Help for Hoarders

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Hoarding/Clutter Clearance

Compulsive hoarding is where someone obsessively collects an excessive number of items of little or no value  and stores them in a chaotic manner. The items may be worthless, hazardous or unsanitary and usually result in unmanageable amounts of clutter.

 Compulsive hoarding is now recognised as a mental health issue and not only is it a psychological state that can often be linked to depression and anxiety but often creates a dangerous environment for the person to live in.

Recognising a Compulsive Hoarder

Typically a compulsive hoarder will:

  • Amass a large number of items with the conviction that these items are of value when they probably have none.
  • Live in areas that are excessively cluttered and often unhygienic.. Clutter Images will help identify the scale of the problem, click here to see what I mean:
  • Show signs of being unable to function ‘normally’ due to the hoarding

It is considered to be a significant problem if:

  • the amount of clutter affects how they live day to day – for example, the individual is not able to use their kitchen or bathroom and cannot access rooms, this means that basic activities like cooking, cleaning, sleeping and personal hygiene are affected.
  • the clutter is causing significant distress or negatively affecting the individuals quality of life – for example, they become distressed if someone tries to clear the clutter and their relationships with other people suffer.  Often the will not let anybody into their home because they are embarrassed to afraid that others may throw things away.

What Do People Hoard

People with a hoarding disorder may hoard a variety of different items, whilst others may just hoard certain types of items

Items that are often hoarded include:

  • newspapers and magazines
  • books
  • clothes
  • craft materials,
  • leaflets and letters, including junk mail
  • bills and receipts
  • items they intend to reuse or repair
  • containers, including plastic bags and cardboard boxes
  • ornaments, dolls and toys
  • videos/technology
  • household supplies
  • tools

Why Can a Hoarding Disorder be a Problem

A hoarding disorder creates problems on several levels.  It can take over the person's life, making it very difficult for them to move around their home; if working it can cause their work performance to suffer and invariably, personal hygiene and relationships are affected.  It often creates a position of loneliness and mental health problems, and can pose a health and safety risk not only to themselves, family members but often neighbours.

Hoarding disorders are challenging to deal with, many people who hoard do not see the situation as a problem, or when they do, have little appreciation of the impact that this is having on their life and the lives of those around them.  Even when somebody realises that they have a problem, they are often reluctant to seek help feeling shame, guilt and humiliation about their situation.

Most people suffering with a hoarding disorder will experience a strong emotional attachment to the things they collect.

This means that:

  • Cleaning is very difficult, leading to unhygienic conditions and encouraging rodent or insect infestations
  • Personal hygiene is difficult to undertake, washing themselves and clothes
  • Relationships suffer and create isolation and loneliness due to reluctance to have visitors
  • There can be poor property repair, often not allowing tradesman in to carry out essential repairs and maintenance
  • There is a fire risk and it can block exits in the event of a fire
  • In shared housing or where there are close neighbours they too can be affected by rodents and fire risks.
  • Trips and falls become likely
  • Items can fall over or collapse on people, if kept in large piles

What you can do if you suspect someone in hoarding

If you think a family member or someone you know has a hoarding disorder, try to persuade them to come with you to see a GP.

This may not be easy, as someone who hoards might not think they need help. Try to be sensitive about the issue and emphasise your concerns for their health and wellbeing.

Reassure them that nobody is going to go into their home and throw everything out. You're just going to have a chat with the doctor about their hoarding to see what can be done and what support is available to empower them to begin the process of de-cluttering.

It's generally not a good idea to get extra storage space or call in the council or environmental health to clear the rubbish away. This won't solve the problem and the clutter often quickly builds up again.

Help with the Clearance

Bizzy Bodyz have spent a number of years working with a variety of clients suffering from Compulsive Hoarding.

Their situation has not happened overnight and undertaking a sudden clearance will not offer a long term solution just a very short environmental fix and emotional distress to the individual.

Bizzy Bodyz works with the family and hoarder’s guidelines of what can be disposed of and what must be kept and also seeks to work and bring in other professional as needed. This sympathetic and sensitive approach is key to helping with the process of sorting the problem out; it is a longer term solution rather than a repetitive short fix.

In our experience we find that the most important start is to build a relationship with the individual and work out an acceptable strategy for them  The hoarder’s co-operation and our experience helps to make the process efficient as well as reducing the stress that a hoarder might experience which in turn can also help in their recovery. For family members having a third party assisting often helps to rebuild relationships and help them in what is also a very stressful situation

Please call us for a confidential discussion on 02392 423348 to see how we may help or use the form below and we will get back to you;

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