Clutter is in the eye of the beholder. Every home has some degree of clutter, whether it is knick-knacks on a shelf, books, papers, or hobby materials. Most people are able to keep their clutter under control. In homes with serious hoarding, however, there tends to be one or more rooms that cannot be used for their intended purpose because they are so heavily cluttered. This is a sign that intervention may be needed.
Hoarding: What it looks like
Hoarding is a pattern of excessive acquisition of objects in one’s living space. It is a form of mental illness, not limited to physical or mental stamina.
Signs that it’s more than just clutter:
Rooms and fixtures in the home too cluttered to be used for their intended purpose.
Profound difficulty deciding what to keep and what to discard.
An unrealistic perception of the intrinsic value of one’s belongings.
A cognitive disconnect or skewed perception of reality, not unlike that of a person with anorexia.
Deriving a sense of security and happiness from one’s clutter.
Choosing “stuff” over the people who care for them.
Why do people hoard?
Hoarders is a complex form of mental illness, not just poor housekeeping or time management. Hoarders suffer from a type of compulsive disorder and, as a result, find it much more difficult to manage their belongings. Hoarding is believed to be related to obsessive-compulsive disorders, although the exact causes and mechanisms are unknown.
Hoarders have profound difficulty deciding what to keep and what to discard and often have a skewed perception of the intrinsic value of their belongings. They feel a strong emotional bond with objects that most of us would only attribute to other humans or pets. Thus, hoarders find it significantly more difficult to let go of these objects and may experience grief when faced with their loss. Obsessive thoughts often plague hoarders and disposing of their 'possessions' can cause extreme anxiety. Loved ones may grow frustrated in their attempts to address hoarding issues, driving a wedge between hoarders and their families.
HouseWorks can help
HouseWorks has supported families in Greater Boston struggling with hoarding and heavy clutter for more than a decade. Oftentimes, it's best to bring in outside assistance with the training to help hoarders, people who know exactly how to keep your loved one safe and at ease with the cleaning process. Call HouseWorks at (617) 928-1010. We can walk you through it.