“Though it leads people to live in unspeakable conditions, hoarding is a very hard habit to break, experts say.
Courtesy of Reading codes officer Vicki Hoffman. One of Berks County’s most prominent hoarding cases involved this Mineral Spring Road home where dozens of animals were seized a year ago. (SOURCE: Reading Eagle)
“The Bernville woman accidentally hurt herself at home and was too ashamed to call for help. She didn’t want anyone coming into her house and seeing the piles of boxes filled with stuff she had bought from TV shopping channels.
“For years she made excuses about why she couldn’t entertain guests.
“Some of the rooms in her large, upper-middle class house were so full she couldn’t enter them. And in the rooms she could enter, she got around by walking on narrow paths cut through the piles.
“But as embarrassing as it was, the woman finally realized that if she didn’t call someone, she was going to die.
“‘At last, she called her two best friends,’ said the woman’s counselor, Polly Kahl, who specializes in working with hoarders. ‘They were shocked. You would have no idea that she was a hoarder because she can pull it together for the world.’
“By some estimates, 5 percent of Americans are hoarders, said Kahl, a licensed professional counselor who owns Kahl Counseling & Consultation in Spring Township.
“Kahl believes 2 percent is more likely, but she also believes the problem is more common in Berks County, though there’s no data to substantiate that.