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Hoarding disorder may be nonsensical to a lot of people. If you have a hoarder in your family, it may even become frustrating and extremely stressful. However, it can also be a very sensitive topic for hoarders, surrounded by embarrassment and shame.

What is hoarding?

Compulsive hoarding is the process of accumulating a large collection of items of all varieties no matter how seemingly worthless and irrational it may seem. Hoarding is a mental health problem. It’s generally agreed that hoarding can be caused by a traumatic event, like the loss of a loved one. Hoarders often think the items they are collecting may have some value to them in the future, no matter how worthless.

How hoarding affects others?

This cluttered and unsanitary nature can take a toll on relationships. Especially if you cohabit with a hoarder. There will likely be many attempts to stop hoarding but it is never usually as simple as it sounds. This in turn can create conflict in your relationship.
Moreover, there are financial implications of hoarding. Excessive shopping can sometimes be involved in hoarding. Many may think it is more excessive keeping but some hoarders do both, causing financial impacts. There is also the concern of damage caused by hoarding. Keeping rubbish and different waste can of course attract pests and vermin. This then causes damage to your property and will need certain specialists to restore the damage caused which is not cheap. Furthermore, hoarding in general can cause the value of your property to plummet.
Hoarding creates numerous issues which can impact cohabitation. There may be times you wish to discard the mess or hire a team like us to clear it, but this may cause more harm than good. Leading to a breakdown of trust and no reason hoarding can’t be repeated.

Recognising hoarding disorder

It may be easy to overlook the early signs of hoarding disorder. Note, there is a difference between hoarding and keeping more sentimental items as you get older. A hoarding disorder is comprised of the following tendencies: They will find great importance in a lot of possessions despite how unsentimental the item may be. This can include valuable items but also rubbish and even waste.
All homes can have a degree of clutter. However, hoarding can be measured by doorways and windows being blocked by the degree of stored items. This is all too common in the hoarder houses we visit. We have even had to access homes via ladder and window as the doors were barraged with clutter. An extreme symptom of a hoarder houses would be an infestation of pests including rodents and bugs, attracted by the food waste and rubbish stored. There can also be a mould, mildew and dust presence because of the extreme hoarding environments.

Why do people hoard?

It is generally agreed that hoarding can be caused by a traumatic event like the loss of a loved one. Hoarders often think the items they are collecting may have some value to them in the future no matter how worthless. Neurologists suggest that hoarding behaviour stems from the neurological drive to collect supplies, as with many animals in nature collecting food. However, with collecting amongst hoarders, it tends to be based off emotional value. The problem is; hoarders have no cognitive assessment of real value. Therefore, they collect anything whether its valuable or rubbish and find it has value to them. Hoarding can often accompany other mental health problems, such as OCD, anxiety, depression, ADHD and PTSD.

Discussing your loved ones hoarding

The difficult factor of discussing hoarding is that they may not realise their behaviour is problematic. Never try to resolve the situation behind their back by discarding the hoarded items and clearing the property. This will only destroy trust, cause conflict, and raise more issues.
Before the discussion, assure that you are educated on the matter of hoarding. Hoarding is not a choice but instead a disease. The more you understand about the disorder, the easier it is to be empathetic towards your loved one, offering the most appropriate support.
You should also refer to the possessions being hoarded as “possessions”. Do not regard them as junk or rubbish no matter how worthless they may seem. This will build trust and create an easier path for the conversation. From there, you can discuss your concerns. The aspect of safety should be a primary focus when exclaiming your concerns of their behaviour. Both yours and theirs. Homes can become inhospitable and dangerous from hoarding, causing serious injuries from stacked items falling on people. Hoarder houses can also be enormous fire hazards due to the clutter reducing ease of escape.
Hoarders struggle with motivation to change. It’s important to offer your help with their decision making and motivating them to try and make changes. Accepting help can be hard for most people but just offering assistance and understanding can truly make a difference. In certain cases, your help will not be enough. There are professionals who can assist with extreme hoarders who feel they cannot easily change. You can help by offering to research therapists, support groups, and treatment programs in your area.

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