I'm not sure why, but I'm fascinated by the TLC show, Hoarding: Buried Alive, which focuses on the obsessive compulsive need to collect things coupled with the inability to get rid of anything. And in the past while I've helped heirs clear the clutter and get their deceased loved one's property ready to be sold, I have to admit that I've never dealt with a deceased hoarder. Sure, there have been situations where the decedent had lived in the home for 40 or even 50 years and certainly collected a lot of stuff, but nothing like I've seen on Hoarding: Buried Alive. This is why an article in Newsweek by Hannah R. Buchdahl caught my eye: An Unwanted Inheritance.
Ms. Buchdahl writes about Greg Martin, whose mother died last year amid things piled nearly six feet tall, including magazines, papers, books, and clothes. While Mr. Martin thought that it would take about six months to clean out the house, at eight months he was still at it. Another, Bill L. of Colorado, has been working for five years to clean out his mother's home after she was moved into assisted living. He has since decided to hire a professional hoarding-remediation company because he thinks that if he continues to work on his own, "we'd still be at it 10 years later [and] we'd be jobless, homeless, and insane." But the down side to professional remediation is the cost, since according to Cory Chalmers, owner of California-based Steri-Clean, professional remediation of a hoarder's home can cost anywhere from $5,000 to $20,000 or more depending on the size of the home and years spent hoarding.
If you have a loved one who suffers from this extremely complex disorder and don't know where to turn, the International OCD Foundation Hoarding Center website contains information about what the disorder is, diagnosing it, and ways to get help. It's better to seek help before your loved one dies, otherwise you'll be the one stuck with cleaning up the mess.