Posts Tagged ‘Hoarders’

Hoarding Misunderstood

May 1, 2010

Millions of people in the United States are hoarders. One may hoard books, papers, knick knacks, clothing, food, even animals. The average person will view this as pure laziness, sloppiness or neglect. And what they don’t understand is that hoarding is a mental disorder. Some will have obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and it may or may not be genetic.

Even families who have dealt with a hoarder for many years may be extremely frustrating. They may have separated themselves from the hoarder. This can be from countless attempts to help their hoarding loved one with cleaning, financial help or embarrassment as far back as from childhood.

Socially, hoarders suffer greatly as does the rest of the family.  Spending holidays together is non existent. There are no sleepovers for children nor friends of any age that come over for visits. The hoarder and their family can barely move inside the home much less have anyone else over. If the hoarder has young children they risk losing them, even losing the home because of the excessive clutter.

Animal hoarders love animals in their own way although law enforcement disagree. Most view it as neglect or abuse. There have been cases of animal hoarders with hundreds of animals (which includes those found dead) in or around a home. Most of the animals are decimated, have diseases and live in filth. Still though, the animal hoarder believes they are doing the best they can. They believe they are saving the animals from death if they were to be sent to the animal shelter. These hoarders feel that the animals are kind and understanding unlike humans who are scathing, uncaring, misunderstood about them.

Unless the hoarder is under treatment and support the chances are very high they will repeat the pattern again. It is important for the family, friends and public to understand what hoarding is and what can be done.

Animal Hoarding

March 24, 2010

After spending some time reading and watching countless episodes of A&E’s “Hoarders” as well as TLC’s new version “Hoarding: Buried Alive” I have been able to understand more about people who hoard animals.

Animal Hoarding is when a person collects animals whether horses, goats, dogs, cats or even birds in excess. The average family that may own a few animals. People who hoard animals DO love them all as their own. It becomes a difficult task though to feed and maintain the animals and thus diseases are spread, there is contamination, property becomes destroyed, infestation of rodents and insects occur and of course animals begin to die.

Animal hoarders do not see anything wrong with what they are doing. They believe they are doing a good deed by caring for animals others have discarded and do not want to see the animals put to death or suffer by going without food. There are some who do realize that their animal hoarding has spiraled out of control but do not know where to turn. Many people are still uninformed about animal hoarding and want to “throw the book” at a hoarder immediately. Basically, the hoarder may be scared, concerned, ashamed of their hoarding that they may not do anything to alleviate the issues until they have no other choice but to make changes.

The animal hoarder can be any age though many of them are up in age, perhaps in retirement. At this time the hoarder may feel this is the only thing they have to really live for. It gives them purpose to do something good for someone else.

When an animal hoarder is confronted by the authorities and forced to clean up their property, remove the animals and/or face criminal charges, it can be devastating to them. They feel as if their sense of purpose is being taken away from them. For some it may feel as if they have no other reason to live.

Like with any other hoarders, the animal hoarder may or may not be living alone. They may feel alone but find a sense of comfort in collecting items. In this case it’s animals. Animals give the hoarder attention, don’t argue or talk back nor criticize like another human being would.

The hoarder and the family

February 13, 2010

Hoarding not only affects the hoarder themselves, but also the family members. It does not matter if the family members live with the hoarder or not.  Family members are frustrated, ashamed and even angry with the hoarding situation. In fact, there are situations in which the family members have chose to “disconnect” from the hoarding family member. This is typically after the family member has attempted numerous times to clean up the hoarders mess, deal with others such as neighbors or local government officials over the hoarding matter. They may have even invested financially in dealing with the matter only to find the hoarder has relapsed.

If the hoarder is an older family member their lives may be in jeopardy as well as their housing. If you have ever watched the A&E channel’s show Hoarders you may have seen episodes with older adults who may or may not be living alone. Some have mental disorders while others have experienced traumatizing situations resulting in their hoarding situation. In one episode an older female had been dealing with hoarding most of her life. Her son was removed from the home when he was 8 and forced to live with his older sister which was to have been temporary. This woman had already paid $30,000 in fines to the city she resided in because twice they had to come in and clean up her property. When the show hoarders came in to intervene before the city came in for the third time, the clean up crew had found two cat carcasses inside the home that the woman had no idea about.  This woman was highly offended that her neighbors had complained about the mess. She felt they were against her. When her son showed up from Seattle, Wa he had disconnected himself from his mom. As he walked in to the home he was astounded at how much more cluttered and filthy the house had become. The mother wanted him to stay with her and he obviously refused. He came because he hadn’t seen his mother in four years.

In other episodes children had become intolerant of their parents situation. They could not understand why their mother or father was having difficulty parting with a trophy or teddy bear from their childhood. The children who are grown, felt that the parents had more priority over the items that needed to be discarded than them (the children).

While it may seem this way and on the outside many view it as selfish, these hoarders DO have a mental disorder. It is severe in some to the point they don’t have any regard for anyone besides themselves and their collection. Many very important items such as picture in a frame, a teddy bear from childhood or a trophy have major significance in their life.

Perhaps a traumatizing time in child hood such as a major surgery or the death of a close family member affected them to the point that something in their life triggers that memory they are holding on to. There is no switch to automatically turn this off and the person be “normal.”

For hoarders it takes multiple ways of treatment to get them living as productive life as possible. Medication, therapy and support are three vital ways to help a hoarder. Support is by far the most challenging since by the time a hoarder accepts they need help they have already pushed family and friends away. Those people most important in their life have “disconnected” themselves from the whole situation.

Hoarding is to a point becoming accepted as a mental disorder and not someone who is just being flat out lazy. There is a lot to be learned about hoarding. With an estimated 3 million hoarders in the United States alone, it is vital that people become aware of what hoarding is and how it affects everyone.

Affects of Hoarding

February 7, 2010

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.

Hoarding

February 4, 2010

Hoarding does not discriminate. Recent research has indicated that hoarding can be genetic. A hoarder may not have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD).

Children can be hoarders just as adults are. Hoarding can be due to a traumatic situation, mental disorder such as OCD.