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'Hoarders' shines light on living landfills

1:56 AM, Jan 26, 2010   |    comments
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SACRAMENTO, CA- Compulsive hoarders are getting lot of airtime thanks to a new and popular television series.

But hoarding can lead to serious problems. Some homes may become a health hazard and code enforcement may be forced to step in.

Holly Graff, a local certified professional organizer, says she can help hoarders get their situation under control before it's too late.

Graff is currently helping a Sacramento woman, who did not want to be identified, attempt to deal with her hoarding problem. The rooms in her home are overrun by trash, clothes, old papers and wrappers.

"Over here is trash. You can see, she's not even using regular dishes. She's eating in the bedroom," said Holly Graff, with Clutter Control Angels.

The woman's home is cluttered, but she's not the worst Graff has seen.

"We have a clutter hoarding scale. It goes from one to five. Five is a third world country where plumbing isn't working. Things aren't working. This is probably a three bordering on a four," said Graff.

Graff says hoarding is one form of obsessive compulsive disorder. Her client admitted she has OCD.

"I have a hard time letting go," said the woman who often fears throwing things away.

Graff says her client has trouble even throwing out the trash. The client must check everything and go through it multiple times.

Some people mistake hoarders as being lazy, but clutter experts say it's often a sign of something much more serious. The individuals may need therapy.

"There's a whole list of different things that could be happening," said Graff. "Things that happen in the family life or lots of moves, divorces or a death in the family. There some people who have ADHD who are organizationally challenged. They need some help. They need therapy."

As for the Sacramento woman, the reasons she hoards are varied.

She said she was struck by a car and couldn't walk for six months. She also said she lost her job. Plus, she admits she always had issues with cleaning and organizing.

"...if I was cleaning up a table, I'd have to count the surface.1-2-3-4-5 and make sure I got it just perfectly. That would take me forever, and then, it was overwhelming," said the woman.

Graff offered this advice to those trying to take control of clutter: Take things and break it down into small steps.

When the clutter becomes critical, Graff suggested the individual get a diagnostic evaluation. Also, they should consider getting a friend, a family member or a professional organizer to help removing some of the items.

Graff is holding a class called "Simplifying Your Life-Letting Go of Clutter" on Saturday, March 13. It begins at 10 a.m. to noon at El Dorado Hills Community Services. Check out: for more information.

by Suzanne Phan


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