Hoarding affects emotions, thoughts and behavior. The Mayo Clinic says, “People who hoard often don’t see it as a problem, making treatment challenging.”
In the homes of people who engage in compulsive hoarding, countertops, sinks, stoves, desks, stairways and virtually all other surfaces are usually stacked with stuff. And when there’s no more room inside, the clutter may spread to the garage, vehicles and yard.
Signs and symptoms of hoarding may include:
- Cluttered living spaces
- Inability to discard items
- Keeping stacks of newspapers, magazines or junk mail
- Moving items from one pile to another, without discarding anything
- Acquiring unneeded or seemingly useless items, including trash
- Difficulty managing daily activities, including procrastination and trouble making decisions
- Difficulty organizing items
- Excessive attachment to possessions, and discomfort letting others touch or borrow possessions
- Limited or no social interactions
People who engage in hoarding typically collect items because they believe these items will be needed or have value in the future. A person also may hoard items that he or she feels have important emotional significance – serving as a reminder of happier times, for example, or representing beloved people or pets. People who hoard may report feeling safer when surrounded by the things they collect.
Get your friend or relative to a doctor. People who hoard are not usually motivated to seek professional help as they do not recognize there is a problem. Getting them to a doctor may take some patience on your part.
As hard as it might be, you may also need to contact local authorities , such as police, fire, public health or animal welfare agencies, especially when health or safety is at stake.
In order to consider the possibility of treatment, the person may have to be reassured that no one will enter their house and throw things away without their permission .
Do not, under any circumstances, clean out the person’s things without their permission . This is devastating to the person and could provoke violence from some hoarders.
For a list of therapists who specialize in working with hoarders, please contact us .
“You are so calm, cool, and collected. Your nurturing, gentle approach and your forward thinking on behalf of your clients helped me to completely change my life. I don’t miss any of the stuff.”
– Carol N.