Is Your Family Member a Messy Person… or a Hoarder?
We’d bet good money that everyone out there has that one family member (or maybe more) whose home is cluttered with “stuff.” They may have boxes in the corner, stacks of documents in their kitchen, dishes in various places, or random collections of items all over the place.
It can be annoying and kinda gross, but are these things the sign of a messy person… or could your loved one be a hoarder?
What Is Hoarding?
Tons of people love to collect things and just as many leave various items around their home, which can even sometimes include rotting food. Many of these people, however, are just messy or busy. They don’t have the time to clean up, they are too lazy to devote any time to it, or they simply don’t care about how it looks.
True hoarding, though, is a different beast entirely. It is often a symptom of OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder), ADHD (attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder), OCPD (obsessive-compulsive personality disorder), or depression. Hoarding can cause a high level of anxiety in the person suffering from it, which extends to emotional, social, physical, financial, and sometimes even legal issues with the hoarder and their family members and friends.
The Dangers of Severe Hoarding
Hoarding can be absolutely devastating to both the hoarder and those close to him or her, as noted above. In some extreme cases, hoarding involves having multiple animals – dogs, cats, rats, etc. – and those animals are often found to be sick or, in some cases, deceased somewhere in the house buried or hidden by debris.
One danger that many people don’t consider until it’s too late is the effect that certain types of hoarding can have on the home itself. In severe cases, moisture build-up will cause mold to form and damage the floors and walls, which can also lead to respiratory issues in people suffering from asthma or allergies. In the case of multiple animals being present, occurrences of unchecked urination, defecation, and shedding can create a toxic environment for people and pets. When these sorts of severe hoarding take place, cleanup by a professional repair and restoration team is your only safe option.
The Tell-Tale Signs of a Hoarder
While it is often pretty easy to identify a hoarder once things get “really bad” (like the people who have been featured on reality shows such as the aptly named Hoarders), there are times when the line between messy person and hoarder is somewhat fine, at least for a while until the condition worsens. Here are some of the signs of a hoarder that you should always be on the lookout for, regardless of its severity:
- Inability or refusal to get rid of possessions
- Severe anxiety when attempting to discard items
- Great difficulty with organizing possessions
- Indecision of which items to keep or throw away
- Indecision on where to put items
- Feelings of being overwhelmed by possessions
- Feelings of embarrassment over possessions
- Unfounded suspicion that other people have been touching your items
- Obsessive thoughts such as the fear of running out of a specific item
- Obsessive thoughts of needing a specific item in the future
- Obsessive actions such as checking the trash for items that have been accidentally discarded
- Social isolation
- Family or Marital Problems
- Financial difficulties
- Loss of the Home or other living space
When left unchecked, hoarding can become dangerous for both the hoarder and their family members and friends. If you know a hoarder, it is imperative that you confront him or her about seeking professional help for whichever disorder or disorders they’re suffering from. And for any damage to a home, make sure to call the repair and restoration experts at Abbotts Fire & Flood. We’ll get everything back to normal so that the hoarder can live in a safe, clean home.