Professional house clearance companies are increasingly being asked to carry out hoarding house clearances, but how can you tell if someone is a hoarder, and what should you do about it?
The Definition of Hoarding
The NHS says hoarding occurs 'where someone acquires an excessive number of items and stores them in a chaotic manner, usually resulting in unmanageable amounts of clutter'. This isn't necessarily a problem. However, if items build up to a level where it is not possible to enter a room or move around freely then this is something that must be dealt with, especially if the clutter poses a threat to health.
It can also be a problem if the hoarder is challenged about it and denies there’s a problem. Not only does the clutter stay where it is, but the relationship between them and their family couldsuffer.
Although hoarding is common in older people, it can start during adolescence and may be linked to other conditions such as eating disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorders, severe depression, schizophrenia, and traumatic life events.
Hoarders are often reluctant to throw items away because they believe they might need them at some point in the future, or because they have bought unnecessary items in the misguided belief that ‘they will make me happy’. They may also keep too many items because they remind the person of someone else.
How Can You Spot It?
Tell-tale signs that someone has this condition can be shown in the build-up of the following items:
- Items with little or no monetary value at all such as junk mail, cardboard boxes or carrier bags.
- Items that they intend to reuse or repair (but have never actually got around to doing so).
- Newspapers and magazines, although often they are well out of date.
- Bills and receipts, even though they have usually been paid, or the warranties have expired.
- Books – even though they haven't read them for a while, and have no particular monetary value.
- Clothes – which they haven't worn for a while or which don't even fit them any longer.
- Ordinary household supplies (even if they are well past their best before/use-by date).
- Some ‘hoard’ animals, which they may not be able to look after properly (and which may need to be rehomed or the RSPCA called in).
- And, in recent years, it’s not physical letters that may be hoarded, but electronic data (particularly emails) which the person is reluctant to delete.
It’s worth noting that hoarding is different from collecting as someone who does the latter has their items properly catalogued and stored.
What Should You Do?
If you think someone you love has a hoarding problem, the first thing you should do is get help for that person, either by contacting a GP or other health professional (or other friends or family if you aren’t the primary carer) to alert them to the problem. Stress you are doing it out of concern for their welfare.
A doctor may be able to refer you to the appropriate mental health services or a therapist. The main treatment recommended by the NHS is cognitive behavioural therapy, which enables the hoarder to understand their problem and to create a plan of action to clear their home.
Hoarding House Clearance Services in London from ASAP Clearances
You also might need to contact a house clearance company such as ourselves. This particularly applies if the person hasn’t been treated. And, even if they have, there may be some items that need immediate attention such as perishable food and drink, and pets.
Also, some homes may need to be cleared because the person has died or it’s part of an estate. We offer probate house clearances in London too. Whatever type of items have been hoarded, ASAP Clearances will be able to remove them sensitively and speedily. Finding a new home for them if possible, or recycling them.
If you would like to know more about ASAP Clearances' hoarding house clearance services in London, follow this link and fill in the online contact form. You can also call us directly on 020 3475 0508.