Older adults and hoarding: Challenging medical and ageist constructions


  • Bonnie May Ratcliff University of Sydney


The purpose of this article is to critically analyse the dominant discourses surrounding older adults who are labelled with a diagnosis of hoarding disorder. Hoarding has increasingly attracted social interest in recent decades, with a growing number of television shows, books and media dedicated to unpacking the explanations, implications and treatments of hoarding behaviour. The article seeks to disrupt deficit frameworks, applying critical social work perspectives to create new meanings, policy and practice directions for Social Workers. Informed by a postmodern and critical social work approach the article seeks to analyse how power is socially and systemically constructed, questioning universal grand narratives. It seeks to highlight how our understanding of hoarding is informed by Western, ageist and gender discourses. This theoretical platform recognises the diversity of human experiences, and the many ways in which people construct meaning throughout their lives. The article concludes with recommendations for future research.


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Special focus on Women and Children