Hoarding

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Hoarding is a serioius problem that affects many people.  Here at Have It Maid we've witnessed and assisted in quite a bit of it.  Being exposed to this situation has taught us that sometimes people can find themselves in over their heads and they just need some help to get their home and lives back.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with this and it's nothing to be embarrassed of.  A diabetic needs their insulin.  Somebody who has lost the use of their legs needs a wheelchair.  An adult with far too much garbage and clutter needs a cleaning service.  And above all, any of these inflictions renders a need for friend/family support.  The key is to know you or your loved one needs help.  Because we feel this is a more serious and sensative situation than most realize, we decided to include some information on this page to help folks understand what you're dealing with.
What are the signs of compulsive hoarding?

  • Difficulty getting rid of items
  • A large amount of clutter in the office, at home, in the car, or in other spaces (i.e. storage units) that makes it difficult to use furniture or appliances or move around easily
  • Losing important items like money or bills in the clutter
  • Feeling overwhelmed by the volume of possessions that have ‘taken over’ the house or workspace
  • Being unable to stop taking free items, such as advertising flyers or sugar packets from restaurants
  • Buying things because they are a "bargain" or to "stock up"
  • Not inviting family or friends into the home due to shame or embarrassment
  • Refusing to let people into the home to make repairs


What makes getting rid of clutter difficult for hoarders?

  • Difficulty organizing possessions
  • Unusually strong positive feelings (joy, delight) when getting new items
  • Strong negative feelings (guilt, fear, anger) when considering getting rid of items
  • Strong beliefs that items are "valuable" or "useful", even when other people do not want them
  • Feeling responsible for objects and sometimes thinking of inanimate objects as having feelings
  • Denial of a problem even when the clutter or acquiring clearly interferes with a person’s life
Reasons for Hoarding

People hoard because they believe that an item will be useful or valuable in the future. Or they feel it has sentimental value, is unique and irreplaceable, or too big a bargain to throw away. They may also consider an item a reminder that will jog their memory, thinking that without it they won’t remember an important person or event. Or because they can’t decide where something belongs, it’s better just to keep it.

Hoarding is a disorder that may be present on its own or as a symptom of another disorder. Those most often associated with hoarding are obsessive-compulsive personality disorder (OCPD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and depression.

Although less often, hoarding may be associated with an eating disorder, pica (eating non-food materials), Prader-Willi syndrome (a genetic disorder), psychosis, or dementia.
How do I have a conversation with my friend of family member who is ready to talk about hoarding?

When a person seems willing to talk about a hoarding problem, follow these guidelines:

Respect. Acknowledge that the person has a right to make their own decisions at their own pace.

Have sympathy. Understand that everyone has some attachment to the things they own. Try to understand the importance of their items to them.

Encourage. Come up with ideas to make their home safer, such as moving clutter from doorways and halls.

Team up with them. Don’t argue about whether to keep or discard an item; instead, find out what will help motivate the person to discard or organize.

Reflect. Help the person to recognize that hoarding interferes with the goals or values the person may hold. For example, by de-cluttering the home, a person may host social gatherings and have a richer social life.

Ask. To develop trust, never throw anything away without asking permission.  Hoarders whose homes are cleared without their consent often experience extreme distress and may become further attached to their possessions. This may lead to their refusal of future help.