Top Ten Things When Dealing with Hoarding / Hoarders
It can be extremely difficult for a hoarder to come to grips with the fact that they are suffering from a serious condition. Address Our Mess, a hoarding clean up service professional with over twenty years of experience servicing the hoarding community, has compiled a list of top ten problems helpers may run into while dealing with family members or friends who are hoarders.
10. Hoarders Social Anxiety and Isolation
Hoarding creates a veil of embarrassment and shame around someone struggling with the condition. Though some hoarders may live in complete denial that their home has become unsafe, unsanitary, and unlivable, others are fully aware of the circumstances in which they live. Because of this, hoarders will distance themselves from their closest of family and friends in an effort to hide their condition.
Social anxieties and isolation can cause a person to refuse allowing others into their home, deny invitations to other people’s homes, or even become introverted or withdrawn during casual conversation.
Because of this self-imposed of isolation, it is almost impossible for someone looking to help a hoarder to begin to build the bond of trust that is sorely needed to begin the healing process. Much patience and understanding is required to take the next step.
9. Confrontational Hoarding Behavior
While hoarders tend to avoid confrontation while inverting deeper and deeper into themselves, things could get dicey should someone accuse them of having an unsanitary home.
Especially if a hoarder is not ready to accept their condition, the person will overreact at the mere mention of there being a problem. Even if a hoarder does seek help, they do not want to be reminded of the downfall of their home and the sense of failure they feel because of it.
Instead, helpers are urged to tread lightly around the topic while building a bond of trust. It is much easier to avoid confrontation from a hoarder if they are ready and willing to speak about it.
8. Stressful or Tense Environments
In many cases, hoarding is caused by a traumatic event that has triggered a compulsive need to hold on to everything in sight. Between social anxieties, isolation, and the origins of unresolved trauma, hoarders’ homes are usually filled with tension and stress.
To cut through the tension, helpers are encouraged to prove that their trust can be earned. Instead of combating a hoarder on the reasons why it may be right or wrong for them to live the way they have chosen to live, try to understand why things are the way that they are and how to come to a solution during hoarding cleanup.
Getting around in a hoarder’s home can be downright dangerous. Piled boxes, crates, shelves, papers, clothing, and other items can collapse on top of someone. The result of a collapse could cause serious injury or even death.
Lack of accessibility in a hoarder’s home can also make it very difficult to diagnose structural issues that need to be resolved. Rodents and vermin can also hide amongst the clutter and mess, creating biohazards that must be dealt with as soon as possible.
Accessibility issues also create extreme fire hazards. Without the ability to safely exit a home that is filled with smoke and flames, hoarders can become trapped in their own homes.
6. Lost Items of Sentimental Value, Monetary Value, or Importance
In many cases, hoarders still understand and comprehend how important items of sentimental, monetary, or useful value are. Items like family photos, insurance policies, jewelry, collectibles, and even safes full of money are lost amidst piles and mounds of unusable junk or clutter. Even though these items of true value are lost in the shuffle, hoarders have a difficult time keeping track of them.
Hoarding and clutter clean up must be handled careful. Technicians should not be allowed to simply walk into a hoarded home and dispose of everything in sight. A proper hoarding cleaning specialist will organize and sort every single item, disposing of garbage, suggest useable items for donation, and restoring keepsakes and collectibles to their original place in the home.
Vermin and feral pets can carry a multitude of diseases and bacteria that could cause serious illness or even death. Depending on the severity of a hoarded home, animals, rodents, and insects of all types could nest within the property.
Animal hoarding cleaning is particularly dangerous, especially considering the high levels of ammonia found in urine and the viruses and bacteria found in feces.
Animals, insects, and rodents can also attack unsuspecting helpers looking to assist their friend or loved one with the hoarding condition. It is advised that highly-trained, certified professionals be called on to deal with feral pets, rodents, and vermin.
4. Not Willing to Discard Garbage or Donate Unused Items of Value
Helpers will find that roadblocks can emerge during any part of the recovery process. Even after the bond of trust has been formed and the project has gotten underway, a hoarder can simply decide that they no longer want to cooperate and refuse to part with any more of their items.
It is imperative to communicate how necessary living in a safe and sanitary environment is. Understanding the type of hoarding condition a friend or loved one is suffering from can make a huge difference in the safety of the project. Contaminated items like rotted food, garbage, bodily fluids, waste, and other fire hazards must be disposed of immediately.
While some items within piles and mounds may be useable, or even brand new, it does not mean that the person must keep them. Items that cannot be used should be considered for donation to a charitable cause. This way, the items the hoarder can let go of clutter in their home while those less fortunate can benefit from useful items.
3. Hoarders Fear of Judgment and Lack of Trust
One of a hoarder’s number one fears is cruel judgment from others. If a hoarder feels like they are being judged for the condition or for the way their home is kept, trust can be broken and possibly irreparable.
No matter how tense, stressful, or frustrating a hoarding cleaning project gets, it is important to keep calm and never judge a hoarder for their decisions. Reviewing the Hoarder’s Do’s and Don’ts is a perfect way to educate oneself on how to and not to approach a hoarder.
Biohazards in a hoarding situation can be deadly. Feces, urine, vomit, blood, and other biohazards can cause epidemics to spread in the home and community. When dealing with a hoarding situation steeped in biohazards, it is crucial to wear Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) whenever entering the home. All PPE equipment should be disposable and should be disposed of properly via a biohazard waste container.
1. Hoarding / Hoarders Unsafe Conditions
Helpers of hoarders should be very vigilant when stepping into a hoarder’s home. Safety hazards can present themselves in a variety of ways. Mounds and piles of clutter could collapse, severely injuring or trapping a person under hundreds of pounds of clutter. Fire and electrical dangers can spark up at any minute. Biohazards like rotted food, feces, urine, vomit, and bodily fluids can cause severe infection, illness, or death. Rodents, vermin, and insects can attack helpers or spread disease. Structural damage can also cause serious injuries and casualties depending on the severity of the situation.
Keeping these top ten tips for helping hoarders in mind when speaking with a hoarder or clutterer is helpful. When hiring a professional make sure they specialize in not just the removal of the waste but making the home sanitary and dealing with the emotional aspect of the hoarder. Call Address Our Mess for more information on hoarding or clutter cleanup situations.