Hoarding

HOARDING

I, Terina Bainter, am an advocate for those with hoarding tendencies and their families. Hoarding is a real and serious problem that stands to decrease the quality of life for the person who hoards and their family members. The DSM-5 classifies hoarding as a disorder characterized by a person’s difficulty in giving or throwing away their possessions, irrespective of their value. The challenge for individuals with hoarding tendencies is reaching out for help, since many are ashamed of their living conditions.

Hoarding FAQ's

- The acquisition of items that may or may not be of limited or useless value.

- The failure to discard items.

- Rooms that cannot be used for their intended purposes.

- The distress it causes the Individual, family members, or the community.

What is Hoarding Disorder?

Hoarding Disorder is a diagnosed mental health condition, not unlike anxiety, depression, ADHD, OCD, or Bi-Polar.  Not only does Hoarding Disorder negatively impact the individual affected by the disorder, it causes great distress for family members, friends, and the community in which they live.

What is the root cause and effect of Hoarding Disorder?

Current estimates are 1 in 20 individuals have Hoarding Disorder.  That’s 345,000 people in the state of Washington alone.  Chances are good that you know someone who is struggling with this challenge--you probably are just not aware of their situation. Hoarding does not necessarily look like what you see on the TV shows such as “Hoarders”. Those shows highlight the most extreme cases that have gone untreated and unchecked for many years.  In fact, asking and getting help before the clutter gets overwhelming is highly recommended by experts.  Not only will reaching out early save time, money, and frustration, the rate of recidivism (relapse into a previous condition) is severally reduced.

How common is hoarding?

My goal is to help change the stigma surrounding hoarding disorder.  In my opinion, the first step is education and changing the wording.  When we say “Jane is a hoarder” we are describing her by the challenges she is facing.  But if we say that “Jane has hoarding tendencies, hoarding characteristics, or hoarding disorder”, then we can also see Jane for who she is: someone’s daughter, aunt, mom or grandmother.  Labeling the situation, not the person, allows us to see how they contribute to the lives of others and the gifts they have to give the world.

What does the term hoarder mean to me?

Statistics show that hoarding disorder affects men and women equally. 

Does Hoarding Disorder affect men or women more?

Current estimates are 1 in 20 individuals have Hoarding Disorder.  That’s 345,000 people in the state of Washington alone.  Chances are good that you know someone who is struggling with this challenge--you probably are just not aware of their situation. Hoarding does not necessarily look like what you see on the TV shows such as “Hoarders”. Those shows highlight the most extreme cases that have gone untreated and unchecked for many years.  In fact, asking and getting help before the clutter gets overwhelming is highly recommended by experts.  Not only will reaching out early save time, money, and frustration, the rate of recidivism (relapse into a previous condition) is severally reduced.

How common is hoarding?

The best and only ethical course of action is to begin from a place of concern for the safety of the person who has hoarding disorder. Expressing your non-judgmental, factual concerns is key. If emergency exits are blocked, piles of newspapers pose a fire hazard, or kitchen or bathing facilities are unsanitary, those are health risks that warrant real concern for a person's safety.  Compassionately listening to the person who has hoarding disorder when you bring up these concerns, not offering solutions or advice, but letting them know you care, can be the first step in having a person who hoards potentially reach out for help.

How do I approach the subject?

Studies have proven that forced, unsupported clean-outs are extremely traumatic. People who hoard frequently will fill the home back to its original, or increased, level of clutter in approximately 1/10th the time frame (for example, if it took 10 years to get to the hoarded state before the clean out, it may be back to the hoarded state in one year or less).  This response helps them deal with the stress and anxiety that unsupported clean outs create.

Can't I just go in and clean it out for them?

The most effective treatment for individuals suffering from Hoarding Disorder is a multi-disciplinary approach including mental health professionals, law and code enforcement, emergency responders, protective services (animal, adult, and child), professional organizers, cleaning companies, the health department, housing officials and representatives and many more!

What can I do?

See my suggestions for highly recommended books on Hoarding Disorder that I find to be very helpful.

5 Levels of Hoarding

Homes have accessible doors and stairways, with relatively healthy living conditions. Clutter isn't excessive and may have light evidence of rodents or pests. May have evidence of pet accidents. 

1.

Hoarded homes are consistently cluttered space, sometimes with small-scale insect problems. Non-functioning appliances or slight structural damage to the home may be present.

2.

This is the pivotal level.  Getting help at this stage is key to reclaiming a safe home. Clutter obstructs functions in key areas, building up around exits, entrances, hallways and stairs. You may see inappropriate usage of small appliances, and extension cords.  Substandard housekeeping and maintenance.   

3.

hoarded homes many have packed so many items into the home, there is little living space actually available for use. Pest problems and structural damage, alongside the crammed space, make the home a potentially dangerous living environment.  Sometimes the homes are so cramped that individuals cannot even live in their homes, as it is a veritable health and safety hazard

4/5.

Terina & Hoarding

"Only after researching the problem did I really begin to understand the biological differences existing in the mind of a person with hoarding disorder versus those who do not.

 

A person who hoards present a physical anomaly in brain function and it is not something a person can usually change without professional support. 

 

My desire to help those who hoard to organize their spaces is a direct reaction to my own family members’ hoarding behaviors.  I understand firsthand the effects of hoarding on a family. Family members may feel that the person who hoards values their possessions more than their spouses, children, or grandchildren. In actuality, the person who hoards needs assistance coping with the anxiety involved in letting items go.  

 

After completing courses through the Institute for the Challenging Disorganization, I started work as a volunteer with the King Pierce County Hoarding Task Force. I am educated and prepared to assist those suffering from hoarding disorder. I offer my expertise as a Certified Professional Organizer® to assist people who hoard in decluttering, repurposing, and organizing storage, in a non-judgmental, patient, and safe environment.

 

If you would like professional assistance with hoarding environments, please contact me at 253.604.4963 "

Terina M. Bainter CPO®, COC®, ACC

Owner, Clutter Cutters, LLC.

 

 

Please note, if we determine the level of the hoard requires additional professionals to help support the individual and home, I have a list of qualified resources that we can work in collaboration with.