Never Fear – Help For Hoarders Is Here

 

I’m Not A Hoarder – I’m Just A Pack Rat!

Who is responsible? Hoarder or pack rat? Either way, it's a HOARD!

What’s in a name?  Someone once said, “A rose by any other name may still have thorns!”  And, frankly, a “pack rat” is just a hoarder in disguise – to be absolutely honest about it!  Thus, even a pack rat can learn a thing or two by gleaning some tips in this help for hoarders!

 

Is Hoarding Common?

20 million hoarders in the U.S.A. do this at home.

Research has determined that 6 out of every 100 people in the United States are compulsive hoarders.  That doesn’t sound like much until you do the math – which means – in the U.S.A. – with a current population of over 330 million – there are almost 20 MILLION hoarders!  That’s MILLION with an “M” – averaging close to 400,000 hoarders in each and every one of the 50 states.

Some folks just find it beyond their ability to get rid of anything!  Hoarding stuff can make them feel more important –offer a feeling of security – and, even provide companionship and prevent loneliness.

So – yeah – hoarding is all too common!

 

Is Hoarding A Mental Illness Or Just Plain Laziness?

Personally, from what I’ve seen, hoarding is, for the most part, some combination of both – mental illness and laziness.

It’s on a sliding scale.

At one end of the spectrum – if the hoard is mostly tons of store bought stuff – clothing, memorabilia, furniture, and other doodads and things – or, an extreme number of pets – cats, dogs, farm animals, or other creatures – and no appreciable amount of trash thrown all over the place, it falls squarely under the Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) umbrella – with little or no lazy component.

A hoarded, unsanitary kitchen. Don't prepare food here!

But, as the percentage of obvious trash rises in the hoard – such as:

  • Human and animal waste [fecal and urine] – including the waste of any rats that have made their homes in the hoard.
  • Rotting and spoiled food – on counters, floors, nooks, and crannies.
  • Empty containers – food packages, bottles, cans, cardboard boxes, plastic totes, gas cans, etc.
  • Chunks of metal – tools and equipment that may be rusted or do not function – old magazines, newspapers, and discarded scraps of paper and plastic.
  • Spiders, roaches, flies, maggots, and other insects that should be outside – not cohabitating alongside you in the house.
  • An overabundance of dust, cobwebs, spider webs, and dust bunnies – grabbing onto every possible surface – because they can’t be reached through the hoard – or, you don’t have the inclination to get rid of them.

This is confirmation of a significant element of laziness that has reared its ugly head.  Now, you have reached the other end of the sliding scale – and you can label it and you can own it – as 100% PURE UNADULTERATED LAZINESS.  And, no amount of denial – or blaming other people or events – can change that fact!

 

Hoarding Sure Ain’t Healthy – You Can Bank On That!

 

Don’t Fall – ‘Cause You Can’t Get Up!

There are trip hazards galore in a hoarded home.

Any amount of clutter that impairs movement through the house can be a safety hazard – creating the potential for falling – just being able to walk from point A to point B.  As that clutter accumulates and narrows the free walking space down to where there may only be a teeny, tiny narrow path, the trip hazard rises exponentially.

The end result of hoarding is you won’t even be able to access the kitchen for cooking – or, the bathroom for cleaning or relieving yourself.  Most likely, even your sleeping accommodations will be seriously lacking, too!  It is very common for hoarders to be sleeping right on top of the clutter / trash they’ve amassed.

Additionally, the bigger the hoard – the harder it is for you to be rescued in case of an emergency.

And, good luck trying to get someone to come and repair your plumbing, electricity, or one of your appliances.

 

Structural Damage WILL Happen – It is Inevitable!

Damaged light switch uncovered in a hoarded home.

Excessive clutter will mask many instances of serious structural damage that can occur in a hoarded house.

You may be able to see that hole in the ceiling but, how about the weak, rotting floor that is eating away at the core of your house – because all the trash covering it up keeps it from being noticed – before it is too late?  It doesn’t take long for spilled food and liquids to work their way down into the flooring and do damage – if they are not immediately cleaned up – which isn’t even possible in a hoarded house.

Don’t you also think that waste products from humans and animals that filter down to the floor will have a deleterious and disastrous effect?

At a minimum, it will obliterate carpeting and wooden floors –and, eventually, annihilate the support beams that keep the house standing!

How about the electrical wiring in the walls that is getting chewed on by rats living there?  There can never be a worse fire hazard than an electrical fire that could potentially get started inside the walls of your home!

 

Hoarders Get Sick More Frequently

Trashed out bathroom has germs a-plenty!

A great many hoarders find themselves under the weather more often than not.  And, the kids will suffer much more than the parents – since their immune systems are not as well established.

  • Rotting and spoiled food and drink will give rise to mildew, fungus and other poisonous food borne pathogens.
  • Salmonella and E.coli will run rampant and will be enhanced tremendously by the waste from pets and invading rats and cockroaches.
  • The air will be rife with accumulated dust, cobwebs, dust mites, mold spores, pet dander, rat / cockroach droppings, and other dirty, contaminated debris.  Asthma is a very real problem for people living in such a dirty house – and that is one of the gentler afflictions.  Many hoarders need oxygen tanks – just to breath every day.

I could go on – but, you get the picture.  All around, this is not a healthy situation for any living thing – human or animal!

 

What To Do?

Start by dedicating yourself to set aside at least 20 minutes a day – every day – as long as it takes – to actually – and seriously – address the problem.  Turn off that TV or computer – and take time to save your own life!

A clean bathroom is a top priority!A clean kitchen is a top priority!

 

 

 

 

 

Once you have a clear path through the house, begin clearing the most important rooms first – bathroom, bedroom, and kitchen.

The goal is to have a minimally functioning living space before tackling the rest of the house.

You need to be able to successfully access:

  • A sanitary and operational bathroom for personal cleanliness, hygiene, and bodily waste removal – including a clean and unplugged sink and toilet – and, hopefully, a bathtub and / or shower.  Don’t forget the soap, clean towels and washrags.
  • A spotlessly clean sleeping environment – which means the bedroom should be free of bugs and have clean sheets on an uncontaminated mattress – held above the floor in a bed frame.
  • A disinfected, standard equipped kitchen – with a working stove, and refrigerator – to prepare healthy meals – free of noxious food borne pathogens.  Add in a clean and unplugged sink and cabinets – to clean and store dishes, silverware, pots, and pans – and you can start living like a human being again.

 

Let’s Get Started!

  1. Select a small area in one room – possibly, a 5 foot square – to begin.
  2. Pick up 10 items and throw at least 9 of them into a trash bag.
  3. Repeat step 2 over and over again.  For 20 minutes every day.  Until the area is free of clutter.
  4. Don’t ever throw anything back down in the same place that you just cleaned – or any other place for that matter!  If you don’t have a drawer or closet to keep it in, toss it in the trash – directly!  Don’t look back and don’t second guess your decision!  And, for Heaven’s Sake – don’t stick it in a box and forget about it!  First, you’ll have 1 box crammed full of unnecessary stuff – then 2 – then 3 – and on and on – until you have a HOARD OF BOXES full of worthless junk!
  5. Move on to the next area and duplicate steps 1 through 4.  Until the room is completely free of clutter.
  6. Move on to the next room and duplicate steps 1 through 5.

See how easy this can be?  It all boils down to – you gotta start somewhere – as long as you take MORE steps forward than you take backward, the goal of a clean, clutter-free house can be – and, will be – achieved!  Just take a look at these before and after pictures to get an idea of what can be accomplished!

Living room - before and after pictures.

 

Kitchen - before and after pictures.

TIP

If you are having a hard time throwing things away, try a test.

Ask yourself, “When was the last time I used this?”  It doesn’t matter if it’s been invisible due to being buried under the hoard.  If you haven’t seen it – or used it – for a year or more, pitch it in the trash – and move on.  Remember the goal is to dig yourself out from under the mountain of accumulated crap that is a threat to your life.

 

Change Your Perspective

Try to look at your hoard from the viewpoint of someone else visiting your house.

  • Be honestly shocked and horrified at what you see.
  • Be concerned about the health and safety of the person living in these conditions.
  • What if that hoarder was your son – or daughter – or a sibling – or a parent – or a grandparent?  How would you feel?  You don’t want them living in this filth, do you?

Well, you should feel the same way, too, when it is YOU!  After all – shouldn’t YOU be the most important person to YOU?  Think about it!  If YOU don’t consider yourself worthy of such thought – then, no one else will, either!  Get the picture?

 

Some First-Rate Reading To Help Eliminate The Hoarder Mentality!

Buried in Treasures: Help For Compulsive Acquiring, Saving, And HoardingTreatment for Hoarding Disorder: Workbook

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Buried in Treasures: Help For Compulsive Acquiring, Saving, And Hoarding – Outlines a structured program of learning how to think about your stuff in a different way and how to successfully take small steps to manage the clutter and not let it manage you.  This book also contains some valuable insights for a hoarder’s family and friends to help them understand the depths of the problem.

Treatment for Hoarding Disorder: Workbook – Discusses the different relationships that hoarders have with “things” and how those things provide them with a sense of security or comfort or pleasure.  Offers useful ways to differentiate between what stuff is really important and how what you used to consider “important” is actually thinking in fantasy-land.  There are behavioral experiments to discover the hard truth about necessary possessions versus frivolous possessions – and some great ways to organize items in each room of the house.

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and OrganizingOvercoming Hoarding: A Self-Help Guide Using Cognitive Behavioral Techniques

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing – The author, Marie Kondo, is a renowned “tidying expert” – who has helped folks around the world to declutter their homes.  She touts, “…if you simplify and organize your home once, you will never have to do it again!”  She is listed as one of Time Magazine’s 100 most influential people.  Her book sits on top of the New York Times Best Seller List – and, has sold over 2 million copies – so, it must be having a very positive and beneficial effect on making people much neater and more organized!

Overcoming Hoarding: A Self-Help Guide Using Cognitive Behavioral Techniques – This treatise accurately defines the growing problem of hoarding disorders and gets into some key steps – using CBT – to alleviate the condition and help an individual recover and regain control of their life.

Decluttering at the Speed of Life: Winning Your Never-Ending Battle with StuffCompulsive Hoarding: Self Help ~ The Ultimate Guide to Help You Stop Hoarding and Defeat Hoarding Disorder Once and For All

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Decluttering at the Speed of Life: Winning Your Never-Ending Battle with Stuff – Author Dana White is a decluttering expert and talks about the mindset and emotional challenges that hoarders have – that make it difficult for them to declutter.  Using a smidgen of humor, Ms. White puts forth common sense workable solutions for real life – going room by room – to break through the “decluttering delusions.”  She offers pointers on making the habit of decluttering more natural and being able to do it in less time – with less emotion.  There is also a section for how to help others who are afflicted with the hoarding disorder.

Compulsive Hoarding: Self Help ~ The Ultimate Guide to Help You Stop Hoarding and Defeat Hoarding Disorder Once and For All – This is all about how hoarding can be extremely detrimental to both physical and mental well-being.  Interspersed throughout the book are innovative ways to take back control of your life and to successfully live a healthier, happier, and clutter-free existence.From Hoarding to Hope: Understanding People Who Hoard and How To Help Them

From Hoarding to Hope: Understanding People Who Hoard and How To Help Them – Geralin Thomas put together this guidebook for use by anyone dealing with a hoarder – to give them the tools to utilize a compassionate and comprehensive approach for understanding the hoarder disorder and the hoarder tendencies.  Ms. Thomas was a featured organizer on numerous A&E “Hoarders” TV show episodes – in which she displayed her skills in nurturing hoarders to take part in the decluttering and organizing process.  She gives real world examples and useful strategies to help transition “from hoarding to hope.”

 

So, Get With The Program

If you have fallen victim to the “hold on to everything” mentality – whether through experiencing OCD – or, just a habit of being too sluggish and lethargic – all right – I mean just plain lazy – then it’s time to make a positive change in your life that this “help for hoarders” is designed to spur you on to.

So – get with it!  Get with the program!  Become a healthier – and more productive – and a happier human being.  And, declutter your domicile!

BIG TIP

When you start decluttering the kitchen, you will be interested in my post:

Organize The Kitchen Cabinets With Some Sliding Shelves

 

Got any clutter stories or decluttering ideas?  Comment below or email me, noah@apathtoabetterlife.com.

 

Noah

Lookin’ On The Lightside

6 thoughts on “Never Fear – Help For Hoarders Is Here

  1. Love Yourself Reply

    What an incredibly interesting article.  I am not a hoarder, but I am absolutely fascinated with the psychology behind why individuals reach the stage of living in the conditions that they do – as your pictures clearly illustrate.  I am in no way judging, but strangely enough it fills me with anxiety.  

    I wonder for people who want to “de-clutter” but don’t know where to even start – are there volunteering programmes where people could go in and assist them?

    • Noah Post authorReply

      I can put up with a certain amount of clutter – but, I guess I have an internal safety valve that pops when that clutter starts to take over my living space.

      Maybe hoarders have valves that no longer function and need replaced.

      Many churches have volunteer hoarding helper programs that coordinate with the severely afflicted victims and help them get their life back on track.  This would be a good place to start if you are truly interested in being a part of their cure!

      Noah

  2. C Reply

    Thank you for this great article. A lot of people struggle with hoarding and this will help them tremendously. Every day people are searching google for help with hoarding and I hope they find your article. Hoarding can become more of an extreme problem in some cases and then it goes from being uncomfortable, to being really necessary to seek help. 

    I like what you said about it. Hoarding can come from financial scarcity. For example, if you are afraid you’ll never be able to replace certain things, you’ll hoard them. If you had the money, you wouldn’t keep old stuff around that you don’t use. Why? Because you’d know you could replace it if you ever needed it. 

    I also wanted to add that sometimes hoarding can be a symptom of being too busy. When you have too much going on in your life, you don’t have the time to sort things, so you just throw them in a pile. When you are always rushed, then you just throw things wherever they land without really feeling like there’s time to maintain your organization. So, sometimes it actually comes from overdoing, rather than underdoing.

    Great article. Very helpful pictures. You  brought it from defining and understanding the issue, to a solution. Great! 

    • Noah Post authorReply

      It is mind boggling to learn how many folks struggle with hoarding issues day to day!

      Hoarding can easily start out by being “too busy” – and getting home from work so completely exhausted that all folks want to do is drop into a chair and not move until tomorrow.  Moving a piece of trash from the floor to the wastebasket is the last thing on their mind.

      But, to keep from drowning under an avalanche of unnecessary stuff, we really have to make an “old college try” to nip such behaviors in the bud – and take even 5 or 10 minutes to tidy up a bit.

      Noah

  3. Mariam Reply

    I’m really glad i came across  this post. I didn’t know this behavior could be a really serious problem and even has a name! (OCD) While still reading the post, i thought more of how not to continue with the habit even after tidying the space. And then i got to the ‘Let’s get Started’ section. I found my answer there. I have a bit of a problem with placing things exactly where they were picked from. I find that, even after tidying up, somehow, somehow, the place just gets scattered again. It just feels tiring to arrange all the time.

    Does tidying come naturally to some people? *i need to know*..lol

    • Noah Post authorReply

      Hi Mariam,

      Until I spent an inordinate amount of time researching hoarding and OCD, the seriousness of the problem didn’t get driven home in my mind, either.

      I’m glad you found the answers you were looking for.  Organization is the key to successfully de-cluttering your environment!

      People who are taught how to clean – from childhood – tend to be much better at organizing and keeping their places neat and clean.  But, it is a learned response.  As fallible humans, I surmise that our natural tendencies are to “let things go” – until the mess reaches the breaking point – or longer…

      Noah

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