We all know someone in our lives who just can’t part ways with unnecessary belongings. Some people stuff their attic space with cardboard boxes full of junk. Others spread their items across multiple rooms. Regardless of the storage the tactics they may use, it is necessary to recognize when simple storage turns into full-blown hoarding. Confined space filled with hoarded items and supplies Identifying and addressing hoarding tendencies can be extremely difficult, especially when the hoarder in question is a close friend or relative. Where do you even start?
You could start by confronting them or throwing out some items they are reluctant to part with. Unfortunately, this won’t address the underlying hoarding disorder, which is the root of the problem. Additionally, think about how emotionally draining a confrontation is for a hoarder. They likely find safety and comfort in their belongings, so threatening to remove these items can seem like a personal attack. You can’t start helping a hoarder if you don’t know the signs to look out for. Most people with long-term mental struggles develop ways to hide or downplay them. Thankfully, hoarding behaviors become more apparent as time goes on. There is a clear difference between messy homeowners and those who suffer from hoarding disorder.
Hoarding Disorder Definition
Before you plan any intervention, you should understand what a hoarding disorder is.
The American Psychiatric Association defines hoarding disorder like this: “People with hoarding disorder have persistent difficulty getting rid of or parting with possessions due to a perceived need to save the items. Attempts to part with possessions create considerable distress and lead to decisions to save them. The resulting clutter disrupts the ability to use living spaces.” The key takeaways from this definition are the distressing feelings when parting with items and disrupting common living spaces. Hoarding disorders go further than just clutter around the house.
Difference Between Hoarding & Collecting
Although people with a hoarding disorder may refer to themselves as collectors, hoarding and collecting are fundamentally different. You may not initially realize this difference, especially in cases where good-intentioned collections spiral into unhealthy behaviors.
Collections are healthy hobbies that hold obvious intrinsic or extrinsic value. The phrase “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure” only holds true when there is a clear explanation of the item’s value. Make sure you understand the critical differences between collecting and hoarding. You wouldn’t want to accuse a collector of hoarding (and vice versa).
Here are some general distinctions between both: Collections are usually:
*Hoarded items are usually:
*Out of Control
Hallmarks of Hoarding Disorder
Woman and Men struggling in a confined space that is taken up with hoarded items, Hoarding can be a delicate issue for both you and the person affected. You may find it difficult to properly diagnose a hoarding disorder without asking offensive questions. To help you out, here are a few more behavioral hallmarks to examine.
Difficulty parting with items of no value
It’s hard to determine what items hold value since they are perceived differently from person to person. To help assess hoarding tendencies, look for clear cases of valueless things. The term “valueless” is not meant to put down those who find value in these items. It’s essential to recognize that a hoarder’s emotional attachments are valid but possibly misplaced. For example, some hoarders try to justify keeping items typically seen as trash. They may either think they could have use for them in the future or hold an emotional attachment to these items that spark good memories. Use extreme cases to help you identify compulsive hoarding. If the person in question does not wish to part with these “valueless” items, this can be a tell-tell sign of an underlying hoarding disorder.
Emotional Stress when getting rid of items
Attempts to remove items can often lead to bouts of extreme emotional distress. You may want to give up because the last thing you want to do is ruin a loved one’s mental health. For now, just take note when removal attempts lead to emotional stress. Underlying mental health issues can amplify this response. Make sure to diffuse hostile situations and remind them that you love/care about them.
Finding safety and comfort from items: Unfortunately, hoarders tend to find their safety and comfort in cluttered possessions. These tendencies can appear in the aftermath of a traumatic experience, such as the death of a spouse or family member. For some, these events are the root cause of hoarding issues. For others, traumatic events lead to an increase in the scope or severity of hoarding behavior. It’s important to show them love and support regardless of the reasoning.
Living space may be too cluttered to move freely: Walking space is the litmus test for hoarding disorder. If there isn’t enough room for you to move freely from room to room due to the hoarder’s possessions taking up too much space, then it’s safe to say that they likely have a severe issue. History of depression, anxiety, or substance abuse Mental disorders, severe mental illness, and substance abuse are closely related. For example, someone who suffers from depression can also develop anxiety or addiction. This phenomenon is also true when it comes to hoarding. Preliminary issues can influence the negative behaviors that lead to excessive hoarding.
How to Approach a Hoarder
Family intervention for person struggling with hoarding disorder as stated earlier, hoarders often hold an exaggerated emotional attachment to their items. This can make it extremely difficult for family members and friends who wish to help.
You never know what particular item will invoke this emotional reaction. Something as trivial as a thumbtack could mean the world to a struggling hoarder. It’s vital to address hoarding symptoms with legitimacy without justifying hoarding behavior. You don’t want to make them feel like they are crazy, because they are not. Hoarding disorder is relatively common, and a diagnosis does not take away from them as people. As difficult as the process can be, you should approach the hoarder in your life before the situation becomes a concern for physical safety. Here are some methods to use to implement some tough love.
Focus on Open Communication: Open communication is the most effective way to promote positive change in others’ lives. Here’s an example to show the difference between open and closed communication. You encounter two salespeople that want to change your opinions on a brand. One of them follows a scripted pitch and gets argumentative when you counter their points. The other salesperson conducts a flexible conversation and asks for your input on each topic covered. Which do you think will have better success at changing your opinion? Open communication is the more effective strategy for changing people’s mindsets. Sure, some people are more stubborn than others. Even if they don’t wholly agree with you, open conversations prompt hoarders to think about their often ignore questions. Inclusive conversations show that you care about the other person enough to hear them out. Your goal is to help, not to hurt. Make sure to remain respectful of their opinions. There will likely be some forms of pushback. Sometimes, hoarders can get defensive and interpret the conversation as a direct attack. You can use open discussions to help validate their feelings, which can help them lower their guard.
When its time to clean
Two boxes to separate items to keep and items to throw away while cleaning house It would be best to wait to start cleaning until you find a treatment option that works for the person with a hoarding disorder. Remember, even though the treatment options listed above are effective, it will take time and patience until they are ready to start decluttering. Throwing out clutter too quickly is one of the most common pitfalls of treating hoarding disorder. The last thing you want to do is ruin all the work they just put in to help your friend or family member. Instead, wait until they are ready to start cleaning up. Once they are, celebrate the small victories as you clean up.
How to clean up a hoarder house: Once your loved one is ready, it’s time to clean up their home.
First, make sure you have a team ready to help them with the job. The decluttering process can be overwhelming to those who have just begun their recovery journey. A proper support system will help keep things on track. Before you start, here are some tips to streamline your junk removal. Remove Trash First There will be plenty of time to decide on the items that tether the line between valuable and unnecessary. To make life easier for everyone, start with the things that have no value. Gradually remove these items to make room for sorting valuable items
Sort What to Keep and What to Get Rid Of: Next, you want to make a simple system to decide what to keep and get rid of. Keep both piles separate, and remove the “get rid of” pile as you need more room. Make sure the recovering hoarder has a say in what stays and what goes. Giving them some control will help them accept their new living situation. Give the recovering hoarder plenty of grace. Decluttering is a gradual process, and you will have multiple opportunities to continue narrowing down their items.
Focus on What is Valuable: At this point, you should have a much better idea of what is staying and what is leaving. If they still have too many items, conduct another decluttering process. You can be a little more selective this time around. Focus on the value of each item. Ask if each item is valuable to the person recovering from hoarding disorder. If it holds value, ask them why. Remember that everyone determines value differently. If they are insistent that a particular item holds enough value to keep, move on to the next thing.
Hiring a junk removal company
Removing the clutter from a house is hard enough, but now you have to figure out what to do with everything. Instead of spending days transporting these items to their respective disposal locations, why not hire a junk removal company? These companies specialize in junk removal. They have the tools, training, and experience to make quick work of your trash. Additionally, they can filter through recyclable items, which will reduce negative environmental impacts. Junk removal can be especially effective for hoarders with large objects or hoarders who may be reluctant to clean.
Golden State Junk Removal is here to help you with your hoarding situation. We understand that every hoarder cleanup situation is different. Some people with hoarding disorder are reluctant to remove all the clutter at one time. For these situations, we can take things day-by-day or room-by-room. In other cases, recovering hoarders may want to remove everything ASAP! For these situations, we can expedite our process to waste as little time as possible by tackling the entire house at once. Golden State Junk Removal has the experience with all different types of hoarding clean-outs. We understand that hoarding disorder is a complex issue that affects hoarders differently. That’s why we take care of everything for our customers. We want to remove these physical and emotional hazards so people can go back to living a happy and healthy life in their own homes. Contact Golden State junk removal now for a free no obligated estimate today!