The sight of a hoarder’s home may be shocking. But there is a lot more at risk than the home’s appearance.
Hoarding is a serious problem that can cause substantial safety concerns. You could be dealing with anything from a challenging cleanup to some pretty significant health hazards.
When someone in your life is hoarding, your first inclination might be to chastise them.
Or maybe you have a strong urge to take over the home and throw everything away. Unfortunately, taking these actions will not get you the desired result.
Of course, you want to help that person lead a clutter-free life. You just have to take the proper precautions to ensure things are taken care of safely.
Protecting yourself and your loved ones should always be your top priority.
Make sure you fully comprehend what you’re up against before you walk into a situation you’re not ready to handle. Not doing this could lead you to a high-level disaster.
You may ask yourself what hoarding is and why someone would choose to live that way.
The truth is, it’s complicated. Hoarding is a disorder that involves a variety of deep psychological issues. Depression, anxiety, OCD, PTSD, and other factors may contribute to the problem.
That means you’re confronting much more than the mess you see in front of you.
You are going to need a well-rounded approach to correct the problem.
If you’re concerned about a friend or family member who has started hoarding, you must understand why they are doing so and how best to approach them. The better you know why people hoard their belongings, the more likely you will be to find a solution that sticks.
Here are the potential dangers of hoarding and how you can help your loved one overcome these challenges.
Why do people hoard
Hoarding is a complex mental illness. It’s not as simple as not wanting to clean or refusing to throw away your things. That’s why it’s essential to understand the reasons why people hoard.
When you have a good grasp of the underlying causes of hoarding, you can assess what might be causing your family member or friend’s hoarding behavior.
Identifying the root causes will enable you to develop an appropriate solution.
We’ve compiled some of the most common reasons people hoard:
The feeling of being safe: Many situations cause us anxiety and stress in our lives, whether it’s a financial problem, losing someone close to us, or even feeling like we don’t have control over our surroundings.
While the average person may have a healthy mechanism for coping with feeling unsafe, a hoarder does not. So, they cling to their belongings to give them some semblance of security.
They may want to surround themselves with items that remind them of past experiences or loved ones who are no longer with them physically but still exist in their mind’s eye through photographs and other mementos from their past.
It could also be a matter of being afraid of needing something and not having it.
Maybe your loved one experienced excruciating hunger in the past and is now terrified of throwing away food. Or perhaps they experienced a traumatic loss that made it too difficult to let go of anything that provided a connection to the deceased person.
Feeling in control: Some people find that their possessions give them comfort because they are something that belongs exclusively to them. There are so many aspects of life that can be unpredictable. Having something that belongs to you and you alone may be reassuring.
It can provide a sense of normalcy in an otherwise chaotic world.
Others see hoarding things around as a way of keeping tabs on important information stored within those items (like old photos or receipts). They hold on to piles of old documents in case they need to refer back to them in the near or distant future.
Holding on to these items may give people a sense of control over their space. As if, if anything were to go wrong, at least they know they can count on that thing they’re hoarding.
In short, the act itself makes them feel more secure because they’ve got everything under control—even if only within their own home!
Because this mindset is usually rooted in trauma, it can be difficult for the hoarder to recognize the problem for what it is. To hoarders, everything is as it should be since they are stuck in survival mode.
That’s why hoarding can be so dangerous.
Hoarders will often become so attached to their stuff that they refuse to let go of it even when there is a clear risk to their wellbeing.
Potential Dangers of Hoarding
Health Hazards: A person with hoarding disorder may be more likely to become sick due to the conditions in their home, such as high levels of dust, mold, and dirt. They may also be more likely to contract an infectious disease from pests that have infested their home.
Pest Infestations: The massive amounts of clutter in a hoarder’s home act as the perfect breeding grounds for pests. Hoarders could live among rats, roaches, bedbugs, termites, spiders, fleas—you name it! The diseases that pests carry can pose extreme threats to your health. Having pest infestations can also do a lot of damage to your sanity.
Physical Injury: The clutter in a hoarder’s house can lead to trips and falls. Tripping hazards are the most dangerous for older adults. They are at a higher risk of falling due to age-related changes in balance and mobility. The unsanitary conditions in a hoarder’s home can quickly turn an injury into a nasty infection.
Fire Hazards: There is also an increased chance that excess materials could catch fire or explode. Unsafe storage practices like putting flammable substances into stacks of airtight containers may be to blame. Or maybe that pile of papers is too close to the stove.
The saddest part about these fire hazards is what happens during an emergency.
Responders are often not able to access hoarders’ homes easily because of the clutter blocking off their windows and doors. It can have a severe impact on the success of a rescue.
How to Avoid the Dangers of Hoarding
It is essential to seek professional help to ensure a safe and healthy environment for yourself and your loved ones.
An experienced professional can assist you in recognizing the signs of hoarding, identifying underlying issues that may be contributing to it, and providing you with strategies for coping with these issues.
Hoarders need support from people who care. A family member may also be able to provide valuable insight into what is driving the hoarding behavior. They can also provide a safe environment for that person to heal as they work through their struggles.
Friends make a great support system, too. They can offer some emotional support as you work through these challenges together. This type of assistance is critical if other people are living nearby—like roommates or family members—to whom health concerns related to hoarding might pose a risk (e.g., fire hazards).
Adopting healthier habits is crucial. Your loved one’s hoarding is not going to change overnight. So, you will have to work with them as they learn the problem-solving skills they need to recover. In the meantime, you may consider temporarily relocating them to a safer environment, depending on how bad the situation is.
Getting Help from The Professionals
If you have hoarding problems, it is essential to seek professional help. Hoarding is complex and requires someone with knowledge and experience to resolve. We at Hoarders911 offer a comprehensive hoarding cleaning solution to help you regain control of your home.
Our 7 step process addresses any challenges you might be facing. We cover everything from clutter cleanup to repairing minor damage to the home.
Hoarders911 offers discreet junk hauling at the end of every service. We arrive in unmarked vehicles without uniforms to carry everything away in one shot. There will never be a mess piled up on your street. Your neighbors will never know we were even there.
Hoarding is a serious health and safety issue that needs to be addressed by the person experiencing it. If you or someone you know is hoarding, please seek professional help.
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