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10 Signs Of Hoarding Habits

Look out for early signs of hoarding if you or anyone you know may have a clutter problem.

We have all seen the reality TV shows and heard stories of obsessive hoarders who live among useless items, which ultimately changes their entire lifestyle. How do you know when a little bit of clutter - or being too much of a collector - results in hoarding?

10 Signs of hoarding habits

Collecting items does not make you a hoarder; collectors have pride in their selections and enjoy putting these on full display for all to see. Some clutter around the home is completely normal, the problem begins when you require a tactical plan in order to manoeuvre your way from one room to another. Avoid a logistical nightmare and keep an eye on your collections before you get lost in your own home.

Here are some tell-tale signs that hint toward someone being, or becoming a hoarder:

1.    Parting with items is like separating egg whites from yolks

No one is telling you to get rid of that crockery set that has been in the family for generations. However, not every single crockery set you have owned in your entire life can have sentimental value. Family heirlooms are a great asset and carry fond memories and tales, but keep these items in a special, secure place.

Muster up the courage to part with items that are of no use, or value, to you. The rule is, if you are willing to keep something on the living room floor, then it’s not a family heirloom (unless it’s a rug) and you don’t need to hold onto it.

2.    You’re surrounded by heaps of strategically placed junk

If you need to stand on furniture or hold onto ‘stuff’ to help you make your way through your home safely, then someone is hoarding. Walkways and common areas should be clear of clutter, especially when there are young children living in the home. As kids, jumping over obstacles and navigating your way through objects was considered fun, but as adults this is considered an issue and is one of the most obvious signs of hoarding.

Rather put items of value in Stor-Age (shameless plug…), that way it won’t have direct impact on your life, or impede your ability to freely make your way from the bedroom to the kitchen.

3.    Important items like cash or bills are not a priority

The clutter piles in your home may consist of empty egg trays, old pot plants, empty boxes, broken toys and even last week’s pizza box, the list goes on. Utility and medical bills, cash and your university degree should not be a part of your clutter piles.

Sometimes it is easy to misplace important documentation or reminders, but when it becomes a weekly occurrence, an intervention is required. Hoarding consumes not only your home but also your life, so when important items get lost in the clutter, it starts to have a negative impact on your life, and it makes your credit name look bad.  

4.    There’s always room for free things

If you cannot resist taking free advertising flyers or sugar packets from the coffee shop, then you may be heading toward hoarding territory. Hoarders often keep free items; who knows, but they may need those expired sugar sachets one day. Chances are, the free things that are available will hardly be used, and will more than likely gather dust in the corner of the kitchen.

5.    Items are purchased for the sake of it, not out of necessity

A hoarders favourite phrases are, “what if I need it later” or “you never know what can happen”. Both these thoughts are valid; however, you are flirting with hoarding if you refer to things that you have only ever used once before.

A shopping trip becomes a scavenger hunt among the bargain bins in order to purchase as many items as possible. Why? Simply because it is on sale. There is a constant need to ‘stock up’ on things or purchase something; just in case, one day, four years from now, if I happen to be in a beauty pageant, I may need it.   

6.    Who needs family or friends when you have clutter?

When life gets too lonely because there are feelings of shame or guilt filling your mind then something needs to change drastically. If you or someone you know if too humiliated to let close friends and family come over for a visit, then hoarding has definitely won the battle.

Sometimes material things are used to fill a void; however, the emotional attachment to people cannot be imitated or replaced. Do not let possessions get the better of you and keep you away from people you love.

7.    Since there are no guests, there is no need to clean

The problem is exacerbated because the lonely lifestyle allows for a continuous cycle of collecting things and not getting rid of what you currently own. Cleaning becomes a luxury rather than a necessity as you are the only one affected by your hoarding, and no one is coming to visit so why clean.

When you are not cleaning your home, it could become dangerous for your health. Mould build-up and dirty dishes attract unwanted visitors such as rats, roaches and spiders, which results in not only a cluttered home, but also a dirty home.

8.    If something in the home is broken, there is no need to fix it

Hoarding becomes a selfish obsession. Not only do hoarders let themselves go, but also general home maintenance, which all starts with a dirty home. Whether it’s a small leak or the front door is jammed, there is no pressing need to have it repaired. Calling someone to fix broken items opens the door for judgement from a stranger and in turn, a reality check.

9.    Eating habits are irregular and unbalanced

Is it possible to have a healthy diet when you cannot make it to the kitchen without tripping, or you can’t find the refrigerator? It becomes increasingly harder to cook on a regular basis, or even consider healthy meals when the kitchen and the path to it are non-existent.

The dirtiest part of a home is said to be the kitchen, especially in a hoarder’s home. If you notice more take-away meals than nutritional food, it is probably because it has become more of a challenge than a pleasure to cook.

10.    The hoarder in question appears slightly defeated

If the mortgage bill is lost in the clutter, eventually it will be forgotten and not paid and before you know, a large debt has been incurred. When hoarders get into a comfort zone with their behaviour and state, it is difficult to snap out of it.

If you or someone you know may be suffering with a hoarding problem, it takes a lot of encouragement from friends and family, along with increasing self-value, in order to overcome the feeling of depression and anxiety caused by the possessions around you.

Do not let the term ‘hoarder’ or ‘hoarding’ present feelings of embarrassment and angst; instead let it present a challenge, a dare to make a change and a fresh start. Hoarding stems from deep-rooted insecurities or trauma; when the problem gets to a point of living in a home that is a health hazard.

Post kindly provided by a few of our friends in the Australian Freight Industry, Brad Rowe and the team at Express Link.

Posted by Stor-Age Self Storage - 15 September 2014 | Tips And Hints