can trust me with their belongings and memories. It upset me to think that these journalists hadn’t been educated about hoarding or were choosing not to be compassionate. It seemed they were reporting on it without knowing much about it.

For example, hoarders often feel isolated, and have no idea how prevalent their condition is. But according to research conducted at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, compulsive hoarding affects approximately 700,000 to 1.4 million people in the U.S. It’s so common, and yet rarely do you even know someone is dealing with this condition as they keep it a secret.

Hoarding is a mental health condition that may require medical intervention. It can be a serious health and safety concern, and there are county services set up to help. Educate yourself on hoarding, and if you suspect someone you know may suffer from this condition seek assistance from the Fairfax Code of Compliance Office, 703-324-1300.

Thank you, Treasure Hunters, for continuing to make our community a kind one.

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