Most people, when asked, can think of several things in their home they don’t currently use and could recycle or throw away. Hoarders, on the other hand, have not only accumulated so many items they become a hazard to basic living and sanitation, but they are unable to throw any of the items away or give them to another.
Left unorganized and in piles both inside and outside the home, the material collects both dust and debris, damages the structure of the building, and becomes a breeding ground for mold, bacteria, insects, and other pests that add urine and feces to the piles. Such people are typically ashamed of how the space looks and not only don’t invite friends and family over to visit but don’t allow entrance to any repairman and simply let appliances along with the electrical and plumbing systems fall into disrepair, thus adding to the deterioration of the home.
Hoarding Takes Many Forms
Though the reasons for hoarding greatly vary, reasons including traumatic experiences, anxiety, and unresolved childhood issues among others, the items hoarded fall into several main categories and each have issues all their own:
Animal hoarding begins when someone owns more animals than they can care for with adequate shelter, food, and medical care. Such people see themselves as generous caregivers and loving pet owners but the lack of care and the condition the pets are kept in are dangerous both to the animals and the people themselves. The number of animals then gets out of control when the person continues to accumulate more or the animals reproduce. Without adequate care, these creatures then become sick, die, and leave urine and feces around the home, eroding the structure and attracting pests and bacteria.
People who hoard trash collect items of no inherent value, sentimentality, or functionality. This garbage then collects, blocks the regular use of their space, and collects mold, bacteria, and pests which greatly adds to the mess and the odor. In houses containing hoarded trash, the structures are often greatly deteriorated and the utilities have been shut off.
When people are missing something they value in their lives, some fill the void with shopping and the high that purchasing items can bring. However, by the time the items are brought home or are delivered, that high is greatly diminished or gone completely. The items then pile up in teetering stacks around the home to the point of overwhelming both the people living there and the structure itself.
People who hoard collectibles begin collecting items and then start expanding beyond their original intent by collecting items beyond the original idea. Over time, the collection spirals out of control and takes over the home. Unlike people who cull, carefully select, display, and treasure each item in their collection, people who hoard their collections no longer remember what items they have and there is no organization to the pile of items.
Though it’s a good idea to have some food stored in case of a natural disaster or other emergency, people who hoard food never think they have enough and buy more than they could ever consume. Most of the time, food expires before it’s ever eaten nor do people who hoard food care about expiration dates. The accumulation of spoiled goods quickly attracts pests and mold. Without this understanding of expiration dates, people may eat the expired food and become sick. One of the more difficult aspects of food hoarding it to help the hoarder by purging what they’ve accumulated and convincing them it’s unsafe to eat.
Hoarders of Recyclables
Accumulating recycling, though it starts with good intentions, ends with an overwhelming mess when objects are never removed or dealt with. Though people want to recycle or reuse the items in some way, they never take the items to the recycling center or finish the projects. The accumulated amount of material then infringes on daily living and the health of those in the home. Though people who hoard recycling and items to fix want to preserve the earth’s resources, as items pile up in their homes and get in the way of functionality, it then crosses the line into hoarding.
Hoarding Books and Magazines
People who hoard books are usually highly intelligent and may be in careers requiring a large amount of research. Though they love the quest for knowledge and see all the items as essential, they often know they would never be able to read all the material. The choice they face is that by letting something go, they believe they will also lose the knowledge within the pages and never be able to get it back. All these books and papers attract mold, dust, and the sheer weight of the material can damage the structure of the home.
No matter which type of material people hoard, they all create a dangerous situation for the people, animals, and structure whether through mold, pests, diseases, potential injuries, and fire. Though sometimes people realize what they are doing and ask for help, a lot of times, people are forced into cleaning up the property through legal action or pressure from family.
If you need help cleaning out a hoard, see our hoarding cleanup page or call us with any questions you may have.