In our last blog, we tackled the topic of hoarding and revealed just how badly the condition can affect one’s breathing air. It’s important to underline the fact that hoarding is a condition. For those who believe that hoarders should just “clean things up”, it’s a bit easier said than done. Needless to say, a hoarder is the opposite of a “neat freak”. But, sometimes those of us who are “freaks” are referred to as people who go “overboard” with their cleaning up routines.
And while hoarders go overboard themselves – in the opposite direction, of course – it should be noted that it isn’t always something that they can help. On PsychCentral.com, Therese Borchard explains that compulsive hoarding is actually an anxiety disorder that can greatly interfere with a person’s daily activities. In fact, it’s considered a form of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, which is commonly known as OCD.
Borchard reveals that research conducted by Dr. Gerald Nestadt and Dr. Jack Samuels of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine found that “compulsive hoarding affects approximately 700,000 to 1.4 million people in the US.” The doctors also point out an extremely important trait of a hoarder that may help to battle misconceptions about them. Opposing the idea that hoarders are purposely “disgusting” people who enjoy living in garbage, they are in fact “perfectionists”.
“They fear making the wrong decision about what to keep and what to throw out, so they keep everything,” reveals Borchard. As a result, it’s important to know that helping hoarders to improve their living spaces will take a whole lot more than ridiculing their lifestyles. In fact, eMentalHealth.ca insists upon a very loving and encouraging approach to loved ones who may need assistance with their hoarding tendencies.
“Praise and reinforce any positives,” advises the site. In other words, instead of using negative comments to shame and embarrass the hoarder, it will serve a much greater purpose to acknowledge any progress he or she has made. “I notice that you’ve cleared your couch. That’s amazing! How did you manage to do that?” and “I notice that it’s more cleared near your front door. That’s great!” are examples given.
These tips can prove to be especially helpful when you remember that compulsive hoarding is directly attributed to one’s anxiety. Borchard reminds us that, based on the research conducted by Dr. Nestadt and Dr. Samuels, “hoarding can be more about fear of throwing something away than about collection or saving. Thinking about discarding an item triggers anxiety in the hoarder, so she hangs on to the item to prevent angst.”
The eMentalHealth.ca website reminds us to acknowledge that there are emotions attached to the possessions of a hoarder. In order to properly help such an individual, one must validate his or her feelings. “Don’t lecture or tell the person what to do, unless you have build up enough trust,” the site strongly advises. Evidently, it can be a long and hard process to help a hoarder get over his or her compulsions.
At DF Technical & Consulting Services Ltd., we are committed to assisting hoarders with changing their lives. We have a lot of experiences entering the homes of hoarders in order to both manage their living spaces and assess the quality of their breathing air. As you know from our last blog, hoarding can negatively impact indoor air quality. For more information on how we can help, please don’t hesitate to call us at 1-855-668-3131 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.