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Hoarding — The 5 Stages and How to Recognize Them

There’s probably been a time when you’re scrolling through the TV channels and you’ve landed on the show “Hoarders”. The TV show features piles of things, garbage, pests, all crammed into someone’s home. What we often don’t see is what triggers hoarding, or what it even is. If you think you have a hoarder in your life, keep in mind that you have to understand what hoarding is before you can even begin to help the hoarder. 

Hoarding is a mental disorder, marked by an obsessive desire to acquire a significant amount of possessions. It’s a compulsion, and not an addiction.  In most cases, hoarding is triggered by a traumatic life event, such as grief, divorce, abuse, or lack of control. These are people that are looking for self-worth and happiness, and overall have good intentions. Throughout the process, you have to keep the highest level of compassion. While it is important to be patient and compassionate, keep in mind that you are not a therapist. To tackle deeper mental issues, don’t hesitate in contacting a professional. 

Each situation ranges in its intensity and type, which is divided into five stages.  

Lastly, there are a few safety concerns that you should be prepared to handle. Watch out for human/animal excrement, microbial contamination, chemical waste, needles, and infestation. You should consider wearing personal protective equipment (PPE), such as gloves, booties, coveralls, and masks. There could also be loose flooring. If you’re concerned about the structural integrity of the building, do not enter.  

If you come across a hoarding situation that needs to be addressed, don’t hesitate to call ServiceMaster of Tacoma. Our team is trained in packing out hoarding situations and handling it with empathy.