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  • How Do Collectors Become Hoarders?

I was doing some research on how collectors become hoarders recently, and watching an episode of Hoarders on TV. The episode featured a woman who had so much clutter there was no room for her to sleep in her bed. It was disturbing to see her try to regain control over her house.

How Does Hoarding Happen?

Hoarding can start easily enough. My grandmother brought canned food into the house and filled her kitchen cupboards, then a pantry, and a cupboard under the stairs. She filled two deep freezers so that she wouldn’t run out of food.

At some point, hoarders stop sending as much out as they bring in. Things can easily deteriorate so they don’t have room to sleep in their bed, but they can’t bear to part with their possessions.

Collectors and hoarders both assign value to things. For a collector, the display is something they can enjoy. For a hoarder, they lose the ability to keep their items organized. Piles topple over, dust and grime gather. It’s not unusual for chairs, beds, and tables to be lost under piles of stuff.

People who survive through difficult times, including war, economic depression, or personal neglect, often try to compensate by making sure they never run out of things they feel are important.

The TV Approach

Sometimes hoarding is obscured by looking organized, and it’s hard to tell how out of control things really are. The hoarder may be living among stacks that are tidy, but gradually take over the house.

TV programs about hoarding often send a team to get the job done. A team is a great approach since hoarding isn’t just about a full house. Often, there are a lot of emotions involved in a hoarding situation. Having a team also helps spread the workload, since cleaning even a small space can take a lot of time, and it can be heavy work. Teamwork can also help give the family some much needed help, especially if the family members are arguing about what has to be done.

Just like it is on TV, hoarders are often pushed to make changes because they receive an eviction notice or their house gets condemned. We often work with people who want to live in a smaller home, or move into an assisted living space, but they cannot take all the things they have accumulated.

Do you have a collection? Is it something you enjoy, or something you tolerate? Are you able to manage it, or are your possessions taking over your home? If you need help deciding and you are in Alberta, Canada we’d love to chat with you. Just fill out the contact form here on our site.

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