hoarder home with excessive items in it

Stages of Hoarding

Living through this pandemic has not been easy for anybody.  In addition to all the other issues, “being stuck” at home is a reality for many of us.  Pandemic fatigue is setting in as is cabin fever after a long year in our homes.  Remaining indoors for such a long period of time certainly has its drawbacks including the fact that stuff starts to accumulate around the house.  If you know somebody who seems to have let things accumulate too rapidly or the stuff piling up is questionable to you, you may live with a hoarder.  Hoarding is not a condition that occurs overnight. Hoarders acquire an excessive amount of belongings over time. This reminder article covers tips for identifying the stages of hoarding, as well as steps you can take to keep it from taking over the person’s home or life.

What is hoarding?

Hoarding is a serious mental condition in which a person has a problem with discarding possessions or other things because of an illogical need to keep them. Hoarding is different than collecting because collectors look for specific items that have value (either monetary or sentimental) and display them.  Hoarders can keep items ranging from knickknacks to trash. The effects are much deeper than the mess that arises in the home. There are safety concerns, as well as sanitary concerns in extreme cases. There are 5 stages of hoarding, and each is progressively more severe. If you suspect a family member is entering the stages of hoarding, consider talking to them directly and/or connecting them with a licensed mental health professional before the problem gets worse.

Level 1 Hoarding

It may be difficult to tell if this person is actually a hoarder, or just messy. This person has likely not amassed high-levels of clutter at this point, and their home is likely still very functional. For Level 1 Hoarding, signs include a person who has difficulty throwing items away and/or shops unreasonably for things they do not need. 

Level 2 Hoarding

Hoarders at this level will exhibit more obvious signs. For example, they may avoid letting friends or family enter their homes because of shame, stress, anxiety, or embarrassment. Other signs include at least one blocked exit due to hoarding, an appliance that is out of order but not repaired or discarded, a malfunctioning ventilation system that has been out of order for more than six months, clutter in the walkways throughout the home, limited housekeeping evidence, or light mildew in bathrooms or kitchens. 

Level 3 Hoarding

Individuals at this level may have poor personal hygiene and weight control problems. They are likely to express emotional distress when confronted with concerns about their home or lifestyle. Other signs include cluttered items outside the home, excessive number of pets, neglected living spaces, narrowed hallways, visible rodent, flea, or spider web infestations, at least one unusable bedroom or bathroom, and noticeable odors throughout the home. 

Level 4 Hoarding

Individuals experiencing Level 4 Hoarding likely have several unusable rooms, more than one blocked exit, rotting or spoiled food in the kitchen areas, sewage issues, and may even have structural damage to their homes that they have not addressed. 

Level 5 Hoarding

This is the most severe level of hoarding, and individuals at this stage may not even be able to live in their own home. These homes may have no electricity or running water, contain clutter on every surface, have noticeable human feces because the bathrooms are unusable, and most of or the entire home may be inaccessible. 

Hoarding Cleanup & Home Cleanouts in Swampscott, Peabody & Lynn, MA

If you suspect a friend or loved one is entering the stages of hoarding, seek help from a licensed mental health professional. If you need help cleaning up a home that has been inhabited by a hoarder, contact Flannery’s Handymen by calling (781) 775 – 9943 or filling out our online contact form!  We are able to help in most North Shore areas, so reach out and talk with us!

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