Our staff attended a online information session “Hoarding Behaviours” delivered by Jo Cavalot from Hoarding Disorder UK. We thought would share the learning with you.
Hoarding disorder is on the rise and had increased significantly after lockdowns. It affects 6% of the UK population (3 million people).
Hoarding is characterised by
- Excessive acquisition (affects 60% of hoarders) or
- Difficulties with discarding which affects all hoarders. It causes emotional distress regardless of the value of the items.
- Long term stress and anxiety
- Post cancer treatment
- Bereavement (inability to get rid of inherited items, even those with no sentimental value
- Environmental concerns – known as eco hoarding. People are reluctant to throw things in the bin but then they can’t recycle it and it all gets out of hand.
Chronic Disorganisation is also an issue – especially with neurodiversity diagnoses in later life. This is described as disorganisation that undermines daily life – such as organising, prioritising, sustaining attention and task starting. People affected have often tried systems to deal with the situation but they have not worked. Often, due to the disorganisation people find it easier to buy additional items rather than deal with existing ones – for example buying new towels instead of washing them. This then leads to clutter and feelings of being overwhelmed.
Hoarding is NOT usually a lifestyle choice, even when the hoarder says it is – it is usually anxiety related. It fills a void, and people feel safe with their hoard in that they feel it will not leave them.
When dealing with a hoard, always ask the person’s permission before you touch anything. Ask them where they would like to start and bear in mind that the hoard has taken years to accumulate, so it is going to take a long time to sort out. The person needs empowering, rather than someone taking over.