DEAR ABBY: Your reply to the letter from "Troubled in Colorado" (Jan. 10), regarding "Meg," a compulsive hoarder, missed one important point. Hoarding is treatable. I am a code compliance officer and encounter these situations frequently.
Hoarding is known by several other names -- Pack Rat Syndrome, collecting, etc. -- but it is considered to be a form of OCD, which is highly treatable once you convince the person to get treatment. Sufferers are usually aware they have a problem, but ashamed to let anyone know.
This problem crosses all social and economic boundaries. People with it are often highly intelligent, otherwise normal people. They just need help, and it is available. Many areas have support groups to help. -- JUDY JONES, MURIETTA, CALIF.
DEAR JUDY: Thank you for writing. Yes, as with many other problems, help is available -- if those who need it will only reach out. People with OCD can be helped through therapy, drugs, experts and organizations.
One such organization is the Obsessive Compulsive Foundation. It is best accessed through its Web site, � HYPERLINK "http://www.ocfoundation.org" ��www.ocfoundation.org�. Its phone number is (617) 973-5801. It offers referrals to local groups across the United States. Read on:
DEAR ABBY: "Troubled in Colorado" should call her county social services office. Most states have a senior adult services office that could help the woman in that letter take care of her needs. Hoarding is often a sign of self-neglect, and that's something these officers often deal with. They can refer her to providers who can help her clean her place.
If she has a mental health issue, the senior services worker would also help her find counseling or a doctor to deal with her challenge in discarding things. -- C.R. MAHONEY, AGENCY ON AGING, CLEVELAND
DEAR READERS: FYI, your local Area Agency on Aging can be reached at (800) 677-1116 or at � HYPERLINK "http://www.eldercare.gov" ��www.eldercare.gov�, and has expertise in handling such matters.
DEAR ABBY: I'm responding to "Troubled in Colorado," who was trying to decide what to do about the poor living conditions she found in her sick co-worker's house. I work in a hospital, and what I have seen under similar circumstances is that EMS will report living conditions like the one she described to the receiving ER, which will likely get a case manager involved, along with treating the patient's medical problems. The woman sounds like she has significant OCD that needs to be addressed. -- R.G. IN CRANSTON, R.I.
DEAR ABBY: As a professional organizer for more than 10 years, I have seen it all. "Meg," the woman in that letter, is a hoarder, which can be caused by depression. Any professional organizer should be able to help her get organized. But she also needs professional help to get to the bottom of her depression. The condition of her house is a symptom of her problem, and any professional organizer who deals with hoarders can help her. -- LESLIE J., NEW BRITAIN, CONN.
DEAR ABBY: My sisters found me in similar circumstances. The dirty living quarters, not reaching out for help -- these are all too common among people with major depressive disorder. The past year has been difficult, but with the help of my family, my therapist and the right medication, I'm doing well. You were right, Abby, when you said "Troubled" needs to let the hospital know, so "Meg" can get the help she needs. -- DOING BETTER IN MILWAUKEE
What teens need to know about sex, drugs, AIDS and getting along with peers and parents is in "What Every Teen Should Know." To order, send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $6 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby -- Teen Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in the price.)
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