There is often a misconception that someone who hoards is a lazy or messy person. That couldn’t be farther from the truth. Most people have encountered a hoarder at some point in their lives. That neighbor who has so much stuff it’s spilling into the front yard. Or the relative who has so much clutter there are paths to get to the bathroom or kitchen. Those people weren’t ignoring their homes. They were suffering from a legitimate disorder known as hoarding disorder.

Hoarding Disorder

Hoarding disorder is an ongoing issue causing a person to be physically unable to let go of possessions, regardless of how ridiculous it may be to keep them. The disorder causes the sufferer to become deeply distressed at the mere thought of letting an item go, even if it is trash. This inability to purge causes an exorbitant amassing of stuff, most of which are of little or no value.

When the disorder becomes severe, the home is in a horrific state. Most, if not all, areas inside are uninhabitable. There are belongings everywhere. It’s not uncommon to see the entire bathroom filled with stuff from floor to ceiling, exits blocked, and hallways you can’t walk down. It also brings with it unbearable smells, relationship strain, and poor hygiene. It may seem hard to believe, but individuals with hoarding disorder typically have no idea they are hoarders. 

The Symptoms

The signs of hoarding disorder often begin during youth. As time progresses, this disorder increases in severity, finally showing itself fully during middle age. Unfortunately, most hoarding goes unchecked until the later stages because the early signs get missed if you’re not looking for them. It starts with hiding things away out of sight and slowly grows until there’s no place left to hide.

Be on the lookout for these signs and symptoms:

  • More belongings than there is space for
  • Areas become unusable due to clutter
  • Procrastination
  • Perfectionism
  • Trouble planning
  • Unable to get organized
  • Cannot let go of items
  • Feeling compelled to keep everything
  • Getting incredibly disturbed or upset at the thought of letting anything go

Five Stages

Hoarding has five distinct stages. Most visible signs aren’t detected until stage two or later.

1. Everything “seems” fine. Aside from struggling to let things go, there aren’t any standout clues at this point. There may not even be clutter present at this stage.

2. Signs begin to appear now. Clutter is visible around the home. Some of the walkways may be blocked. One exit or more is blocked, and the building is falling into disrepair. Odors begin to surface.

3. Things start to get very concerning in this stage. The odors in the air are becoming more profound, and there are bugs, rodents, and filth. Appliances broke, and the home has structural issues. Dirty laundry is mixed in with the clutter.

4. Hoarding becomes dangerous in stage four, with the home being in dramatic disrepair. There are sewage issues, mold, and mildew present here. Even more bugs and rodents are there. Most areas are virtually unusable. Blocked exits, no linens on beds, flammable chemicals are unsafely stored, and dirty dishes overflow the sink. Personal struggles advance with poor hygiene, lack of bathing, and mental health decline.

5. Intervention must occur at this stage for the person’s health and safety. The home itself is dangerous from poor maintenance. There is often a lack of water, power, and fire hazards are present. Clutter is floor to ceiling in every room with broken items, rotting food, and pet feces all over. Pests are rampant. There are dead pets or other animals in the home. A person in this stage is likely experiencing advanced depression.

Getting Help

Hoarding is a serious, psychological condition that requires professional help. It will take the actions of friends, neighbors, or family to intervene and get the afflicted individual the help they desperately need. Professional counseling will be required, which could take years depending on what stage of hoarding they are on. The home will also need a thorough cleaning. An everyday cleaning service cannot do the job. A professional biohazard cleaning service, like Eco Bear, is necessary to safely clean and disinfect the home. 

There are numerous resources out there for someone experiencing hoarding disorder. If you or someone you know is struggling with hoarding, consult help right away. The sooner, the better as it will only progress and get worse. Talk with a doctor, counselor, or social services about what options are available to treat the condition. There are sometimes state or federal programs available as well with little or no cost.

Eco Bear Biohazard Cleaning Company

Cleaning up a home experiencing a hoarding situation can be a daunting task. It can also be dangerous and threaten your health. Eco Bear will clean the home thoroughly and discreetly with all the necessary protective gear like gloves, shoe covers, masks, goggles, etc.

We know hoarding disorder is a struggle and often leaves the person or family feeling embarrassed. We understand the desire for privacy and compassion. We treat our customers with respect while we restore your home to a clean, safe living space.