My Featured Blogger this week is actually a journalist, Jocasta Lennon, a freelance writer “with a passion for the eclectic and unusual.” When Jocasta first approached me, I was delighted that she considered this a place for talented new writers to be discovered. But it wasn’t until stories began to emerge of massive hoarding during the current pandemic that the time seemed right. Some people are simply going overboard, of course. But others, reports say, are growing dangerously obessessed.
Keeping souvenirs from trips [or stocking up for unexpected crises] is one thing, but when this habit amounts to hoarding, it can wreak havoc on your health and happiness! Just this month, an obsessive hoarder, James Petit, was found buried beneath so much rubbish that it took five hours to remove the man’s body from his home. This has happened to between five and 14 million people. Hoarding can run in families and it can cause accidents, injuries, and other problems. If you know someone with a similar problem, it is important for them to get professional help. Hoarding can be a killer!
Personal, Community and Work Risks
James Petit was literally entombed by a mountain of rubbish. Investigators believe he may have [suffocated under] the heavy items that fell on him. The University of Michigan Health System says that hoarding also puts people’s neighbours in danger, while getting rid of items can be no less than distressing for them. Hoarding at work can be dangerous to co-workers, as well, especially those dealing with machines, heating equipment or flames, and even normal office equipment. Having piles of paper near photocopiers and computers can increase the risks of overheating and fires. Clearing out and recycling items regularly is important.
Hoarding and Falls
One in four Americans aged 65 and over falls every year – the busier a home is, the greater the chance of falls. If you are a senior or you live with older people, try a simpler, more minimalist layout for your home, which reduces tripping risks. Extreme hoarding can result in everything from falls to wounds.
Hoarding vs Cleanliness
It can be very difficult to keep a hoarder’s home clean. When lifting piles of junk, you may find rotting food, dead insects and other nasty surprises. These items can decompose and build up bacteria. In humid parts of the home, mold can secretly proliferate beneath mountains of hoarded items and furniture.
What Treatment is Available for Hoarding?
Hoarders often do not see that they have a problem; they’re more worried about losing the items they’ve been collecting. The primary [treatment for] hoarding is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). This treatment aims at encouraging hoarders to take small and then larger steps to reduce the number of unnecessary items in their home. As behavior changes, so can their attitude toward these items, and vice-versa.
Hoarding can be a serious source of stress. It can lead to illness, injury, and even death. So if you live with someone who hoards, encourage them to get help. A combination of CBT and, when the person is ready, professional cleaning can help your neighbors and loved ones get [to where we’re all trying to get right now]…
On the road to a happier, healthier life.