how to help a hoarder
9 Types of Hoarding You Need to Know About
Compulsive hoarding is a behavioral disorder that can present itself in many ways. The one thing that all types of hoarding have in common is that the people dealing with hoarding feel a compulsion to gather items and feel extreme distress at losing them. This often leads to poor sanitation, fire risks, and other issues, so it is important to get hoarding cleanup help as soon as possible. Since hoarding comes in many forms, it can be hard to recognize and address it. Here is what you need to know about the most common types of hoarding.
Plenty of people love pets and have an unusually high amount of pets, but animal hoarders take this to a whole new level. Small pets like cats, dogs, or birds are the most commonly hoarded animals, but in some cases, the hoarding may include livestock, reptiles, or other more unusual animals.
Hoarders have far too many pets to take care of them properly. Animals are not always properly fed and medicated, and it is fairly common for hoarders to stop bothering with removing waste that the pets leave inside the home. If the pets die, some hoarders may not remove the corpses. In these situations, disease, infection, and mold run rampant. Even though they are unable to take care of the animals, hoarders will continue to adopt or buy more pets, and they may breed their current animals to make more.
Animal hoarding is particularly dangerous because it leads to such heavily unsanitary conditions for humans and unsafe conditions for animals. It is important to remember that people in this situation are not being intentionally cruel. Those who hoard animals suffer from a type of delusion disorder where they do not realize their animals are mistreated.
There can be a very fine line between hoarding and collecting. People who struggle with collector hoarding pick a subject, such as toy cars or snowglobes, and then they try to hold onto as many of these items as possible. Unlike the average collector, hoarders typically keep anything related even slightly to their topic of interest.
Another big difference between collecting and hoarding tends to be that collectors are very tidy and want to display their collections to others. The compulsions and obsessions associated with hoarding tend to make people feel ashamed or embarrassed of their collections. Hoarders tend to accumulate items for the joy of possession instead of display, so they often get jumbled up together until the hoarder is not even aware of how much they have.
Often, this style of hoarding starts out as a usual collection. However, those who have other mental issues like depression, anxiety issues, dependence disorders, or attachment disorders may gradually move towards hoarding behaviors as a coping method. Dealing with these cases can be quite tricky because the hoarder believes they are just an average collector. Since they do not see anything abnormal about their behavior, they are less willing to seek help.
Extreme hoarding is often the type of hoarding people think of when they consider this disorder. It is the hoarding style frequently shown on reality television shows because it is quite dramatic looking. People who struggle with compulsive hoarding all tend to hold onto large quantities of items and may have one or more parts of their home that are inaccessible due to the clutter. However, those who have extreme hoarding take it even farther.
The houses of extreme hoarders tend to be filled with giant piles of hoarded objects that make almost every room useless. People may not have beds to sleep in or kitchens they can use to make food because every surface is stacked with items. Like all hoarders, extreme hoarders often feel embarassed by the clutter, and since it has taken over their entire home, they are unable to let friends, family members, or repair people into their homes.
Extreme hoarders have the highest risks of being injured due to their hoarding. Large stacks of items may fall on a hoarder, trapping them or severely harming them. The overwhelmingly large piles of objects are often a breeding ground for mold, roaches, and other pests that can cause illnesses in humans.
There are all sorts of people who store up a little extra food just in case of an emergency. However, those predisposed to hoarding may start having compulsions about keeping food. Food hoarders have so much stored food that the people in their household could not reasonably consume it over the course of several years.
Even though they may already have cabinets, fridges, and additional freezers stuffed with food, they are constantly going shopping and returning with more. Food hoarders often refuse to throw out food because they think they might still need it one day. This can lead to an accumulation of expired or rotten food that attracts pests, ruins parts of the house, and is physically unsafe to live with.
People who struggle with food hoarding often have some past trauma linked to fears of wasting food or fears of not having enough food. If someone removes a lot of the food from their home, they can suffer from intense anxiety. Even the thought of throwing out expired food or giving away extra food to those in need can be almost unbearable for a food hoarder.
Not all types of hoarding are related to hoarders thinking they will eventually need an item. Over-sentimental hoarding is a less common type of hoarding where a person will not get rid of objects because they see almost everything a sentimental memento.
People who are sentimental hoarders tend to attach emotion to objects. In their relationships with others, they may give gifts to express their love and greatly treasure even small items related to their loved ones. Every item they own tends to be linked to some special memory, and they worry that getting rid of the item is like rejecting or erasing that memory.
This type of hoarding can be particularly challenging because almost any item may have sentimental attachments. People may hold on to receipts from meals with loved ones, rocks they picked up on vacation, or other random objects. Their homes often appear to look like they have piles of trash, but trying to throw anything out will be met with a huge outcry.
Paper and Book Hoarding
The types of objects hoarded by someone in this position can be just about anything made from paper. Some hoarders may have stacks of newspapers dating back for years while others never throw out junk mail. Books, pamphlets, magazines, receipts, and other paper items may also be hoarded. Paper and book hoarding can present itself as fairly tidy stacks that cover an entire home, or it can look like giant piles of everything that a hoarder saves.
When confronted about this style of hoarding, hoarders tend to justify their behavior by saying they plan to use the objects in research. In some cases, paper hoarding can overlap with sentimental hoarding. People may want to save things like newspapers because they have good memories attached to the date the paper was printed. They may also have fears of having financial or legal issues if they get rid of paper items like receipts or bank statements.
A particularly big concern for paper hoarders tends to be fire. People who live in these circumstances are in danger if any electrical sparks, candles, or overheated appliances get near all the paper. Over time, paper tends to absorb dampness and grow mold. This can result in respiratory problems for people who live in a home with paper hoarding.
The key motivation behind recycle hoarding is a fear of waste. Hoarders often have plans to haul in all of their hoarded items to a recycling factory, so they end up with piles of cardboard, plastic, and more. This can lead to a lot of dust and mold that impair air quality in the home. In cases where the hoarder is keeping empty food packages, there is an even bigger potential for unsanitary conditions to develop.
Not all recycle hoarders plan to use traditional recycle methods. Some of them try to hold onto broken or abused items because they have plans to fix the object and give it to someone who will appreciate it eventually. This can lead to piles of obsolete electronics, broken appliances, or torn clothing.
Unlike hoarders who want to hold onto objects for as long as possible, recyclers want to eventually pass their items on to other people. Unfortunately, when they are actually confronted with the idea of giving away the objects, they may find it fairly difficult. In some cases, recycling hoarders are happy to give items away, but they just accumulate items so quickly that they cannot find willing people to take their objects.
Being a shopaholic is normally seen as a harmless if slightly irresponsible behavior. However, it can become a major problem when a person with hoarding tendencies turns into a shopaholic. Unlike hoarders who just hold onto things they encounter in daily life, shopping hoarders actively seek out new things to purchase and hoard.
Some hoarders may go out daily to shop at yard sales and local stores, but many are turning to the internet to fuel their obsession. People who deal with shopping hoarding often feel like they are missing out if they do not buy something. They may point out the great price or suggest they can always return the object later if it does not work out. In many cases, shopping hoarders claim they have plans to sell the objects at a marked up price or give them to friends and family members.
Like other types of hoarding, the main problem with shopping hoarding is due to the massive accumulation of objects. They tend to end up with stacks of completely unused items that might still be in their shipping boxes. People who hoard like this tend to do so for the joy of bargain hunting and possessing more items.
Hoarder homes often seem to be loaded with trash until you look closer, but garbage hoarding is one of the rare cases where what looks like a pile of trash actually is garbage. People who deal with trash hoarding may not be able to discard their own waste, or they may actively go out and take items from other people's trash. In these cases, the hoarders tend to be somewhat delusional, so they mistakenly assign value to waste products. Like normal hoarders, they will get distressed at the idea of getting rid of their belongings.
This can eventually lead to piles of garbage stacked up in rooms of the house or huge clumps of garbage covered items stuck in random places. When the hoarding is this extreme, the house may be entirely unsafe for a person to live in. A big issue is that pests like rats and roaches are attracted to garbage. They can carry disease or leave behind waste that can make people seriously ill. The hoarded garbage can also be a breeding ground for bacteria that can make a person sick if they breathe it in or accidentally eat food tainted by the bacteria.
Get the Help You Need to Overcome Hoarding
Hoarding is more than just a mental danger. It can also lead to all sorts of biohazards and unsafe living situations that can be potentially life threatening. If you or a loved one is dealing with hoarding, we can help. We understand that hoarding is a sensitive topic, so we work with professionals who know how to deal with all the hazards of hoarding. Give us a call or fill out our contact form to learn more about the hoarding cleanup services we provide.
San Francisco Hoarding Clean Up is a Trauma Scene Waste Management Practitioner from the State of California Department of Public Health, is OSHA compliant and has a number of certifications.