Woodmere Hoarding Case (02:36)
On Long Island in 2007, 85-year-old Helen Bushwick's house was discovered filled from floor to ceiling with garbage and debris. Her companion John Tikson had suffocated under refuse.
Cleaning a Hoarder's House (02:56)
Tikson's great nephew David Coffin was tasked with clearing his home of garbage and debris. Tikson's sister Helen Chiarello recalls his relationship to Bushwick, who seemed healthy and functioning.
Hoarding Pattern (02:08)
Tikson was married to Bushwick's sister Ann. They lived together until Ann died in a 1979 house fire; her escape was blocked by debris. Bushwick and Tikson continued living together afterwards; neighbors Alan and Hillary Estner describe them as friendly but isolated.
Mystery of Hoarding (02:23)
Coffin found debris throughout Tikson's house, garage, and cars. Tikson and Bushwick were financially stable. The Estners noticed their garbage ending up on their neighbor's property, but did not want to breach their privacy.
Hoarding Disorder (02:12)
Mental health experts discuss the urge to save items and distress around discarding them. Clutter accumulates, interfering with daily function. Between two and five percent of Americans suffer from the treatable disorder.
Social Stigma (03:30)
People with hoarding disorder hide their lifestyle from others out of shame. The Estners noticed Tikson and Bushwick had poor personal hygiene and collected trash, but did not know how to broach the subject. Social services visited the house on occasion.
Social Network Failure (02:43)
The Estners called the police, concerned that Bushwick was ill. In the hospital, Bushwick apologized to Hillary Estner for being a poor neighbor. A nurse accused Hillary of being responsible for Bushwick's well-being. Hillary felt Bushwick was independent and did not want help.
Bob Green's Hoarding Case (03:47)
Cindy Stevens has tried to help her father's disorder for years. Green plans to use everything he collects. He keeps his apartment clean and sleeps on a mat in the living room. Stevens explains how hoarding hinders her father's life.
Family Intervention (03:00)
Hoarders are often artists unable to practice their craft due to space issues. Stevens recalls when her father's disorder became apparent; he hid his lifestyle until he injured himself at home. He resisted getting help.
Changing Environment (02:07)
Stevens convinced Green to move to an apartment. It took her months to clean out his house and impacted her own family life negatively. He believed he was starting over, but continued to hoard until threatened with eviction.
The Hoarding Project (03:56)
Jennifer Sampson did a qualitative research study on hoarding. She and Janet Yeats founded an organization to work with families of hoarders. They have helped Green make his apartment safe to live in. He discusses his desire to improve his disorder.
Hoarding Causes (02:20)
Hoarding was once believed to be an obsessive-compulsive behavior; it is now classified as a distinct disorder. Brain imaging shows decreased activity in focused attention, motivation, and decision making. Risk factors include genetics; individuals begin collecting during their teenage years.
Hoarding Intervention Program (07:19)
Peter McIntyre has been trying to remove clutter from his apartment for years. Jesse Edsel-Vetter trains professionals to help elderly hoarders keep their low-income housing. He divides homes into sections to make decluttering more manageable and instructs clients to prioritize items.
Setting Health and Safety Goals (03:03)
McIntyre failed his housing inspection, a decision that could lead to eviction proceedings. Edsel-Vetter trains housing professionals to support hoarder clients, rather than judging them. McIntyre is making progress on decluttering his apartment and can visualize a tidy home.
Terri Parks' Hoarding Case (03:25)
Parks and Barb Able lived together but Terri's clutter interfered with their friendship. After finding another home, she often shopped for therapeutic purposes; items accumulated. She had a successful job and social life, but felt anxiety about her secret lifestyle.
Traumatized by Good Intentions (01:55)
Parks asked friends to feed her cat while she was on vacation. They cleaned out her house while she was away; she felt violated and became depressed. Clutter is the external manifestation of hoarding disorder.
Recovering from Hoarding (04:37)
When she became a grandmother, Parks found motivation to address her disorder. She contacted The Hoarding Project and went to therapy and support groups. She discusses the process of clearing out her home to host her grandson.
Raising Awareness about Hoarding Disorder (02:05)
Parks recalls inviting Able over to celebrate her clean home. Hoarding disorder cannot be cured, but symptoms can be managed; individuals must monitor and control their behavior. Parks advises others to find help before it is too late.
Credits: Beyond Hoarding (03:01)
Credits: Beyond Hoarding
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