Are you concerned about someone with an excessive amount of clutter? Perhaps you’re worried about their living conditions or maybe they need help moving. If you suspect your friend or family member may suffer from hoarding disorder, you’ll need help.
What Is Hoarding?
The extent to which someone hoards can vary significantly. According to the Institute for Challenging Disorganization (ICD), there are five levels. These five levels are determined by the degree of clutter in the following categories: structure and zoning, animals and pests, household functions, health and safety, and the need for personal protective equipment. The five levels on the ICD’s Clutter-Hoarding Scale are:
- Level 1: All doors and stairways are accessible, no odors, and home is safe and sanitary.
- Level 2: Clutter inhabits two or more rooms, light odors, overflowing garbage cans, light mildew in kitchens and bathrooms, one exit is blocked, some pet waste visible, and limited evidence of housekeeping.
- Level 3: One bedroom or bathroom is unusable, excessive dust, heavily soiled food prep areas, strong odors, excessive number of pets, and visible clutter outdoors.
- Level 4: Sewer backup, hazardous electrical wiring, flea infestation, rotting food, lice on bedding, and pet damage to home.
- Level 5: Rodent infestation, kitchen and bathroom unusable due to clutter, human and animal feces, and disconnected electrical and/or water service.
Levels 4 and 5 are considered hazardous to the health and safety of individuals. In those cases, a team of professionals, including mental health experts, are usually needed to address the situation. If you or a loved one are struggling with chronic disorganization or hoarding behavior that fits levels 1-3, a professional organizer can make a huge difference.
Looking for a professional organizer in the Washington DC area? Contact the compassionate experts at Potomac Concierge!
Signs & Symptoms of Hoarding
Hoarding affects people of all ages and demographics. It’s more prevalent in older age groups, and the symptoms increase with age. The signs your loved one may suffer from hoarding disorder may include the following symptoms and behavior:
- Inability to throw away possessions
- Severe anxiety when attempting to discard items
- Great difficulty organizing belongings
- Indecision about what to keep or where to put things
- Feeling overwhelmed or embarrassed by possessions
- Suspicion of other people touching items
- Fear of running out of an item or of needing it in the future
- Checking the trash for accidentally discarded objects
- Loss of living space/social isolation/family discord/financial stress/health hazards
Why Do People Hoard?
Stated reasons for hoarding vary. Some people believe that an item will eventually be needed. Others feel it has sentimental value, is unique or irreplaceable. Many people cannot part with something they feel was a great bargain. Certain hoarders may consider an item a reminder that will jog their memory of a person or event.
The Impact of Hoarding
The physical effects of hoarding are numerous. A lack of functional living space is the most common. Unhealthy or dangerous living conditions can be life-threatening. Some hoarders have broken appliances, lack of heat or air conditioning, electricity, and other comforts. Hoarding also has emotional effects including anger, resentment, and depression. Poor living conditions may lead to separation or divorce, eviction, and even loss of child custody.
Hoarder or Collector?
Hoarding is not the same as collecting. Collectors have a sense of pride about their possessions and they experience joy in displaying them. They tend to keep their collection organized, feel satisfaction when adding to it, and budget their time and money. Hoarders tend to feel embarrassment about their possessions and feel uncomfortable when others see them. They have excessive clutter and are often in debt.
Get Professional Organization Help in the DC Area
How can Potomac Concierge help you?
We cannot cure hoarding disorder, but our professional organizers are experts and have experience with excessive clutter and hoarding. Whether the challenge is reclaiming living space or moving your loved one to another home, Potomac Concierge will be an extra pair of hands and leader in the sorting/organizing process, serve as a non-judgmental neutral third party, understand the importance of confidentiality, and take care of consulting other professionals or needed vendors.
Improve the quality of your life by contacting Potomac Concierge today. To schedule professional organization services in the Washington, DC metro area for you or a loved one, call (240) 200-4824 or schedule a consultation phone call online.