Too Much Stuff vs Hoarding

I often have people, particularly women tell me that their husbands are hoarders, because they have a huge number of things collected in their ‘man shed’, under or in the house itself.  They are not usually hoarders at all, they just have too much stuff!  

Is it too much stuff and is it a problem?

First, I’d like to point out that having too much ‘stuff’ or having a ‘cluttered’ home or garage is subjective.  One size certainly does not fit all when it comes to how much stuff we have.  Owning too much stuff is not a problem if you have somewhere to put it, you are happy with how your place looks, can reside or move safely within your home or garage and it doesn’t pose a health risk.
If it’s affecting your relationships with the people you live with or your family, then it might be a good time to consider seeing the situation from their point of view.

What is hoarding?

The definition of hoarding:
“The excessive accumulation of things, regardless of actual value due to the perceived need to save them.”

Criteria for compulsive hoarding disorder include:

  • Difficulty discarding items regardless of their value.
  • An apparent need to save the items and related distress at the thought of losing them.
  • Clutter that prevents the home being used for its intended purpose.

People with hoarding disorder may have other mental health disorders or experienced trauma that has contributed or triggered the need to collect and save items.  They believe an item has value when others will view the same item and consider it to be rubbish.

If you’ve never seen extreme examples of hoarding then flick to Google images and type in ‘hoarding disorder’, it’s pretty confronting.  We have assisted families in helping to clear out hoarded homes and garages and it can be emotionally complicated, and difficult for the families of a hoarder to understand how best to approach the situation.

Ways to Help a Hoarder

There are many ways to provide practical help and show support with care, kindness and compassion.  The good news is that in many cases compulsive hoarding disorder is treatable.

  • Understand that this is a disorder and learn more about the condition.
  • Don’t put pressure on the person to discard items or clean up.
  • Encourage them to seek help.

I’d like to note that people who are compulsive hoarders residing in a home that has become unsafe for them, should be referred for professional assessment or treatment in the first instance.

It’s not an easy topic to discuss, but if you need help with a hoarding situation, please contact us and we are happy to guide or assist you.

Example of hoarding in a house

Hoarding in a house can make it difficult to move around, and an unhealthy and unsafe environment to live in.

Example of hoarding in a vehicle.

Hoarding can include filling up vehicles, sheds and storage units up with collected items and rubbish.