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Image by Julia Joppien

Most of us think of clutter as a distraction and sometimes an impossible task to rectify. But it isn't clutter to someone with a hoarding disorder.


Hoarding does mean over-accumulating without the desire to let go. We all have something that we enjoy, like collecting, or that we think we might use our bags and boxes again someday. But these are conscious decisions we make and they are decisions that can change over time when having too much stuff causes us to become overwhelmed.


But to some, there is no rational explanation as to why things are kept and there is no issue that there is clutter that needs to be dealt with. In fact, many feel they are quite organized and can identify what they have. It is only when someone else sees it as a concern that it becomes an issue.


No one really knows what goes through the mind of someone we call hoarders. And, often, it isn't the person with the disorder who cries out for help. Recognizing there needs to be a change, at all, is usually a family member, friend, social worker, the city, or a therapist. They are the ones who have witnessed the state of a hoarder's home and feel it's necessary to do something to help improve the situation. Maybe they have noticed hazards that need to be addressed like too many pets, rodent or insect infestations, unsanitary conditions, too many obstructions, or risks of fire, all that could lead to physical harm or death.


When it is recognized that there needs to be some sort of intervention, professionals in many fields are available to come in and work to put the person with the disorder at ease. Persons who are truly hoarders do not generally see that there is a problem and are quite content in their surroundings. Having people, however concerned they may be, come into their homes and start throwing things away or accusing them of being irresponsible is harmful in itself. They just simply don't see things the way most of us do. Compare this to someone who has an addiction. No one is successful at getting the drug user or alcoholic into rehab unless they are ready to admit they need help. It is much the same with someone who has a hoarding disorder. Until they make the decision to change, they are perfectly happy continuing to live in what others call unclean or unsafe.


If you know someone who is a hoarder, call for help. Don't try to take on the task yourself. You will only be met with resistance that can distance them from you and result in little hope for change. Call a therapist who specializes in the disorder. Call a professional organizer who is experienced and will work with a therapist, the city, and family members to make a positive impact. It may mean it is necessary to find additional housing, provide emotional support, clear the home, and all that requires professionals who can pull together the necessary resources.


Be considerate, understanding, and compassionate. It is a situation that is difficult to relate to and trying is more frustrating than helpful.


For more information contact 606-547-9766 or 310-993-6326 and let us help you help them.


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