Hoarding is the accumulation of objects or animals to the degree that the accumulation interferes with family life, health, property, neighbors, and work.
Excessive congestion poses health and safety risks within the home, and when it is reported as a health hazard to any of the various the municipal departments, calls would go out to professionals who deal with resolving hoarding situations.
Before the pandemic, I would work with clients living in such situations, along with their family members, social workers, health professionals, cleaning specialists, organizational teams, and city or municipal representatives. What is of prime importance to remember is that the person-who-hoards needs to be the one to understand that there is a problem and that the home needs to be put in a better order. The person-who-hoards is the one to make the decision on whether or not to accept assistance, and agree to bring a professional in to help resolve the physical consequences of hoarding.
More often than not, the people with hoarding issues that I worked for would only agree to professional services once there was a deadline imposed and a real threat of eviction. And only when the client was willing, and it was a collaborative effort, would I prepare a detailed contract to lead the process to get a person’s home back into a healthy and safe living environment and consequently avoid an eviction.
People who hoard often do so for the following reasons:
- Comfort and security, as the over-accumulation often provides them with a connection;
- Everything they value is of equal measure, and they have a fear of being wasteful;
- They feel like a rescuer, and collect and save things that are abandoned or in the trash;
- Anxiety, as they can be fearful of others getting hold of their private information;
- Cognitive issues, age, or physical limitations that affect their ability to maintain order;
- As a chronic reaction to one or a series of stressful events they’ve experienced.
If you want to learn more, I recommend you review The Clutter–Hoarding Scale®. It is an assessment measurement tool, developed by the Institute for Challenging Disorganization® (ICD®) to give professional organizers and related professionals definitive parameters related to health and safety.
You can access The ICD® Clutter–Hoarding Scale® document here from the ICD website: https://www.challengingdisorganization.org/clutter-hoarding-scale-
If you or someone you are helping wants to explore what services are available, I recommend reaching out to fully-insured organizing professionals in your area who have experience working with and for people who hoard. I am aware of two professional associations of professional organizers where one could start their search:
- Professional Organizers in Canada, https://www.organizersincanada.com
- Institute of Challenging Disorganization, https://www.challengingdisorganization.org
I work with teams for the clearing and cleaning of client’s homes. And am available to consult online to offer guidance to people-who-hoard, their representatives, and their families on the coordination of resources and effective ways to minimize risk and danger in the home.