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Common Types of Hoarding Behaviors

By Luke Armstrong

While the average American sees thousands of ads everyday, telling them to buy, buy, buy and spend, spend, spend, the items they do buy will often replace others in their home. There is a cycle that flows to prevent the accumulation of too many items on their property.

Items Accumulating in the Home

It's important to be able to differentiate between the different types of hoarding.
While all types of hoarding must be addressed, identifying the type of hoarding can help the individual to overcome their situation.

But for others, there is no cycle. Whether the individual is financially successful or not, items from significant to no value become hoarded on the property. Over time, they will take over the entire living space, creating safety hazards, blockages, and emotional stress.

On the other hand, the individual who owns the excess amount of contents is often battling a worse issue than just a messy home. They find it emotionally straining to part with items – regardless of their value – due to a severe anxiety, an anxiety known as compulsive hoarding, or a hoarding disorder.

Different Types of Hoarding

But depending on the types of items within the home, they will identify with a certain type of hoarding disorder. Check out this list to see which type of hoarding they are struggling with.

The main types of hoarding include all of the following:

  1. Over-sentimental hoarding
  2. Animal hoarding
  3. Non-waste hoarding
  4. Research hoarding
  5. Collectors

1. Over-Sentimental Hoarding

While the issue of hoarding can result from a variety of different experiences, those who suffer from sentimental-hoarding are coping by allowing items that comfort them to accumulate. While the average person wouldn’t see these contents with a lot of financial value, they hold tremendous sentimental value for the individual.

Sentimental Hoarding Examples

Letting go of sentimental items is always difficult.
A parent of a deceased child may feel the need to hoard kids’ toys to feel comforted.
  • Parent losing a child. A common example of sentimental hoarding is a parent who had lost a child. They would continue to hold onto all of their belongings for months and even years after the child has passed. The parent may also feel the need to continue purchasing items, such as toys, clothes, books, etc., for the passed child in order to feel comfort from happy memories.
  • The end of a happy experience. Not everyone can mentally or emotionally let a happy experience come to an end. Whether they have been left by their significant other, been fired from a job, or their happy place perished in a fire, they will keep all items from that experience to help them continue living in that memory.
  • A want or desire. When the hoarder feels like they are currently missing something or lacked in an earlier stage of life they can hoard excessive amounts of a specific item to help fill the emotional gap.

It’s normal to hold on to an item or two to keep a reminder of an emotional or happy memory; however, when excessive amounts of belongings become accumulated within the home that prevent the individual from moving forward in life, their condition can be classified as sentimental hoarding.

2. Animal Hoarding

Despite the limits and restrictions on the number of animals allowed within a home, condo, or apartment, the realistic number for hoarders can greatly exceed these limits. When animals become malnourished or do not receive the care they need, their health and safety become jeopardized. The owner should only maintain the number that they are financially, physically, and mentally able to care for.

Dangerous Living Conditions

Animal hoarding does not actually help animals.
Any amount of animals for which the individual is unable to properly care for is considered animal hoarding.

The situation can even become dangerous for the animal hoarder. Despite their ability to love each pet, the individual is not providing a suitable living environment for which they deserve. The pets can also leave the living space covered in waste, biohazards, and bacteria, worsening the situation by the day. But despite these unlivable conditions, animal hoarders continue to believe they are providing what is best for their furry friends.

If you have a loved who is currently battling an animal hoarding disorder, it is crucial to talk to them right away about the dangers and risks of the environment they have created for themselves and the animals. They must understand the need for them to part with the majority of their pets as well as work with a professional hoarding cleanup team to restore their home.

3. Non-Waste Hoarding

There’s nothing wrong with throwing out expired or moldy food from the fridge or cabinet a few weeks or months past the expiration date. It’s even normal for the average person to feel bad about throwing away the remains of their dinner simply because they are full – but they still throw it out.

Those who refuse to throw away anything because they believe they can still use it in some way are often battling a severe issue. The following are examples of non-waste hoarding:

  • Hoarding food. Stocking up on food before a snowstorm or tornado is a smart idea, but letting it sit for months and even years in your cabinets or refrigerator is not. When hoarders allow food to accumulate within their home, they believe in a false event that is about to happen. This can include the fear of a food shortage, such as famine or inability to transport food. But what is really happening is that excessive amounts of food are left to sit on the property and create unsanitary conditions, threatening the health and safety of the affected individual. If you have a loved one that struggles with this issue, help them to understand that the food is being wasted when sitting untouched on the property.

    Non-waste hoarders believe thety can give second life to old items.
    Non-waste hoarders will try to reuse anything of which they believe to still have value.
  • Hoarding recyclables. The idea of hoarding recyclables doesn’t only include pop cans and cardboard boxes; affected individuals will keep any item for which they believe can be reused in the same or different way. They may also believe that allowing significant amounts of items to accumulate on their property will preserve natural resources and environment. Over time, their home will have turned into a storage unit for these belongings that blocks space for anything to be reused properly. It is up to the loved ones of these individuals to help them understand that they the items can never be used properly given the amount of open space on the property. There are local recycling centers that these items can be delivered to and they can even make some extra cash in the process! But a professional cleanup team would also be needed to restore the condition of the home.

4. Research Hoarding

There’s a big difference between an overflowing bookshelf and an overflowing home full of books. For those who like to have physical ownership of as much information as possible, their home can contain extreme amounts of the combined items:

Research hoarding is no less dangerous than other types of hoarding.
Individuals affected by research hoarding may feel the need to have access to as much information as possible.
  • Magazines
  • Books
  • Encyclopedias
  • DVDs/Blu-Rays
  • Newspapers
  • Brochures
  • Textbooks
  • Albums
  • CDs
  • Manuals

When hoarders allow these tangible sources of information accumulate in their home, they may feel inspired to find an old book lying around. They may also feel an emotional attachment to one or many articles or images in heavy, 500-page encyclopedias.

But the individual affected by research hoarding must come to understand that they will not use each book that has created piles that may stack up to their ceiling. They must also know that these stacks make it extremely difficult to find a particular book they are searching for.

Large amounts of books must be properly maintained, organized, and found easily, hence why the library is the perfect place for them. A professional hoarding cleanup team can help them sort through the piles, help them decide what to keep, donate, and throw away.

5. Collectors

While many collectors fret about whether or not they are hoarding or not, those who don’t consider the idea may be those who are affected. While the answer will ultimately vary upon a case-by-case basis, one can usually determine a hoarding situation when the items collected have no financial value.

Home decorations are often hoarded because they may look nice to the homeowner, but do more than just clutter up the home. But sadly for individuals affected by hoarding, they do not recognize the difference between furnishings decorations that add value to a home and those that only detract value and take up space.

Difference between collecting and hoarding

The line between a hoard and a colection is quite thin.
A collector will appreciate and know each item in their collection. A hoarder won’t know what they have in their home.

Another way to note the difference between hoarding and collecting is when the collector cherishes, uses, and appreciates each item within their collection. They will have a specific order, position, and information about each item within their setup, whereas as a hoarder may not be aware of the items in their “collection.”

As a result of the mess, it is common that hoarders are ashamed or embarrassed by the condition of their property. This is why they may not often have visitors or host events. But if their situation isn’t addressed soon enough, their living conditions will develop fire hazards, mold growth, and other safety hazards that may cause personal injury.

It is up to a trusted family or friend to help a hoarder realize the fact that they do not have an organized collection, but a hoard that must be removed for their health and safety.

The Dangers of Hoarding

While there are indeed multiple types of hoarding, all of them will create dangerous and unhealthy living conditions for everyone, including animals, on the property. Whether the hazards include fire risks, biohazards, mold, or personal injury, all compulsive hoarding must be recognized and addressed to protect the health and safety of the individual.

If you are a loved one to a compulsive hoarder, simply reaching out to them can change their life. Not only can their lifestyle be improved but you may help them to overcome an anxiety from which they have been suffering for years. Of course it will take time, but your love and support will provide more comfort and support than their belongings could ever provide.

Professional Cleanup Services

Professional hoarding cleaning can help affected individuals restore their lives.
The professionals of ServiceMaster Restoration by Century are experts in hoarding cleanup. They ensure to work with compassion and respect towards the individual at all times.

As soon as the affected individual is comfortable with the idea of getting help, contact a professional hoarding cleanup team to help sort through the hoard, organize the items, and disinfect the property. Simply restoring their living space to a safe and healthy environment again will even help to alleviate the emotional clutter they have been struggling with for years.

One such hoarding cleanup team includes ServiceMaster Restoration by Century. Their professionals will not only clean the home but have years of experience working with affected individuals. They ensure to work with compassion and respect throughout the entire service, never throwing away a single item without the approval of the individual. Give them a call for a free quote or for more information about how they can help to improve the living situation of your loved one.