Hoarders – A Difficult Lifestyle


Hoarders – Seldom Is Anything Thrown Away

A hoarder is a person who has a difficult time disposing of possessions. The person needs to save everything. It is distressful to the person at the thought of getting rid of any of their items. This leads to an excessive collection of things without any regard for their actual value. There are five levels of hoarders. Hoarders at the first level are relatively mild, where all doors and stairways in the home are accessible. The home shows normal household pet activity. There is light evidence of rodents or pests. Clutter is not excessive. The home shows housekeeping as well as safe and healthy sanitation. No odors are noticeable. As time passes, the number of items collected increases until some people reach level 5. 

Hoarders At Level 5

The hoarder living in the house has serious problems. The house has structural damage, which might include broken walls. Utilities, such as electricity or water, has been disconnected. There is not any sewer or septic system. There are fire hazards inside the house. Rodents are in plain sight. There is a visible infestation of insects. Mice, rats, and other critters are found running around the home. The occupant is unable to use the kitchen or bathroom due to clutter. Hoarders might sleep inside the house in a makeshift bed, or they may sleep outside. Human feces, rotting food, animal waste, and other decay are found throughout the home.

The Thinking Of A Hoarder

Hoarders have a difficult time disposing of their belongings. This includes magazines, newspapers, clothes, and food, to name a few. They have a concern, “What if I need them one day?” Or, the hoarder believes that they may throw something away that is valuable. The hoarder becomes anxious when attempting to discard something. They feel as though something is wrong with them and are confused about what they should do. The hoarder often is a compulsive buyer. They find it difficult to pass up a bargain. 

Reasons for Hoarding

A hoarder holds on to everything with the belief that an item will be useful to them or become valuable one day in the future. Other things have sentimental value. Some items they save for jogging their memory. They worry if they discard it that they will not remember a famous person or event. Hoarding is a disorder that may be present on its own or a symptom of another disorder. The hoarder is often associated with obsessive-compulsive personality disorder (OCPD) and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and depression. There are other symptoms related to hoarding, although these are less often. These include eating disorders, Prader-Willi syndrome, psychosis, or dementia. It has been reported that two to five percent of Americans may meet the criteria for being hoarders. Once you enter a hoarder’s home, if you can get inside, you will immediately know you have entered just that. A hoarder’s home is much different from a person who is a “slob” or who lives like a “pig.” Aside from a “more than cluttered home,” hoarding can put people’s health at risk. It also can damage families. It can affect surrounding neighborhoods. And it requires treatment to help the hoarder. A hoarder can be cured. The primary treatment is cognitive-behavioral therapy. Also, some therapists may prescribe medications, particularly if the hoarder is associated with anxiety or depression.

A hoarder lives a complicated life – it is not a chosen life! Please remember this if you have a family member or friend who you think is a hoarder, he or she needs help.