Compulsive hoarding doesn’t only happen in the movies!
Several times a year, the Évolia Transition team comes to the assistance of families who are desperately dealing with situations they were sometimes not aware of.
Definition: Diogenes Syndrome is mainly characterized by a behavioural disorder that leads to neglected, sometimes unhealthy living conditions, both in terms of personal hygiene and the home. The syndrome is also characterized by an extreme form of hoarding. Sufferers are unable to get rid of objects they have no use for, most of the time, and have an insatiable need to buy all kinds of objects in bulk, on sale.
Prevalence: Diogenes syndrome most frequently affects older people aged 70 to 80, mainly those who live alone, particularly women. Anxiety is a big part of the clinical picture.
Compulsive hoarding is seen across the social spectrum, regardless of education level.
Warning signs: Intentional solitude or isolation seems to be the main trigger. The behavioural disorder is often found in older people who are lonely following the death of their spouse or close relative. People with the syndrome isolate themselves as much as possible. Some become recluses, and thus no longer have as strong a reason to maintain their home or take care of their personal hygiene.
Diogenes syndrome is a pathological disorder that leaves people unable to get rid of anything, despite having amassed junk for years. Although many individuals can control the tendency, people with the disorder live in such a state of chaos that it alters their lives.
In the most severe cases, the disorder and lack of hygiene nearly always attract insects and cause mold growth, while the accumulation of detritus creates nauseating odours. The environment is conducive to vermin and insect infestation, so action is required!
4% of Canadians—1.4 million people—are compulsive hoarders, twice as many as have bipolar disorder, and four times as many as have schizophrenia.
If you’re observing unusual behaviour in a loved one, don’t hesitate to talk to the CLSC or your doctor about getting help. There are a variety of therapeutic approaches, as well as support groups.
Contact us for more information.