Dealing with a Hoarder

HoardingWow…dealing with a hoarder is hard work. Understanding the real “why” isn’t even the issue. It’s all the other things that can’t be found, explained or understood that is really draining.

Wondering where the important items are such as: a birth certificate, marriage certificate, social security care, Deed to the house, etc. is stressful – especially when they are needed in an emergency. It can be much easier to go to the Courthouse or County official to just get them replaced vs. trying to figure out where they are in the house.

You may be wondering about why I am writing about Hoarders – because I am dealing with a family member who is a true hoarder. I always had an idea that I would be the one who would have to deal with the situation – however, I didn’t think that it would happen this quickly.

So, What is compulsive hoarding? According to the International Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Foundation:

Compulsive hoarding includes ALL three of the following:
1. A person collects and keeps a lot of items, even things that appear useless or of little value to most people, and
2. These items clutter the living spaces and keep the person from using their rooms as they were intended, and
3. These items cause distress or problems in day-to-day activities.

The below statement helped me come to a realization in order to be able to deal with this family member: (According to Mayoclinic.org)

Hoarding disorder can affect anyone, regardless of age, sex or economic status. It’s not clear, though, how common hoarding disorder is. That’s partly because some people never seek treatment.

Risk factors include:

1. Age. Hoarding usually starts around ages 11 to 15, and it tends to get worse with age. Younger children may start saving items, such as broken toys, pencil nubs, outdated school papers and broken appliances. Hoarding is more common in older adults than in younger adults.

2. Personality. Many people who have hoarding disorder have a temperament that includes indecisiveness.

3. Family history. There is a strong association between having a family member who has hoarding disorder and having the disorder yourself.

Stressful life events. Some people develop hoarding disorder after experiencing a stressful life event that they had difficulty coping with, such as the death of a loved one, divorce, eviction or losing possessions in a fire.

Social isolation. People with hoarding disorder are typically socially withdrawn and isolated. In many cases, the hoarding leads to social isolation. But, on the other hand, some people may turn to the comfort of hoarding because they’re lonely.

While I don’t have any real answers yet, I’m working on staying calm and helping the family member through the storm. Sometimes I’m just amazed at the opportunities that God gives us to help others…I just remember that I shouldn’t ask why – I should step up to the plate and help however I can.

Do you know someone who is a Hoarder? Are you afraid that you are becoming a hoarder? Call us to talk about getting things under control now. We are there to help.

Linda Clevenger