McPherson County agencies and residents are invited to attend a session next week regarding hoarding.

McPherson County agencies and residents are invited to attend a session next week regarding hoarding.

The session, titled “Learning to Let Go: Effectively Impacting Hoarding,” will be from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Wednesday at the Sedgwick County Extension Center, 7001 W. 21st St. N., Wichita. Pre-registration is at 8:30 a.m. Cost is $35 with a lunch included.

At least two area agencies - the McPherson County Health Department and the McPherson County Council on Aging  - plan on attending, and spots are still open. The session is aimed to benefit those dealing with hoarding and those who want to help.

“With hoarding, one of the things we see is, we have to open up the topic to have community discussion,” said a feature speaker Annette Graham, executive director for the Central Plains Area Agency on Aging. “There's a lot of stigma and lack of awareness. For the community providers, it's important to discuss what the issues are and know some of that background. In order to work with them, you have to understand what goes into it.”

Jodi Abington, Executive Director of the South Central Kansas Area Agency on Aging and Disability Resource Center, said the session will include information about support groups, an explanation of the continuum of clutter, a testimony from a former hoarder and other topics. Agencies who attend will aim to form teams support within their communities to help those who struggle with hoarding. This may involve code enforcement, animal control, health care services or other agencies.

“By pulling them all together, you can pull in these other appropriate parities and they can say, 'OK, lets work together and bring resources together to bring a better outcome,' so it's not only one entity approaching it from one perspective,” Graham said.

Presenters will aim to help session attendees understand hoarding cannot be solved by simply charging in and cleaning up someone's home. The habits stem from something deeper - an issue that must be addressed before the collective habit can be altered.

In some cases, hoarding follows a death or loss. In other cases, it may be a professional who is under stress and fears losing company information.

Nancy Troutman, Licensed Specialist Clinical Social Worker with Prairie View and another featured speaker, said the reasons people keep things is as varied as the general public.

“There is no quick fix,” Troutman said. “People are trying to change how they think and how they behave and all those things are very hard. You don't just say, “We need to clean up this room.' That person needs to be in charge.”

Once individuals with hoarding receive help, they are guided to an understanding that collecting objects becomes a problem when they can no longer use a space for its original purpose. Graham said she has seen many individuals in her area benefit from this process.

“They know they're not the only one struggling with it, and they can begin to feel better about themselves and not feel so much shame,” Graham said. “It can help them take action and they can use the house for what it was intended for.”

To receive a registration form or to obtain more information, call 620-442-0268 or 1-800-362-0264.

Contact Jenae Pauls at and follow her on Twitter @PaulsSentinel