Hoarding Defined & 6 Tips to Help You & Yours, or Clients in Scarsdale, NY 10583.
Writing this blog was bittersweet because of the hoarders in my family's past and maybe our present -- if you listen to my family.
So, it was important to research the psychology of Hoarding, in order to share some tips and finding that may help you and yours, or your clients.
Also, known as “collectors,” many men and women who hoard are sensitive to being named with the “H” word, although there seems to be an epidemic among Baby Boomer and Depression era babies. These were the hoarders in my family before it was cool or HAD a name.
My maternal grandparents both saved a LOT of stuff. Our family filled two 12 ton, 30 foot dumpsters when we cleaned out my grandma’s attic and basement before she passed at 93 years old from Alzheimer’s Disease.
So, I found one great resource in an article by Therese J. Borchard in a psychology ezine. She and I are both “book collectors,” for one thing! She was featured on a TV show about helping hoarders reclaim their lives. In fact, one of our Servpro partners was the cleaning company that producers called in, to air on one of the hoarding shows that are peppering the airwaves these days.
Even though our Servpro of Scarsdale / Mount Vernon helps families, Estate Attorneys and professionals with the hoarders in their lives, we understand that this is a difficult and sensitive client situation. Our tender, customer service approach is given with the utmost respect to the homeowner and their friends and family who want to help.
In one case, an estate lawyer had a client who had passed away and he was tasked with clearing out a huge Scarsdale home, filled top to bottom with unopened QVC boxes and clothing.
We stepped up.
So, in researching Borchard’s article and others that quoted John’s Hopkins physicians among others, I noted that even though most folks lump compulsive hoarding into the obsessive-compulsive disorder camp, hoarders actually have different brains. The brain-imaging research shows that people with compulsive hoarding have distinct abnormalities in brain function compared to people with non-hoarding OCD, and some with no clear with no psychiatric issues.
Other contributors to these types of “brain abnormalities” may be unclear, but compulsive hoarding seems to follow damage from stroke, surgery, injuries or infections.
In her Hoarding article, Borchard also notes that psychology and environmental factors (e.g. traumatic family experiences) can "contribute to abnormal brain development and function.”
She pointed to professionals who think that the syndrome is also related to:
- Avoidance behaviors
- Difficulty organizing tasks
About 30 percent of OCD patients exhibit some hoarding habits, according to a specialist in World of Psychology. Also, the OCD diagnosed individuals with hoarding symptoms have a more severe illness, a greater prevalence of anxiety disorders, and a greater prevalence of personality disorders than people with OCD who don’t have hoarding symptoms.
I also noted that Hoarders are often less responsive to treatment than non-hoarding OCD patients, according to Bouchard’s medical sources.
Here are six decluttering tips for Hoarders and their loved ones from Bouchards great article:
- Make immediate decisions about mail and newspapers. Go through mail and newspapers on the day you receive them and throw away unwanted materials immediately. Don’t leave anything to be decided on later.
- Think twice about what you allow into your home. Wait a couple of days after seeing a new item before you buy it. And when you do purchase something new, discard another item you own to make room for it.
- Set aside 15 minutes a day to declutter. Start small–with a table, perhaps, or a chair–rather than tackling the entire, overwhelming house at once. If you start to feel anxious, take a break and do some deep-breathing or relaxation exercises.
- Dispose of anything you have not used in a year. That means old clothes, broken items, and craft projects you’ll never finish. Remind yourself that many items are easily replaceable if you need them later.
- Follow the OHIO rule [which apparently doesn’t work in Ohio, because I’m from there]: Only Handle It Once. If you pick something up, make a decision then and there about it, and either put it where it belongs or discard it. Don’t fall into the trap of moving things from one pile to another, again and again
- Ask for help if you can’t do it on your own. If you feel these strategies are impossible to carry out and you cannot cope with the problem on your own, seek out a mental health professional.
If you or your family need a little help with hoarding, or a client has a home that must be cleaned out – especially under a court order or due to a fire marshall ordinance – call folks like us. Certified technicians at our specialized cleaning companies know how to handle the biohazard and other health hazards that usually are part of this cleaning process.
Call us if you need free advice and ask for me or Traci Burrows, or schedule an appointment in the NYC Tri-state and Westchester County, to just walk through the property and offer you cleanup ideas that may help you.
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