HADLEY, Mass. (WWLP) – Millions of people suffer from hoarding disorder.
Hoarding is mental disorder where people have a hard time letting items go, leading to clutter that can have devastating effects, especially in a fire.
More than 200 law enforcement and medical professionals met in Hadley for a hoarding disorder conference Wednesday.
The conference also welcomed caregivers, family and friends, all looking for a way to understand and support a loved one, suffering from the disorder.
According to the American Psychiatric Association, people with hoarding disorder excessively save items that others may view as worthless.
Randy Frost, a professor of psychology at Smith College told 22News, “It’s especially dangerous in terms of firemen’s ability to get into and out of the house to save people. Indicating that only a fraction of the residential house fires were due to hoarding, was 24% percent of fire related deaths in residential house fires. So when it happens it’s pretty serious.”
This past June, firefighters had trouble accessing a burning Westfield home where two women died. Clutter in the home made it difficult to rescue the victims.
Professor Frost has written a book to help people recognize if they have a problem with hoarding.