SVAA & EAA Team Up on Hoarding Problem

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The Suffield Volunteer Ambulance Association (SVAA) and the Suffield Emergency Aid Association (EAA) are teaming up to help Suffield citizens understand the plight of many who are compulsive hoarders. On Thursday, April 27, a program entitled “Hoarding: More Than Too Much Stuff” will be held from 6:30–8:30 p.m at Suffield Middle School. Two recognized experts in this field, Dr. Randy O. Frost and Dr. Blaise Worden, will be leading the information session designed to help our community understand and learn about the risks, challenges and interventions as relates to compulsive hoarding.

According to Pat Beeman, community outreach social worker at EAA, and Art Groux, Chief of SVAA, statistics show that nationally about 1% of the people in the U.S. are compulsive hoarders, which means that with a population of about 13,000 people in Suffield (not counting the prison) we might potentially have 130 hoarders in our community. Both Groux and Beeman thought that statistic was probably closer to 5%.

In his book, Buried in Treasures, Dr. Frost describes three characteristics of hoarders. 1. “You accumulate and then have great difficulty discarding objects that other people would consider useless or of limited value”; 2. “The clutter is so severe that it prevents or seriously limits the use of living spaces in the manner for which those spaces were intended” and 3. “The clutter, acquiring or difficulty discarding causes significant impairment or distress.” According to Frost, compulsive hoarding is considered to be a psychological problem that can lead to “dangerous problems, putting people at greater risk for fire, falling, respiratory problems and other health risks. This may be particularly true for older people who may already have difficulty walking and are a greater risk of injury if they fall.”

Fires are one of the many concerning problems. According to Chief Groux and Pat Beeman, about one quarter of fatal fires are directly related to hoarding. For the SVAA, their ability to get access to a person in distress and get them to safety can be problematic in a situation where entrances and exits are blocked with hoarded materials.

The joint program on April 27 is designed to help people understand what hoarding is, to help identify the resources available for help, to develop an understanding of the reasons for hoarding and to be proactive about prevention.

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