Clear Tip of the Week
hoard 1This week's question from the STUFF-ication audience:
Q: Can you help with hoarding? 
A: To answer this, it's important to differentiate between general clutter and actual hoarding. Don't assume your pack-rat husband is a hoarder. Or your thrifty aunt who saves string. Let's shed some light on this often perplexing term.
The Mayo Clinic defines hoarding as "the excessive collection of items along with the
inability to discard them." This includes items bought, received from others, found and brought home or all the above. Hoarding takes cluttering to a degree that threatens the health and safety of anyone in the home. And left untreated, it gets progressively worse.  Insects, rodents, rotting garbage, human and/or animal waste all contribute to hazardous conditions. Cluttering can lead to hoarding but the two are not synonymous. Hoarding is a disease that requires treatment.
As recent as 6 mos. ago, hoarding was labeled under the category of OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder). Researchers are now finding, however, that hoarders do NOT respond to typical OCD therapy and/or medication. And while most OCD patients acknowledge their disorder and eventually seek treatment, hoarders deny it. Which is why it is so difficult for family and loved ones to handle. Growing up in a hoarder household or even watching it take over from the outside can be a heart wrenching experience. There are multiple layers of emotions to consider for everyone involved. Fortunately, with the national media attention hoarding is receiving - help lines and support groups are also coming into view.
It seems ironic that hoarders are often articulate, well educated people who offer sophisticated reasons for saving and acquiring. But recent studies on the brain activity of hoarders show an inability to deal with focus, attention and decision making.
Common symptoms of hoarding:
  • assigning value to worthless items such as: food cartons, scraps of paper, junk mail, soiled clothing
  • rooms filled with clutter, boxes, etc. with only a trail to walk through
  • defensive or "keep out" behavior
  • fearful of anyone touching their things
Hoarding clean up is often a costly and complicated process and it is never a one-man job. In addition to the manual labor, it's vital to stay in communication with family members as to their needs and concerns. Photo summaries, inventory sheets and progress reports can help to keep everyone on the same page. It's critical to get clear expectations up front of what is expected as far as searching for and securing valuables like money, artifacts, tax and bank records, artwork and heirlooms. Below are just a few of the before/after photos from a recent project. This was a team of 3 working 3-hour shifts, 3-days a week for 4 weeks. That's 108 hours of manpower just to complete Phase 1.  Also, in this case, the homeowner had recently relocated and was not on site during the project. There's a whole other dynamic involved if the hoarder is still living in the home.
If you know someone in a hoarding situation, below are some suggested places that can offer help for you and them. For the rest, this is a good reminder to start today with getting your clutter cleared out. We never know when we will exit this planet - don't leave it for someone else to do. The best gift you can give yourself and your loved ones is to have a clear place.
hoard bedroomhoard bed after 
hoard bed 3hoard bed after 
hoard fam 4hoard fam new 
laundry hoardhoard laundry 
 Help for Hoarders 
Weekly support group for hoarders. Family/friends welcome.
Thursdays, 5:30 - 6:30 pm, Alano Club of Portland, 909 NW 24th
Summary of Symptoms, Treatments, Causes of Hoarding
Mayo Clinic website. Learn More
Best Website - Definitions, Self-help, Tests for Hoarding, Rating Chart, Book Suggestions, NationwideTherapist Directory - lots of downloads, visuals and tips, including do's and don'ts when talking with a hoarder.
IOCDF Hoarding Center. Learn More
lightsWhere's Ms. Green?
Heading to home town Chicago!
Clear Tips will be taking a break for a few weeks.
Watch for new Before & After
photos coming later in August.
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