Hoarding is a mental disorder that not only affects the hoarder themselves, it greatly affects the family members. Emotionally it can take a toll on family. Imagine not being able to invite family and friends over for get togethers, celebrate holidays, birthdays and other special occasions because the house is too cluttered or the plumbing doesn’t work properly. Families are not able to sit at the kitchen table to enjoy a home cooked meal. Most families of hoarders have to depend on take out food thus costing the family an enormous amount of money. Shame engulfs the hoarder and the family.
Family members and possibly the hoarders themselves are embarrassed by the clutter. They don’t want other family, friends or even the repairman to come inside and see the mess. Unless the hoarder is willing and wanting to accept help the clutter will continue to pile up resulting in serious consequences in the future. Family members also start to feel cut off from the rest of the world. Children cannot have sleep overs in fear of embarrassment or that Child Protective Services will come and take them away. Spouses or significant others are at wits end having had tried to help the hoarder by cleaning until they realize it is way too much for them to handle anymore. Financially speaking, hoarders and the families suffer sometimes serious consequences. Constant purchasing of items brings comfort to a hoarder though in the long run credit cards are maxed out, funds in bank accounts are dwindling.
Fire hazards, health hazards, structural compromises are just a few of the consequences hoarders and their families will face unless there is professional intervention. It does not matter how much family or friends do for a hoarder if one is not willing to accept help. To say that a family member is enabling the person by allowing them to continue hoarding is naive response.
Hoarders live in fear that any items they throw away, any animals they give away or food they discard may be needed later. They live with a “just in case” attitude all the time. They feel they are acting reasonable, sometimes as if they are helpful to others having that item someone may need. However, there are some hoarders who, may have items that are special in that they will not under any circumstances get rid of or give them away.
Collecting things is a comfort for hoarders. They do not comprehend that continuously collecting things adding to their clutter cuts them off from the rest of the world. Many hoarders do not have much if any of a social life. They are isolated in their own homes. It is a financial strain to be a hoarder or the family member of a hoarder. Embarrassment is one of the biggest reasons why a hoarder will not seek out help. Families are ashamed besides feeling helpless. A hoarder must be the one to ultimately be willing to accept help and the family must be willing to provide support as the hoarder seeks out treatment. It is known that medication, therapy and support go hand in hand for a hoarder to become a productive, healthy person again.