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Hoarding disorder is a far more common illness than previously thought, and the effects can be devastating. More than compulsive shopping, hoarding disorder or syndrome causes people to surround themselves with unreasonable amounts of personal material and goods. But the condition goes much farther than that.

What is Hoarding Disorder / Syndrome?

Some 1 in 50 people have a hoarding disorder, characterized by a persistent inability to discard possessions because they have a perceived significant value. Hoarding disorder can cause severe distress in the individual when making decisions to part with belongings.

Hoarding causes unsafe living conditions leading to narrow pathways and fire hazards. An excessive accumulation of materials and goods is often a direct result of this disorder. Clutter can often expand to the garage and storage units.

Hoarding disorder symptoms can be mild or severe, depending on how they affect an individual’s quality of life.

How Hoarding Affects Family and Friends

Hoarding disorder doesn’t just diminish the quality of life for the individual, it also affects the lives of family and friends.

Adult children of hoarders are often adversely affected by the condition—not knowing where to turn to for help. On a financial level, hoarding syndrome can affect property and relationships.

Relationships between the hoarder and friends and family are also affected as the individual’s life becomes smaller and smaller. Hoarders may view their own safety or that of their friends and family as second place to a “good deal.” As tensions rise, hoarders also struggle with feeling shunned, criticized and rejected by those they love the most. This furthers the cycle and causes them to seek safety and success in objects once again.

It comes as no surprise that hoarders have a limited social life. At home, they often overflow into other family member’s spaces. They also may use available items of furniture and shelving to store items.

Hope for Those with Hoarding Disorder

There is hope for those who hoard. Friends and family can take some important steps to help those with this disorder.

The first step is to educate yourself about the illness. This helps you shift from blaming the person to getting them the help they need.

Second, reach out to your loved one. Show them compassion and understanding. Be willing to compromise, continue to help them see their situation as it really is.

Third, seek out support. Sue Wallace’s team of experts can assist you and your loved one organize a “plan of care” that improves the quality of life for your loved one. She specializes in creating hoarding disorder plans that help individuals and families overcome the disorder.

For more information about hoarding disorder and how Sue and her team can help you, please contact Sue Wallace, CSA at 817-371-9640.