With TV shows like “Hoarders” and “Buried Alive”, hoarding has become a growing issue in American culture. Compulsive hoarding affects approximately 700,000 to 1.4 million people in the US. This disorder may affect appear to affect only the individual, but it can have a ripple effect on families, neighbors, and HOA’s.
Hoarding, or excessive contents, is a chromic disorder that gradually worsens over a period of time. Usually this is sparked by a traumatic event, like a death or separation of some kind; or can be due to a genetic disorder. This will heighten the anxiety in the individual and encourage the need to hold-on to important items as though they were family keepsakes.
Most HOA’s or Property Management companies address the issue once the hoarding begins to effect the neighboring properties, either due to smell, pests, or aesthetics. While some property managers and HOA’s are able to work directly with the homeowner to cleanup, others are left to apply for court orders in order to enforce cleanup.
This can be a very difficult subject for the facility or property manager to deal with. There are a few vital items to remember when dealing with excessive contents:
- TIME LENGTH – The compulsion to hoard often starts during childhood or the teen years, but doesn’t usually become severe until adulthood. If you are dealing with an adult resident, you are not addressing a recent issue, but an issue that has worsened over time.
- FEAR – Many hoarders are perfectionists. They fear making the wrong decision about what to keep and what to throw out, so they keep everything. 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 they will hang on to the item to prevent angst.
- MENTAL HEALTH – Hoarding often runs in families and can frequently accompany other mental health disorders, like depression, social anxiety, bipolar disorder, and impulse control problems. A majority of people with compulsive hoarding can identify another family member who has the problem. Because of this, hoarders usually require long term treatment to continue their personal progress.
- DENIAL – Compulsive hoarders rarely recognize their problem. Generally, only after the hoarding becomes a problem with other family members is the problem discussed.
Hiring a professional cleanup company will address the various difficulties with excessive content residences. Most hoarder residences are infested with rate, mice, and roaches, as well as a breeding ground for mold. Professional cleanup companies will have appropriate respirators and face masks to protect the workers living within the residence. This will also protect against any biohazard exposure. If there are pests, soiled flooring/drywall, mold, asbestos, biohazards, or smells, the cleanup company will need to address these issues. Depending on the severity, they may recommend abatement, drywall removal, air duct cleaning, or ThermaPure Heat.
At Alliance, we bring homes and properties back to a safe, livable condition while being attentive and respectful to the underlying emotional realities of the situation. Our professional cleanup teams work efficiently and properly to clean and decontaminate the home in a discreet manner so that people are able to return into a usable living space as quickly as possible.