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Everyone has stuff. And between home offices, kids, hobbies and collections of favorite items, you know how stuff can build up. Is it normal or is it hoarding? What is the difference? Here are some of the telltale signs your loved one may be suffering from hoarding that may help you differentiate.
One of the first signs of a hoarding disorder is a gradual buildup of clutter in living spaces of items for which there is no immediate need or space. Your loved one might think, “I could use this someday,” or “It’s on sale, so I had better grab several of them.”
Another sign is their difficulty in discarding items. People suffering from hoarding may keep the packaging from items purchased, pile up newspapers, thinking they’ll read them later, or salvage found items that they can potentially fix—but never do. These problems develop gradually over time, and are often hidden until the buildup becomes significant.
People with hoarding disorder may try to limit access to rooms in their home to hide the problem. Look for closed doors or excuses why you can’t enter a room. Your loved one might prevent you from entering the house altogether and may become uncomfortable having any visitors at all.
Your loved one may start decluttering a room, then get waylaid and never complete the task. Sometimes there are just too many decisions to be made and even the smallest organizational task can be overwhelming. They soon stop trying and the clutter builds up even more.
Is your loved one constantly misplacing their keys, their purse, or other needed items? When there is too much clutter and no organizational system, these items can easily get lost. The person may often be late because they can’t find what they need in order to get out the door.
People with hoarding tendencies like to see their things, and may be resistant to putting them away in closets, cabinets or boxes. Their items are likely stacked everywhere, and cover most horizontal surfaces. If you try to help organize or put things away, or even move items in order to sit in a chair, you may be scolded. Your loved one does not like to have his or her things touched.
Read our post: The Fire Dangers of Hoarding
Take a quick look at the closets and garage. Likely, they are filled to the brim. And often, your loved one may have one or more storage facilities outside of the home, like a shed, outbuilding or a paid storage unit.
Your loved one may be in debt, even without your knowing it, because of their compulsive need to buy. They’ll have good reasons why they needed to make a purchase, like a need to buy gifts for upcoming birthday or holiday celebration. But look outside of these gift purchases. Are the pantry and refrigerator overflowing with out-of-date foods? Are there stacks of unread books? Or unopened packages? Debt can also accumulate from the fees paid to outside storage facilities.
Related: The ICD Clutter-Hoarding Scale
“Hoarding disorder is a persistent difficulty discarding or parting with possessions because of a perceived need to save them,” reports the Mayo Clinic. “A person with hoarding disorder experiences distress at the thought of getting rid of the items and excessive accumulation of items, regardless of actual value, occurs.”
Cases may range from mild to severe, and can have from little to huge impact on someone’s life, or even affect day-to-day functioning. If you suspect that your loved one may be a hoarder, there may not be much you can do personally. Since hoarding disorder may stem from a mental or physiological condition, it could be time to get a trained behavioral or medical professional involved.
See our post: Hoarding is a Bigger Problem than Clearing Out Junk
When it’s time to clear out a home or donate items, 123JUNK can help. We understand the difficulties you can have with loved ones suffering from a hoarding disorder and truly care about assisting you. Give us a call and let’s talk about how we can help create a healthy and happy home environment for your loved one. To schedule your junk removal or cleanout services in Maryland, Washington, DC or Northern Virginia, contact 123JUNK at 1-800-364-5778.
–photo from The Mayo Clinic
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