We all have different personalities, and each of us reacts to stress differently. Some of us lash out right away, while others hold it in until it begins to manifest itself outwardly. Patients with Diogenes syndrome often fall into the latter category, and their hoarding situation can be one of the most severe. Stress finds a way into each of our lives, but when it affects us as severely as it does people with Diogenes syndrome, turning a new leaf can seem impossible. Many people do not know how to begin to help, and when they try, often end up upsetting the sufferer even more.
The disorder is most prevalent in people of high intelligence at or beyond middle age. These individuals reacted to stressful situations by becoming distrustful of others, leading them to enter into a state of extreme self-neglect, isolation, and despondency. Because they lack the decision-making skills and the sense of purpose to make the upkeep of their homes possible, they tend to hoard trash while maintaining no organization whatsoever, and their living space becomes a sea of garbage, waste, and decay.
The lack of organization within their homes can cause more than physical destruction, however. Even more severe is the mental effects associated with Diogenes syndrome. Because sufferers have cut themselves off socially, finding a way to help them can be extremely difficult. By the time others become aware of the extent of the damage done, they have often sunk into catatonia–that is, a complete disassociation from their environment–and are on the verge of a mental breakdown. Treating Diogenes victims requires tact and knowledge as well as time and patience.
Our approach towards Diogenes patients embodies all our core values, yet we take special precautions with this type of hoarder because their situation is so delicate. Before we begin to clean, it is vital that we first earn their trust, which is often the most difficult part of these cases due to the naturally suspicious nature of the patient. Instead of overwhelming them with facts and logic, we try to first have them warm up to individuals so that we can make slow, yet steady, progress. Once we have convinced them that we are here to help, we can begin the process of cleaning and reorganizing their home. These measures, combined with proper mental care, give the Diogenes sufferer a better hope of recovery. We do more than just lend a hand; we show them how to help themselves.
We never make a decision about any of your belongings without asking permission first. We remain conscious of the wishes of the client during every step of the process.
When we have finished, you will be confident enough to open your home to guests—perhaps for the first time in years—and the sense of relief will be liberating. Let us assuage your fears by helping you see past the initial shock. You have already overcome the first and highest hurdle by your decision to seek help; as for the rest, we’ll take it from here.