‘Heartbreaking’ hoarding disorder rises as America ages, according to new Senate report

A new report shows that problems with hoarding are rising in the U.S. due to an aging population.

U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA), Chairman of the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging, unveiled the report on Tuesday which he said "sheds light on the heartbreaking effect that hoarding disorder has on older Americans and their communities."

The report, titled "The Consequences of Clutter: How Hoarding Disorder Affects America’s Older Adults, First Responders, and Their Communities," details the results of an investigation into hoarding disorder – a condition that leads people to accumulate more objects than their homes can accommodate.

According to the report, the disorder affects as many as 14 million people in the United States, disproportionately older adults.

FILE: Messy room inside a hoarder's home. (Credit: Kurt Wittman/Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

"Hoarding disorder is a heartbreaking condition that is posing challenges to older adults, their families, and their communities across the country," Casey, a Democrat and senator from Pennsylvania, said in a statement. "My new report demonstrates the scope and severity of these challenges and offers a path forward for how we can help people, communities, and local governments contend with this condition. 

The investigation examined the factors that lead to hoarding disorder among older adults, along with the effects that it has on older adults and their families, as well as local governments and first responders. 

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In the report, Casey also issued a series of recommendations for how federal agencies can better respond to hoarding disorder and support affected older adults and their communities.

"The federal government has an obligation to ensure that Americans can age with dignity, and this report makes clear that obligation must include doing more to address hoarding disorder," Casey continued. 

What is hoarding disorder?

According to the report, hoarding disorder is a serious mental health condition that causes people to accumulate more objects than they need.

The disorder impacts roughly 2% of the general population and about 6% of those over the age of 70.

For older adults, the consequences of hoarding disorder include health and safety risks, social isolation, eviction and homelessness. For communities, consequences include public health concerns, increased risk of fire and dangers to emergency responders.

Casey’s report issued a series of recommendations for how the federal government can increase support to communities that are contending with hoarding disorder, including expanding access to treatment for the condition, providing local officials with more extensive guidance and training to support afflicted individuals, and expanding the scope of tracking and research about how hoarding disorder is affecting individuals and communities nationwide.