Top Seven Issues to watch out for when dealing with Hoarders (Part 2)

photo by HypnoArt-

photo by HypnoArt-

In part one  of the two-part series on hoarding and the kind of issues a helper can face with dealing with hoarding, we covered risk to life and health, and the trust deficit issue among hoarders. In part two, we will go over the other important issues to watch out for when dealing with hoarders.

Dealing with Clean-up of Items that Carry Sentimental or Financial Value

There is no doubt that you will come across several roadblocks when dealing with a hoarder. Getting rid of items that are dangerous or of no value is one thing. Dealing with items that do carry an emotional or financial value such as collectibles, insurance policies, property papers, or jewelry can be a whole different ball game altogether. While the hoarder might be aware of the value that these items hold, they are mostly helpless when it comes to sorting things out in an orderly manner. The job of a professional in this case will be focused on sorting things out first, disposing of items that are unnecessary, and cataloging and restoring items that are of value to their former condition. Again, through each step of the way, maintaining an open and positive channel of communication definitely helps. The professional will not simply barge in and start disposing off items. Any sorting out and disposal will happen in collaboration and in keeping with the mental and emotional consent of the hoarder.

Social Isolation and Anxiety Disorder

If you know you are dealing with a hoarder, then you will also recognize their deep dislike for social interactions. Over a period of time, this dislike can turn into social isolation. The reason for this isolation is the fear of embarrassment and shame associated with their living conditions. They might be aware of the kind of dangers and risk their living conditions pose to outsiders and this also could lead to voluntary social isolation. When this happens, breaking through the self-imposed barriers and forming a connection can be extremely difficult. In cases where this is the case, professionals hoarding clean-up technicians will work closely with a helper to build a bond of trust prior to making any changes to the present living conditions.

Stressful or Tense Environments – Causes behind Hoarding Behavior

Often it is a traumatic event in the past that could have triggered a compulsive need to hoard everything in sight. Because of the social isolation, the unhealthy living conditions, and the stress of dealing with a mental condition all on their own, the life of a hoarder can be very tense and full of stress.

Again, the only way forward is to address the real triggers that lead to hoarding in the first place. If you can understand the triggers and reasons behind the hoarding tendency, dealing with someone who is a hoarder becomes easier. Remember, unless there is a clear understanding of the cause, finding a solution can be difficult.


Hoarding as a behavioral condition still needs a lot of exposure. The documentation for this condition is still largely minimal. However, hoarding is a real condition and it affects a number of people. If you are in contact with a hoarder or if you know of someone who needs help, seeking professional help could lead to a proper and much needed resolution for the person affected.

Top Seven Issues to watch out for when dealing with Hoarders (Part 1)

photo by HypnoArt-

photo by HypnoArt-

Hoarding is a real problem. However, it goes unrecognized primarily because there is very little information about the condition in the public domain. In this two-part series on hoarding, we will cover the top issues to watch out for when dealing with hoarders.

Most hoarders will deny having a hoarding problem. It is not entirely surprising since most people with a psychological emotional problem tend to refuse to accept their condition. Acceptance however, is the first step towards finding a solution to the problem. While this is easier said than done, it is a step in the right direction. For people who are in contact with hoarders for any number of reasons, there are not only telltale signs of hoarding, but more importantly, there are a number of issues that crop up when dealing with someone who has a hoarding condition.

Here are top 4 issues you need to aware of if you are in contact with a hoarder.

Safety is Compromised

The home of a hoarder is a like a minefield. There is stuff everywhere and you never know what can cause harm or presents a real danger. Navigating through all the clutter and heaps of potential debris both inorganic and organic is never an easy task. In addition to health risks posed by organic debris such as rotten food or any other bodily fluids/waste, there is also danger from inorganic debris such as electrical wiring or fire and water hazards.

Partial and or Complete Lack of Trust

One of the biggest challenges when dealing with hoarders is the issue of trust deficit. Fearing a judgmental attitude, or loathing for the clutter in their homes from others is one of the leading reasons for the trust deficit. This also presents the biggest challenge when dealing with hoarders. If they sense any kind of negative response, getting them to trust you can become next to impossible.

Unwilling to Part with their Collection

Creating a bond of trust is crucial when dealing with hoarders. However, even then, getting them to cooperate with you and part with any of their stuff can prove to be a challenge every step of the way. In addition to constant positive communication and appreciation for being co-operative, it is also important to stress up on the danger to safety not just for the hoarder, but also family member, friends and others who come into contact with the hoarder. This kind of constant but positive affirmation can help the hoarder trust in your advice and make them more accommodative to parting with their items.

Potential and Real Health Risks

When you step into the home of a hoarder, there is always the danger to health in the form of feral pets or vermin that harbor disease causing germs. It is not uncommon to find all kinds of insect life, rodents, as well as animals sharing the property of a hoarder. In fact the danger to life is greater when dealing with animal hoarding as the cleaning is particularly dangerous. There is also the danger of being attacked by animals. Unless you are highly-trained, and or a certified professional, dealing with this kind of situation on your own is not advisable.


To Be Continued….

Hoarding among the Elderly is more common than you think

photo by StockSnap-

photo by StockSnap-

Visiting the home of an elderly person or senior citizen can be wonderful experience. Their homes can be a treasure trove of stories and items from an era which is quickly fading. However, more often than not, you will also come across a lot of unnecessary items among all the goodies. It can be a jungle out there!

It is difficult to fathom, why anyone would want to hold onto items that are years and even decades past their expiry date! And in a lot of cases, food and medication make it into that list. If you know an elderly person who has been holding on to things that are clearly of no value, chances are they are classic hoarders. What is truly sad is that most people are still largely unaware that hoarding is an actual disorder and that it is fairly common.

Common Symptoms of Hoarding Disorder

  • Difficulty in letting go of personal possessions even if they don’t carry any value.
  • An overwhelming urge to continuously save items.
  • Clearly getting distressed at the thought of discarding personal possessions.
  • Extensive cluttering which impacts the functionality of the house/rooms.
  • No obvious connection between the hoarding behavior and any other medical condition or psychological disorder.

Understand the Condition, Before Offering to Help

As is the case with all psychological behavioral conditions, dealing with someone, especially a loved one with hoarding disorder takes a lot of understanding, patience and compassion. The effects of this disorder extend to the person’s emotional condition, physical condition, financial situation, and in certain cases there could be legal implications as well.

However, if you have an active awareness of the condition, the causes and symptoms of hoarding, you will find it easier to deal with someone with a hording disorder. If you can build a level of trust with the person, then convincing and encouraging them to opt for therapy, assisted living, or both can become easier.

Professional Hoarding Clean-up Services

The biggest problem when dealing with an elderly person with hoarding disorder is that in addition to all the clutter, the actual living conditions can be unhealthy and dangerous. Cleaning up the house of a hoarder is a herculean task. It is best that you seek the services of a professional hoarding clean-up services company. These are professionals who have the experience to deal with extensive hoarding and cluttering.

Professional hoarding clean-up technicians will first carry out an assessment of the situation and provide you with an estimate of the work involved.  De-cluttering a space can also reveal conditions where it is necessary to carry out property restoration. There might be a need to address conditions such as stains, mold damage, odor removal, among other biohazards. These technicians however, have the necessary tools and supplies to sanitize and restore the property to its former habitable condition once again.

Once the clean-up is complete, your hoarding clean-up services professional will also collaborate with the client and their families to ensure the problem of hoarding is actively addressed. Often, this involves working with trained professionals who can collectively ensure that the house remains clean after de-cluttering.