Hoarding is often recognized by objective outsiders when affected individuals have cramped living conditions with very narrow minimal pathways between the stacks of clutter. Usually, all surfaces of a house (countertops, desks, dressers, stairways, sinks, and stoves) are completely hidden beneath large piles of stuff. Cases of hoarding can range from mild to severe, and the real problem lies in that individuals suffering from hoarding disorder rarely see it as a medical problem.
Symptoms of hoarding will usually start to surface during teenage or young adult years, but tend to become a major mental health threat in a person’s later years. Hoarding disorder has many symptoms, but a situation may be considered hoarding if:
- The person acquires and keeps too many items they have no actual use for
- The individual is finding it impossible to justify getting rid of anything
- There’s a compulsive need to save unneeded items for a later time in case they’re needed
- The rooms in the home are inaccessible due to extensive amounts of clutter and the homeowner has extreme difficulty organizing or planning
Hoarding is a serious mental disorder that can surface at any point in a person’s life, however, data shows that in most instances, the act of hoarding is tied to painful feelings and difficult experiences. For many, hoarding is a way to get a handle on their emotions that they’re unable to cope with. Hoarding may also become a cover for another mental health problem such as severe anxiety or being afraid. Researchers do believe that for many hoarders, there’s a direct link between hoarding and childhood trauma. From losing someone to suffering abuse, hoarding becomes a mental outlet and a coping mechanism with an emphasis on trying to achieve “perfection”.
Since hoarding disorder is serious, it also means that the affected individuals are extremely attached to the things they’ve collected. This can make it doubly hard for friends and family to help an individual with hoarding disorder. More often than not, someone with this disorder also doesn’t actually believe they’re doing anything wrong or that they need help. The first step is seeking help from a professional licensed therapist. Though it may seem that the first step is to get rid of the piles of clutter, that can stress and worry the individual with hoarding disorder.
Having a conversation with a loved one about hoarding disorder isn’t easy and requires a great deal of patience and compassion. It’s important to slowly work together with the hoarder in order to get them the help they need. Progressing things too quickly or forcing them to get rid of their possessions will only alienate the individual. It all comes down to showing empathy and being able to understand what that person is experiencing.
Learn more about hoarding disorder at Mayoclinic.org.
There are a few things that can help make hoarding a bit more controlled before a person is ready to seek help:
- DO ensure that everyone wanting to help the person suffering from hoarding disorder educate themselves on how to handle the situation.
- DO use compassionate language when referring to a hoarder’s things. Always avoid terminology such as “junk” or “garbage” and use terms such as “things” or “collections”.
- DO focus on improving the safety of an individual’s home and let them know about ways they can make the environment less hazardous.
- DO motivate a hoarder towards positive change and work with them to get the help they need without forcing them into a corner.
- DON’T ever offer judgment or force a person into throwing their possessions out. This will make them angry and resentful while putting a strain on every relationship.
Once a plan of action for getting help for an individual with hoarding disorder has been established, it’s important to have the toughest conversation of all— asking them to clean up! This is often easier said than done, and on television, it has been over-glorified into a forceful battle of wills between family members and the affected person. The reality is that it’s important for everyone to work together slowly and respectfully to clean the home.
It all comes down to identifying the major problem areas, coming up with small attainable goals, and working together as a team to organize the home room-by-room. During the process, it’s inevitable that many items will need to get disposed of due to condition issues or the fact that they’re beyond use. For this reason among many others, working together with a professional hoarding clean up service like Dry Patrol can help!
What To Look For In Professional Hoarding Cleanup Services
It’s crucial that the service is compassionate, understands the importance of treading carefully, and offers a discreet method of removal.
Dry Patrol Columbus can help local residents and loved ones affected by hoarding. With an emphasis on preserving important items and only disposing of the actual trash, professional clean up can help eliminate some of the stress of getting a person’s life back in order.
What’s more, all surfaces are sanitized and the home receives the repairs necessary to make it a beautiful and functional space again!
Call Dry Patrol of Central Ohio today for more information.