Monika Eckfield was born and raised in Washington, D.C. and as a teenager moved with her family to California. In California, she lived close to her German and Swedish grandparents and through those interactions her interest in gerontology began. Monika received a Bachelor's degree in Psychology from the University of California, San Diego and a Master's degree in Nursing at San Francisco State University with a focus in gerontological nursing. Monika's nursing career began at On Lok, the pioneering program of senior health care from which the Program for All Inclusive Care of the Elderly (PACE) was developed. The interdisciplinary team training Monika received at On Lok inspired her to move into a geriatric care manager position where she could develop and coordinate interdisciplinary care plans with older adults and their families living in the community.
As a geriatric care manager, she had a number of clients who struggled with hoarding and cluttering behaviors. While there were clients who were middle-aged and older who displayed these behaviors, it became clear that the impact of hoarding behaviors on the health and quality of life of older adults was much more severe. It was these experiences that lead her back to school to conduct research on this important but greatly understudied issue.
Monika is currently a PhD candidate at the UCSF School of Nursing. Her research is on the onset, experience and effect of hoarding behaviors in older adults. She was awarded a John A. Hartford "Building Academic Geriatric Nursing Capacity" Scholarship to fund her doctoral studies and she is an active participant in the UCSF/ Hartford Center of Geriatric Nursing Excellence's activities. She is a member of the San Francisco Task Force on Compulsive Hoarding and has developed multiple trainings for various audiences on the topic of hoarding behaviors. Monika has presented at several local, national and international conferences on the topic of hoarding behaviors in older adults and was featured as a clinical expert on hoarding behaviors in a documentary titled "Help! I'm a Hoarder" shown on The Learning Channel. Monika's overall goal is to develop a career that includes three components: working as an educator in a school of nursing; engaging in research on mental health issues affecting older adults; and directly improving the lives of older adults through her involvement with community based organizations.