December 11, 2010 in Features

How to handle hoarder neighbor

Kathy Mitchell/Marcy Sugar
 

Dear Annie: A woman in our subdivision is a hoarder. Her house is shuttered, but there is a crack in one window through which everyone can see the stacks of newspapers that reach the ceiling. The back seat of her car is crammed with debris, and there is probably clutter underneath the pedals. A neighbor contacted the police about it, but they said they had to catch her driving. The one time they did, she claimed she was having a garage sale and they let her go with a warning.

How can we help her? We’ve tried calling various local government agencies, but hoarding does not seem to fall into anyone’s area. – Jacksonville, Fla.

Dear Jacksonville: Hoarding is a mental health issue, possibly connected to obsessive-compulsive disorder. Does your neighbor have any family? If so, contact them and suggest they talk to the woman’s doctor. Also try local church and community groups, and contact the International OCD Foundation (ocfoundation.org). And if you have reason to believe your neighbor’s home is a health hazard, report it to your local public health officials and let them investigate.

Dear Annie: I want to affirm the comments from “Sevierville, Texas,” who said he and his wife have decided to leave their bodies to a medical school.

My sister attended medical school a few years ago. They were all assigned a cadaver to work on to learn anatomy. At the end of the semester, the body was returned to the family for a closed casket memorial service. Every student who worked on a particular cadaver was required to attend the memorial service to see who this person was in life. It helped remind them that they are working on real people who should be treated with respect. I’d like to thank all those who donate their bodies to science for their generosity. – Doc’s Sister


Thoughts and opinions on this story? Click here to comment >>

Get stories like this in a free daily email