I know someone with a hoarding problem, but they don’t recognise that it’s a problem. What can I do to help?
This depends on a number of factors – economic, social, physical, mental etc. – and each hoarding case is unique. To learn more please refer to Understanding Hoarding.
I know someone who wants to address their hoarding problem doesn’t know what to do. Can you suggest anything?
The best place to start is with your GP. The hoarding Icebreaker form has been developed as a tool to use for this. It has a series of questions to answer relating to the hoarding behaviours and can signpost the GP to where they can find out more information to help the person affected.
I am worried about the safety of someone with hoarding behaviours. What is the best way to approach this with them?
Bear in mind that the environment they are living in is something they have become accustomed to and they may not be able to recognize the safety issues. People can become “clutter blind” and do not see the impact their possessions may be having on them. Looking with them at the potential hazards and seeing if there are any small changes that can be made in order to make the environment safer is a great place to start. Explain to them that clutter on the stairs may cause them to fall, or that a back door that is blocked may stop them getting out in the event of a fire. You may be surprised by how well they respond.
Why do people hoard?
Each person’s reason is unique. They may have suffered from bereavement, deprived childhoods, loneliness, trauma, or some sense of loss which started the behaviours and then this has escalated over time. It may also be chronic disorganisation, and someone may just lack the skills to organize and manage their environment. The key thing to remember is that it is about the person and not about the stuff – see passed the possessions and look for the meaning in the mess.
How can I help someone I know with hoarding behaviours?
Sometime in our haste to fix the visible problem we forget to ask the person in need of help how they feel or what they need. Empower them to make the decisions and let them lead. Take baby steps.
Should I get a skip and just throw it all away?
Evidence suggests that, although this may appear to immediately deal with the problem, this can cause more harm than good. Working with someone gradually over a long period of time to address the hoarding, along with continual support is the proved route for lasting change.
Who can help and is there funding available?
This depends on where you are located and may be dependent on your financial situation. You will need to explore your local landscape to find out who may offer support. Some agencies who may help are social services, MIND, Age Concern, mental health team, voluntary organisations, hoarding practitioners.
Hoarding is a response to deprivation
Not necessarily although it is linked with those living through periods of deprivation. Researchers have found that in fact trauma, stressful life events, a sense of loss, grief, separation, relationship breakdown and/or bereavement can trigger hoarding tendencies.
People who acquire a lot of “stuff” are hoarders
It is possible to be a “pack-rat” and not be a hoarder. Excessive clutter, inability to use rooms and furniture for their intended function, interference with everyday living, and/or substantial distress are all symptoms of hoarding. Collecting and saving things does not make one a hoarder. As long as you have the space, it does not cause financial, emotional or physical distress to you or anyone else, and it not a safety hazard, saving and storing things for later use, “just in case” is common behaviour.
People who hoard are poor
Studies have shown that most hoarders have good, stable jobs and make a decent if not a good living. Hoarding often causes financial hardship because of the associated spending habits. These habits can lead to bankruptcy and even homelessness.
People who hoard are uneducated
This is a myth. People who hoard are often quite intelligent, articulate and engaged. Some hold advanced degrees and most are aware of, and often tormented by their conditions.
Collectors are hoarders
Having a collection does not necessarily make you a hoarder. Most collectors take pride in the objects they collect. They take steps to keep them from harm or decay and enjoy showing them off.
People who hoard can’t stop
As with every compulsive behaviour, most people can reduce the habit when they become committed to changing and when they receive appropriate, responsible assistance and support.
A weekend “cleanout” is the best way to address hoarding
For many people, a forced or too-fast cleanout is just as traumatizing as involuntary surgery. Hoarding is a mental illness. Removing or destroying items can stir up the same emotions and reactions as losing a loved one.
People who hoard don’t mind clutter and dirt
Many are so bothered by it that they Just mentally block it out. When the person is no longer able to look past the mess, it might be a sign that s/he wants to change.
Hoarding is extreme disorganisation
Hoarding and disorganisation are two distinct things. Some people who hoard are in fact quite organized. Hoarding is not about the stuff—it’s about the person’s attachments to the stuff.
Is hoarding a mental health disorder?
Hoarding became a recognised mental disorder and in May 2013 was included in the updated revised manual, called the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders and abbreviated as the DSM http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2012/12/02/final-dsm-5-approved-by-american-psychiatric-association/
What is churning?
Churning is the act of moving items from one place to another without dealing with those items.
How are we funded?
We are funded directly by clients; through housing associations; donations from local and national charities, companies, organisations and private individuals.