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Are you a hoarder? Here’s some help

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You’ve probably seen the shows on TV featuring homes piled to the ceiling with clothing, garbage and even human waste.

But hoarding expert and owner of Clutter Cutters, Terina Bainter, said it doesn’t have to get that bad.

“If we could reach these individuals when it’s becoming a moderate safety issue…it’s a whole lot easier, a whole lot faster and a whole lot cheaper to get those individuals back to a safer level,” Bainter said.

With that in mind, Pierce County is offering a series of free workshops on Hoarding. Bainter will be there giving advice to people who think they might have a problem or people who are worried about a loved one.

Bainter said there’s no hard line between being a little messy and being a hoarder. It’s a range. Some things to consider are whether there are safety issues, whether rooms can be used for their intended purposes and whether the mess is causing stress for the individual or their family.

With a true hoarder it’s not about the stuff, according to Bainter. There’s a deeper issue causing the problem, like a family trauma or depression.

“They’re not trying to necessarily be difficult. They’re not lazy by any stretch of the imagination,” Bainter said. “But, they don’t know what to do.”

Just grabbing a truck and bunch of boxes is not the answer &#8212 that can actually cause more trauma, Bainter said. Ideally, there will be some mental health counseling in place before the clean up even begins.

Before you can even begin the process, though, you have to have the conversation. Bainter believes the best way to start a discussion about hoarding is to talk about safety.

“You know, the pathways are not 3-feet-wide. If the firefighters need to get in here to get you, they can’t,” she said. “I notice that there’s papers in front of the heater and the furnace, and that’s a great big concern to me.”

Bainter will be organizing six free workshops in January through Pierce County’s Community Connections Aging and Disability Resource Center.

No reservations are required. For more information call 253-798-4600, or check the event website.

• January 12, 6:30 p.m. at University Place Library

• January 13, 12 p.m. at the County, City Building in Tacoma

• January 13, 6:30 p.m. at the Graham Library

• January 15, 12 p.m. at the Pierce County Annex in Tacoma

• January 20, 6:30 p.m. at the Sumner Library

• January 23, 9:30 a.m. at the Soundview Building in Tacoma

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