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Assistance for hoarders is available but it can be costly

By ROBERTA BAKER
New Hampshire Union Leader

July 15. 2018 10:03PM
A ServPro crew member dressed in full hazmat gear rips up parts of a subfloor damaged by urination from the 20-plus cats that lived in the home. (Courtesy)



Tim Dow, cleanup operations manager for ServPro in Manchester, is frequently called by city health and safety agencies and insurance companies to clean up catastrophic clutter in the city and surrounding towns.

He says hoarding seems to be especially common in seniors who live alone, and whose families seldom check on them.

But the amount of physical help available to remove clutter depends on a senior’s support network and income level. For people whose functioning is compromised by serious mental health conditions — and who qualify for Medicaid — assistance is available from case managers who can come to the house to help clean, discard things and organize the environment. Medicare and private insurers cover counseling to varying degrees, “but there is no private health insurance or Medicare that pays for dealing with hoarding at a logistical level,” says Jennifer Kinsey, director of the REAP program for seniors at the state’s community mental health centers. “In the middle are people without resources and support.”

Junk removal can be pricey, especially for elders on limited budgets. Item-by-item assistance from Tailored Transitions in Meredith, geared to downsizing and clutter-beleaguered seniors, has seen $900 to $8,000 per job over the last two years, according to owners Robin Felch and Sarah Lopez, who have experience in social work and recreational therapy.

Trained as Senior Move Specialists, a national accrediting organization, Felch and Lopez provide services according to individual wishes and the situation’s requirements, including bagging things for the dump, donating items to charity, and arranging for valuables to be sold online or at auction.

Similar services are available from Lifetime Estate Liquidations and Transitions, senior move specialists in Bedford.

In contrast, a 15-yard dump truck load removed from a home typically costs $600 in greater Manchester, says Kristela Hernandez, office manager for Speedy Junk Removal, which serves southern New Hampshire.

“A lot of seniors can’t afford that,” says Hernandez, “so we try to work with them by reducing the price a little. Sometimes we take away smaller amounts every once in a while so they can afford it.”

Silver Linings is a continuing Union Leader/Sunday News report focusing on the issues of New Hampshire’s aging population and seeking out solutions. Union Leader reporter Roberta Baker would like to hear from readers about issues related to aging. She can be reached at rbaker@unionleader.com or (603) 206-1514. See more at www.unionleader.com/aging. This series is funded through a grant from the Endowment for Health.


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