When it comes to hoarding and issues surrounding it, there can be some confusion regarding different words and processes. One of these areas of confusion surrounds the term hoarding itself and squalor. At first blush, you may be among many individuals you really think that hoarding and squalor are words used to described essentially the same type of situation.
The fact is that the terms hoarding and squalor are not the same or synonymous. Hoarding and squalor or squalid living conditions can be connected or intertwined in a particular situation involving a hoarder. However and again, they are not one and the same.
In discussing the difference between hoarding and squalor, this article addresses three specific topics:
- Definition of hoarding
- Definition of squalor
- Hoarding situation thar results in squalor
Definition of Hoarding
The world-renowned Mayo Clinic has been on the forefront of treating people who hoard. The Mayo Clinic explains that hoarding can rise to the level of being a recognized mental health condition. According to the Mayo Clinic, hoarding disorder is:
A persistent difficulty discarding or parting with possessions because of a perceived need to save them. A person with hoarding disorder experiences distress at the thought of getting rid of the items. Excessive accumulation of items, regardless of actual value, occurs.
Hoarding often creates such cramped living conditions that homes may be filled to capacity, with only narrow pathways winding through stacks of clutter. Countertops, sinks, stoves, desks, stairways and virtually all other surfaces are usually piled with stuff. And when there’s no more room inside, the clutter may spread to the garage, vehicles, yard and other storage facilities.
The Mayo Clinic goes on to describe the more commonplace signs of hoarding disorder:
- Excessively acquiring items that are not needed or for which there’s no space
- Persistent difficulty throwing out or parting with your things, regardless of actual value
- Feeling a need to save these items, and being upset by the thought of discarding them
- Building up of clutter to the point where rooms become unusable
- Having a tendency toward indecisiveness, perfectionism, avoidance, procrastination, and problems with planning and organizing
In addition to the signs of hoarding disorder, the Mayo Clinic has identified three primary risk factors that render a person more susceptible to becoming afflicted with this condition. These are:
- Personality. Many people who have hoarding disorder have a temperament that includes indecisiveness.
- 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.
In the final analysis, a person with hoarding disorder requires professional assistance in order to overcome the condition. Moreover, counseling or therapy needs to be ongoing to enhance the prospects that a person will not relapse into hoarding behavior. There are mental health specialists who focus their efforts on working with people diagnosed with hoarding disorder.
Definition of Squalor
Squalid conditions are those in which a home environment is unsanitary. A person with hoarding disorder may create a residential environment that is squalid – unsanitary – however, that is not always the case.
Squalor or a squalid situation oftentimes is one in which biohazards of different types are present. Biohazards are any biological materials (microorganisms, plants, animals, or their byproducts) that pose a threat to the health of living organisms.
In case of a hoarding situation that has devolved to involve squalor or squalid living conditions, examples of biohazardous materials might include:
- Human feces
- Human urine
- Animal feces
- Animal urine
- Rotting food
- Other forms of hazardous waste
How to Address a Hoarding Situation That Results in Squalor
The reality is that a biohazard poses a very real threat not only to a person with hoarding disorder who lives among the filth but also to any person or persons called upon to undertake biohazard cleanup. A person designated to undertake the cleanup of a squalid residence must have proper protective gear and understand how to safely and thoroughly remediate a biohazardous situation.
The fact is that most people simply do not have to cleanup biohazardous material during the course of their lifetimes. They understandably do not have the background nor the tools and resources necessary to undertake this type of endeavor.
The most appropriate way in which to address a hoarding situation that results in squalor is to engage the services of a biohazard remediation company like Eco Bear. A professional hoarder property cleanup company has a properly trained and equipped crew that can effectively and safely remediate even the most challenging biohazardous situation. The ultimate goal is to eliminate any trace of a biohazard and restore a residence to a completely healthy, safe, and fully livable condition.