We tend to see an uptick in some of our services during the summer months prompted by the odors that develop in hot weather. One of those is hoarding, which the Mayo Clinic defines as “a persistent difficulty discarding or parting with possessions because of a perceived need to save them.” Hoarding has been on the rise in recent years, currently estimated to affect 1 in 5 people. The American Psychiatric Association officially registered Hoarding Disorder (HD) as an official mental disorder in 2013.
There is significant variety in how HD affects people from the causes, to things hoarded, and severity. There are various risk factors for hoarding including personality, family history, and stress levels. What we have found is that there is typically a historical disposition towards clutter when what we call a “trigger” event occurs that the affected person(s) is unable to cope with effectively. This could be losing a job, the death of a family member, a health issue or some other traumatic event, and drugs. We have assisted clients that hoard animals, urine, mail, clothing, or simply everything that makes its way into the home. The hoarding is exacerbated by isolation or perceived isolation. It may be depression or debilitating illness/injury that prevents the hoarder from keeping up with their home, but as the situation worsens, embarrassment causes them to withdraw further and try to hide the situation from friends, family and neighbors.
Hoarding can cause significant damage to a home. The National Study Group on Compulsive Disorganization created a clutter hoarding scale with five levels of hoarding ranging from clutter to total inaccessibility of areas of the home and interruptions to the utilities. It can also lead to other issues such as rodent infestations and mold. The sooner it is addressed the better it is for the person’s quality of life, health, property, and pocket book.
We suggest property managers do preventative maintenance checks on a regular basis to protect their owners’ assets. If the hoarder is the homeowner though, it can be more challenging, because their cooperation will be required if they are still living. (We receive many calls from family members who have inherited properties from a hoarder). We love receiving calls from people with the disorder that recognize they need help and are ready to make a change! Often times though, the call comes from a concerned friend or family member, and what we’ve found is that some sort of leverage may be required to motivate the property owner. This could be a red tag from code compliance, a visit from the sheriff’s office or an eviction notice from their landlord.
All of Bio-One’s hoarding jobs are custom-designed to meet the needs of the client because every situation is different. It usually starts with a free phone consultation followed by a free on-site estimate when the family is ready. We walk the property with the client(s) to empathize with their challenges and define our scope. We will put together a proposal for their review and adjust with feedback if necessary. We encourage a 1-page “Recovery List” from the family that we will ensure our crew is on the lookout for specific items of importance. This includes items of obvious value like money, jewelry, or important documents, as well as items of sentimental value like pictures and family keepsakes. These will be stored in a safe zone for the family’s review. Besides decluttering a home, Bio-One can remove soiled carpets, recover feces or dead animals, sanitize & deep clean, perform mold remediation, and connect the clients to other reputable trades.
We understand that hoarding is very stressful for all parties involved, and our team approaches every situation with sensitivity and respect. We would be honored to help you navigate this challenging experience with our years of experience. Please call 480-647-8651 anytime with questions.