Many residents are unaware that Clark County has a Hoarding Task Force. We all tend to keep things a little too long like our children’s grade school art work and now they are married or on their own and we are still hanging on to that precious box of paintings and construction paper collages.

The Hoarding Task Force is there to help residents who are suffering from having all the stuff they are keeping prevent them from having a safe home environment.

Information provided by The Clark County Combined Health District explains that there are ways to determine if you or someone you know might be a hoarder.

The first question is are you saving more things than you really need? Do the items appear to be of value to you while others find they have no value?

People who are possible hoarders find it overwhelming to stop collecting or to discard objects. There is a fear that something “important” might be lost if things are discarded.

If it is hard to sleep, sit, cook, bathe or socialize in your home, it could be time to reach out for help. If you are a friend or family member, have you expressed concerns for all of the “stuff” your loved one insists on keeping?

It is not an easy task to get started, but with time and effort, changes to old habits can be made. We all experience an overwhelming feeling when we clean out the home of a loved one who has passed or when we decide it is time to move to another home locally or far away.

Developing a plan to make a space more functional takes time and need to be done in small steps with lots of patience when working with a hoarder. The best way to start is the same as when you downsize. Make three piles, one to keep, one to donate and one to toss.

The donation pile should be taken to a charity shortly after the decision is made. The discard pile can go to the trash can and then the keep pile can be put away safely. One of the hardest things is to stop buying new items for many hoarders. You could say a garage sale is like a drug for many hoarders.

The Hoarder Task Force brochure states many of the tips found in magazine articles and books on how to declutter your life. “When it doubt, throw it out” is one of the best tips. “Use it or lose it” is also a popular term and we are not talking about your physical fitness.

When you walk in the door and put the mail on the counter, sometimes it is just easier to keep walking. One of the best things to do is sort it now and toss the junk.

Health concerns are often part of the hoarder’s life. Too many things filling a room can cause falls, injury on the physical end and loss of friends leading to emotional issues. If a fire or emergency occurs in a crowded home, first responders may have difficulty getting in to assist.

Many times individuals young and old become overwhelmed with their “things”. The Hoarding Task Force is available to help by calling 390-5600, ext 245. Services include medical and emotional evaluations and treatments.

Often medications and other treatments can help with the person who is collecting and keeping things. You don’t have to ask for help when you call, your first call can simple be to gather more information.

Keeping things for sentimental reasons are common, the problem occurs when you have too many things to live safely. This can also include animals and that is why the Task Force also includes support from The Humane Society Serving Clark County. Members in the Task Force include many agencies that can help with needs of individuals and families. Adult Protective Services, Child Protective Services, Clark County Sheriff, Elderly United, Mental Health Services for Clark County, OSU Extension and local governmental subdivisions.

The Hoarding Task Force has defined their mission as developing a concerted plan to address the needs of the elderly and child care. Animal care, building and property cleanup, property improvements, correction of hazards, long- term monitoring of the physical and mental conditions of an identified hoarder. They also work to assure care of any animals that remain in their care. The most important goal is resolve neglect, abuse, and safety issues that are associated with hoarding behavior.

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