MASON CITY, Iowa - It's the persistent difficulty to throw things away because of a perceived need to hold onto them: hoarding. And in 2013, compulsive hoarding was officially recognized as a mental disorder. But how do you try to get help for someone who suffers with it?
On Thursday, case managers came to the Salvation Army to be trained on what to look for and how to help.
Jennifer Golle is a long-term care ombudsman with the State of Iowa, and primarily works with the elderly.
"We'll deal with folks who use their home as a storage unit, that it's completely full of stuff that they've hoarded."
When she was a case manager, she witnessed some very extreme cases.
"Myself and another guy actually cleaned out - a lady who had mental health - her apartment, it was just a few feet high of junk, garbage. It was Casey's cups, it was empty bottles, papers, newspapers."
At Thursday's training, Golle got the chance to learn about the mental aspects of why people hoard.
"What I have found is that it's the most resistive personality type or issue to get somebody to agree to get help or to change."
Cory Chalmers is one of the hosts of the A&E TV show "Hoarders", now in its 11th season. For 24 years, he's cleaned houses of hoarders with his company Steri-Clean.
"Before I got into this, I never thought I would find hundreds of animals. We've found tens of thousands of dollars, we've even found dead bodies in these hoards. We find everything."
He's educating attendees on why they do it, and underlying behaviors that can cause someone to hoard possessions, as well as the dangers of hoarding (such as fire and health hazards), and how to effectively clean a house.
"The biggest two reasons people hoard are depression and post-trauma. The goal here is to educate people on what to look for in their hoarding clients so we can reverse that."
Until recently, Chalmers says that hoarding wasn't something people didn't openly talk about.
"When the show came out, people realize how many hoarders there were. Now that people are able to talk about it, we can explore resources, educate people like we're doing today on how to truly help people other than just cleaning their house, because we know they're going right back to it if that's all we focus on."
If you know someone that is a hoarder, Chalmers advises to reach out for help.
"Most of the clients that we help we put in a four-step process for after care. If they follow these four, they can completely reverse the 97% recidivism rate that hoarding has."
Experts recommend seeking therapy or a psychologist. In addition, Chalmers' website has a list of resources and suggestions, and if the client is age 60+, Elderbridge is also a resource.