Chesterfield confronts psychological disorder of hoarding

By Sunni Blevins - bio | email

CHESTERFIELD, VA (WWBT) - A Council on Aging program in Chesterfield County this morning focused on helping hoarders. Hoarding is a psychological disorder from which more than 3 million Americans suffer.

Matt Paxton of the A&E television program "Hoarders" spoke about how it affects people and their families.

Cabell Hatchett with Clutter Cleaner says, "it's a major, almost epidemic, it's a problem."

You've seen it on TV, but might be surprised to learn hoarding is happening in your community.

Hatchett says, "people are clinging on to certain parts of their lives, and their stuff is their life."

That's where Clutter Cleaner comes in. The Richmond-based company is featured on the tv show "Hoarders."

Owner Matt Paxton spoke to this group by phone about how he works to help people let go of their stuff and get their life back. Hoarders are often embarrassed by their habits and isolate themselves, which is why seniors are at high risk.

Joan Kappel with Chesterfield Social Services says, "you may not see as many family and friends dropping by to see this is happening.  People have to be alert to that, if you do have a family member that you think is prone to that, monitor it, keep on top of that, and help them."

Folks can hoard anything, including animals.

In fact, NBC12 has been covering the Patti Wheeler case for nearly a year now. She's the Chesterfield County woman accused of hoarding dozens of cats.

Her defense attorney once told NBC12 that Wheeler's compassion got the best of her, with the cats taking control of the house, while she slept in her car.

Folks at Clutter Cleaner are not surprised.

Hatchett says, "there's been everything from cats, I've heard stories of goats, and it's not just in Virginia but all over the country."

Chesterfield County social services and the Council on aging hope this program will lead to more education.

Jim Warns with the Council on Aging says, "I hope that they are able to take it back and share it with families, loved ones and neighbors."

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