Hoarding is where a person has difficulty throwing away possessions because they have a constant need to save them. A person that hoards or obsessively collects things is stressed at just the thought of having to get rid of almost any item in their home. They accumulate these things, regardless of the real value.
Hoarding creates incredible stress when their living space no longer allows for the hoarder to sleep in a bed or have any counter space and their home usually gets to the point where it is no longer livable. There are times in extreme cases where there is nothing more than paths all through the home for them to walk.
In the most severe cases, the hoarding can extend to garage, basement and even vehicles outside the home. There are different degrees of the condition ranging from mild to excessive or severe.
Most people with this disorder may not think it’s a problem. When this occurs, it becomes very hard to get them to have their living space put back into a safe living environment. People with a hoarding condition can be treated but they need to be convinced that it is in their best interest to do so. In many cases, the threat of being taken from their homes is the only stimulus to get them to act.
What to Look For
When you see your loved one start to gradually build up stores of items that we all know doesn’t present an emergency if they might run out. This condition can show up as early as their teen years or early adulthood.
As the person ages, they typically start collecting things that has no immediate need and nor do they have the space to store it. Problems with hoarding tend to be a very private thing where relatives and friends are never allowed in their living space. It is very common to hear family members say that they haven’t been over to their house in 10 to 20 years.
The hoarding of animals is very common. When this happens, the safety of the animal and the hoarder are at risk. The living conditions deteriorate to the point of animal feces all over the home creating a very unhealthy environment.
When you become aware of these conditions it’s good to call your family doctor and look for a referral to a professional that specializes in this type of condition. In some communities, social services can help and you may very well need them to get involved because, in the most severe cases, you will need to get a policeman and the city or town official to be there to force the person to act for their own good.