Hoarding is a mental health disorder characterised by a persistent difficulty in discarding or parting with possessions, regardless of their actual value.
It can have a significant impact on the individual who hoards, as well as their loved ones. Here we will explore how hoarding affects loved ones and offer some insights into how to navigate this challenging situation.
For those living with someone who hoards, the emotional toll can be significant. They may feel ashamed or embarrassed by the condition of their home, which can also lead to social isolation and anxiety. The feeling of helplessness and frustration may lead to depression, and ongoing stress as a result of the fear of losing a loved one to this disorder.
Hoarding can also result in a financial burden for loved ones. For people who hoard it may mean they accumulate an excessive number of items, including those that are broken, unusable, or have no practical value. These items can take up valuable living space and cause damage to the home. In extreme cases, the home may become unlivable, which can lead to the need for costly repairs, or even relocation. This can lead to significant financial strain for the loved ones involved.
Physical health concerns
Hoarding poses physical health risks for people living in the home, as well as for those who visit. The accumulation of items can create a breeding ground for mold, bacteria, and pests, which can lead to health issues such as respiratory problems, infections, and allergic reactions. Additionally, the clutter in the home can create tripping hazards, increasing the risk of falls, and injuries.
Hoarding can often cause relationships to become strained. People who hoard may feel attacked or judged by their loved ones, which can lead to a breakdown in communication and increased social isolation. Conversely, loved ones may feel overwhelmed by the hoarding behavior and frustrated that they are unable to help their loved one. This can lead to arguments, resentment, and a breakdown in the relationship.
Keep in mind that hoarding is a complex mental health disorder. If you or your family are impacted by hoarding, you may benefit from working with a mental health professional to learn coping mechanisms and ways to support your loved one. This may involve individual counselling, family therapy, and cognitive-behavioral therapy.
Hoarding can have a significant impact on loved ones, leading to emotional distress, financial burden, physical health concerns, and strained relationships. If you or someone you know are struggling with hoarding, it is important to seek professional help to address the condition and develop a plan for coping with the disorder.