I recently finished working on a clean-out involving a home owned by a "hoarder".
What is a hoarder, you ask?
A hoarder is a person who suffers from OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) a compulsive behavior wherein they are unable to control the amount of stuff they bring into their home and save. They continue to save and save until the clutter starts to create problems in living. It get's to the point where the possessions own them rather than the other way around.
Compulsive hoarding is thought to be present when the following criteria is met:
1. You accumulate and then have great difficulty discarding objects that most other people would consider useless or of limited value.
2. The clutter is so severe that it prevents or seriously limits the use of living spaces in the manner for which those spaces are intended.
3. The clutter, acquiring or difficulty dicarding causes significant impairment or distress.
The good news is, however, that compulsive hoarding is recognized as a diagnosable (and treatable) behavioral syndrome.
This is a complex condition that requires the support of family, friends, psychologist and professional organizer.
My role in my recent project, as a professional organizer, was to coordinate a plan and implement it with a team of assistants to systematically work through the home to clear it of it's excess and return the home back to where it is again functional and enjoyable.
Now that the "clean-out" has been completed, I will continue to work with my client to show her how to make choices and set limits as to what comes into the home. My work will be supplemented with the help of a psychologist to work with the client to get to the route of the problem. (In most cases, hoarding is triggered by a traumatic occurrence, i.e. death of a loved one, which brings on loneliness. The loneliness is then substituted with this uncontrollable desire to go to a store or garage sales or even, in some cases, trash dumps to bring items into the home to fill that void.)
The result of hoarding is that the person can no longer function in the home. The piles of possessions continue to grow in every room of the home until they cannot open the front door, walk down a hallway without stepping on piles of "stuff", climb the stairs, eat or cook in the kitchen or even use the shower or bathtub because they are filled with "stuff".
If you think that you or someone you know has the symptoms of hoarding, there is help. Contact A BETTER SPACE for more information.