Hoarding is far more commonplace than most people realize. In point of fact, determining precisely how many people in the United States are engaged in hoarding is impossible, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The fact is that many people who hoard are able to successfully conceal what they are doing – at least for some period of time. As a consequence, the CDC estimates that somewhere between 4 and 11 million people in the United States are hoarding at any juncture in time.
Hoarding Is a Recognized Mental Health Condition
In addition to understanding that hoarding is a widespread problem it is also important to recognize that it is a bona fide mental health condition. During the early years of the 21st century, hoarding became recognized medically as a mental health condition. It became technically known as hoarding disorder.
Prior to obtaining a designation as a specific mental health condition, hoarding was included under OCD or obsessive compulsive disorder. Pet hoarding is part of the broader classification of hoarding disorder. There are some schools of thought in the medical community that pet hoarding should be classified as its own, separate mental health condition.
Hoarding Doesn’t Cease on Its Own
If you have a family member with hoarding disorder, you simply cannot wish that condition away. The bottom line is that hoarding does not end on its own accord. A person with hoarding disorder does not wake up one morning and decide to clean up his or her home and cease engaging in the unchecked collection of items.
Prospects of Stopping Hoarding Alone
There are some isolated instances in which a person with hoarding disorder does make a decision to stop hoarding and clean up and clean out his or her home. It is extremely important to note that these cases are very, very few and very, very far between.
As a side note: Many of the instances in which a so-called hoarder stops hoarding and restores his or her home to a livable condition are not actually people afflicted with hoarding disorder. In fact, these are individuals who have very poor organizational skills or who lack the ability to take proper care of their living space. However, upon closer examination it becomes clear that these people do not meet the criteria of being afflicted with hoarding disorder.
A Team Approach … Is the Best Approach
Experience and research have resulted in the firm conclusion that a team approach to assisting a person with hoarding disorder is the best approach to aiding an individual in moving beyond living life as a hoarder. First and foremost, engaging the professional services of an experienced therapist or counselor is a crucial step in creating a team to aid a person to address hoarding disorder.
Understanding that your family member’s hoarding will not cease on its own, another type of professional you need to seriously consider engaging is a cleanup service. There are hoarder property cleanup specialists like Eco Bear that can prove invaluable in remediating a hoard. Professionals like the well-seasoned team at Eco Bear understand the intricate strategies that need to be employed in order to effectively, efficiently, and thoroughly undertake hoarder property cleanup. This includes understanding the sensibilities of your family member afflicted with hoarding disorder.
Examples of others that you will want to consider including on your family member’s hoarding solution team include:
- Other trusted family members and friends
- Clergy members if appropriate
- Organizational specialist
- Financial planner
Dealing With the Potential for Hoarding Relapse
Hoarding is a condition that has a potential for relapse. Indeed, in situations in which a mental health professional is not part of the team discussed a moment ago, odds of relapse into hoarding behavior tops 90 percent. Part of understanding that your family member’s hoarding won’t end on its own is recognizing the prospect for relapse into hoarding behavior.
The fact that the residence of a person with hoarding disorder is cleaned up and returned to a livable condition does not mean that the condition itself has been resolved or put into some kind of remission. Without dealing with the underlying causes and triggers, relapse into hoarding behavior is a near certainty.
In understanding that hoarding will not end on its own, the development of a relapse prevention plan for your family member is crucial. A relapse prevention plan for a person diagnosed with hoarding disorder is similar to that for an individual with substance use disorder (alcohol or drug abuse or addiction).
A mental health professional with a background in working with people with hoarding disorder is ideally suited to aid in the development of a comprehensive, meaningful relapse prevention plan. Bear in mind that an appropriate relapse prevention plan is uniquely crafted to address the specific needs, goals, and objectives of an individual diagnosed with hoarding disorder.