Do you know someone who hoards? There is one simple question you can ask that may save their life.
Whenever we tell people that we are hoarding specialists, they tell us about their own experience with someone who hoards; often a family member, friend or client. Sometimes they had no idea the person was hoarding until they had cause to visit them at home and were shocked by what they found.
Each story is unique but almost every story had three common themes:
- Offers of assistance were resisted or flatly refused.
- Little or no change occurred.
- The helper felt frustrated and helpless.
In the worst-case scenarios, relationships broke down with the person who hoards doubling down their resistance to offers of help and isolating themselves from the people who care about them.
This is heart-breaking to hear. These people have good intentions and make genuine efforts to help, but what is lacking is the appropriate knowledge and skills to address the situation effectively. Nine times out of ten people concede that they didn’t even think to ask if the person had a working smoke alarm. And, we know that hoarded homes are less likely to have a smoke alarm* and 25% of all preventable fire deaths are in hoarded homes. So, this one simple question has the power to save a person’s life!
With a little bit of education anyone can learn to identify and remediate risks, assess a person’s willingness to change, and provide appropriate support to improve the safety of the home. They can also learn how to manage their own expectations. We might prefer the people we care about to live in a beautiful clutter free home but ultimately keeping people safe and healthy and nurturing relationships is a great result.
So, do you know someone who hoards? If you really care about them, invest in your education about hoarding and learn strategies that really work.
*“MFB Research (2014) found that only 28% of hoarding homes had a working smoke alarm. The study broke this down even further to show that 20% of these were in public housing properties that have 240V hard wired smoke alarms with 10 year back up batteries. When you take this into account, the figures for the ‘general population’ are quite alarming with only 8% of hoarding households having a working smoke alarm”.