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The Impacts of Hoarding in Families

Life can be a dreary experience for children whose parents love to hoard. The home suddenly becomes overly cluttered and it can be quite uncomfortable to live in. Not only that, but hoarding also exposes the family to unwanted pollutants and health risks. Children are susceptible to a number of different diseases due to the excessive clutter where bacteria, dust mites, and allergens thrive.

When this happens, proper counseling is required for the parents to be informed of the negative impacts of hoarding. If the hoarding has become too severe, professional hoarding cleaning services may be required to fully clean and sanitize the home. The information here will help provide valuable insight on how to effectively deal with a hoarder, which is essential for re-establishing a clean and healthy home.

Understand that hoarding is a psychological issue

Dealing with a hoarder can be quite a frustrating experience, but it’s important to realize that the problem is rooted from a psychological issue. People around hoarders might appear confused because of their actions, especially children who don’t want to be surrounded with clutter. There are a number of reasons why people hoard and some of these include:

  • Being overly attached to items that are of lesser value. They feel a sense of loss when the item is thrown away, even if it’s not important.
  • Having a sense that the item has an inherent value, much like the feeling of seeing a piece of artwork or mural.
  • Making assumptions that the item might prove useful someday, causing them to save far more than what they need.

It’s important to consider the situation from the hoarder’s perspective. In most cases, hoarding can be attributed to obsessive-compulsive personality disorder (OCPD), attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and even depression. Understand that hoarding can go beyond these disorders and may sometimes be caused by a traumatic experience. The issue must be dealt with accordingly in a compassionate manner to help restore the home back to its normal state.

Consequences of hoarding in families

The effects of hoarding can vary depending on how severe the situation is. Here is how hoarding can affect families:

  • Social exclusion brought about by a cluttered home.
  • Financial difficulties due to excessive buying and misplaced bills.
  • Exposure to harmful bacteria and diseases because of the clutter.
  • Risk of tripping over objects.
  • Fire hazards due to blocked heaters and outlets.
  • Conflict with family members that could ruin relationships.
  • Face legal matters due to endangering children or animal cruelty.

How hoarding can compromise your health and safety

Aside from the emotional distress, the family’s health is also at risk when a hoarder keeps excessive items. As the clutter continues to grow, common irritants increase as well (e.g. dust, pet hair, dirt, grime, and bacteria.) Spilled liquids can be hard to clean which can result in mould and mildew growth. This can lead to a variety of health issues such as:

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  • Watery eyes and runny nose
  • Allergic reactions to dust and mould spores
  • Breathing problems
  • Common colds and flu
  • Infections

Personal hygiene can be quite difficult to maintain and the unsanitized environment may weaken the immune system of some family members, especially children. This can lead to other serious diseases that may even become life-threatening if the home isn’t cleaned or sanitized.

In most homes where hoarding is a serious issue, the quality of air surrounding the home is severely affected. Polluted air and foul odours may surround key areas of the home such as the kitchen, living room, and bedroom. Overall quality of life is reduced and performing every day tasks can be very challenging.

Open communication is important

For families where an individual has hoarding problems, discussing the matter with an open mind is vital to resolving the problem. Going about the matter with an aggressive behaviour might make things worse. Have an open discussion with the hoarder and talk about how their behaviour is affecting the family as a whole.

Hoarding is usually tied to a number of different disorders and the psychological issue should best be treated with professional counselling. For the hoarders, the process will be much easier if the family members assist them in breaking their bad habits. Counselling can also benefit children and other family members to understand the situation and how to approach it in the best way possible.

How family members can cope from an individual with a hoarding disorder

In the face of a stressful situation, there are a couple of ways for family members to cope from someone who suffers from hoarding disorder. Here are some suggestions:

  • Express the negative impacts in a compassionate manner to the hoarder.
  • Be assertive in expressing your feelings about the whole situation.
  • Understand that hoarding is caused by a psychological disorder.
  • Help the family recover from the hoarding disorder through professional counseling.
  • Seek out positive ways on interacting with the hoarder.

Restoring order to the home

Once the hoarder has undergone a successful therapy, the next step is to restore cleanliness and order within the home. If the clutter has gotten to the point to where it’s impossible to clean, it’s best to leave it up to the professionals. Professional cleaners offer hoarding cleanups that effectively sanitize and remove harmful contaminants that are a result of excessive hoarding.


The impacts of hoarding can severely affect family relationships. It’s best to help the hoarder become aware of the negative effects of hoarding and guide them through proper counselling to restore a safe and organised living space that every family member can enjoy.