Dealing With Hoarding
What is hoarding?
By definition hoarding is collecting or keeping large amounts of various items in a home due to strong urges to save them or distress experienced when discarding them. It is classified as a mental disorder that usually is the result of a traumatic event or a symptom of another disorder such as depression, dementia or obsessive compulsive disorder. It is most commonly found in older adults.
Many rooms in a hoarders house are so packed with items that the room cannot be used for its intended use. This makes normal everyday living compromised.
Hoarding can really be an issue in terms of safety and health. For one it can be a major fire hazard. In the event of a fire many occupants die due to the inability to escape the home because of blocked exits or even injuring themselves by tripping over items. Firefighters responding to a fire that is home to a a hoarder can be put at risk as well due to these obstructed exits and falling objects. It makes the search for occupants much harder and very risky. The weight of large amounts of piled up personal belongings along with the use of water to put out a fire can lead to a homes collapse.
Along with fire safety hazards hoarding can also be detrimental to health in the event of ignored or even unnoticed water leaks that can lead to mold growth. Many times a pile of various items can hide any issues that may be going on in the home since they are blocked out of sight. It can also attract pests and rodents that can gnaw away at materials like wiring causing further safety risks.
To prevent and respond to hoarding behavior be sure to be respectful when communicating with the individual. Instead of acknowledging the clutter focus on expressing safety concerns for not just themselves but for those around such as neighbors, family members, responders etc. The use of outside outlets to help with intervention can be beneficial and necessary.