Compulsive hoarders are different because they save items many others think are ‘useless’. However, value is in the eye of the beholder, and they have great difficulty getting rid of their beloved ‘collections’
These accumulations grow as a result of this reticence. Their life and work spaces can eventually become uninhabitable according to Med Circle. Hoarders are oblivious of this fact because to them everything is the way they want it.
The Five Stages of Compulsive Hoarding
The National Study Group for Challenging Disorganization provides education, research, and strategies to benefit people challenged by chronic disorganization. They say there are five distinct stages of hoarding. They have developed a scale to help understand the condition. What follows may be unsuitable for sensitive people.
First Stage of Hoarding
During the first stage there are only small amounts of clutter and no remarkable smells. There may be a few animal waste areas. However, access to doors and stairwells is still clear.
Second Stage of Hoarding
Indications of stage two include a blocked exit, and at least one appliance not working for six months. The clutter is in more than in one room or passage way. There is also light mildew fungus in the bathroom and the kitchen.
Other signs include light pet odours, poor pet care, household rodents, dirty food-preparation areas, and overflowing garbage cans. Compulsive hoarders may feel ashamed about this, withdraw from social contact, and become anxious or depressed.
Hoarding During the Third Stage
The compulsive condition becomes public knowledge as the clutter extends outside the home. There may for example be a broken television or an abandoned vacuum cleaner in the garden.
There may be signs of light structural damage to the living space. The pets are neglected. Fleas and spiders begin to invade the home. One room is abandoned completely as dust, dirty laundry, and a prevailing stench overtake the house.
The hoarder begins to suffer personally as poor hygiene and weight issues overtake them. Toxic fumes, rodent droppings, and visible mould may infect them. They could become angry when someone challenges them about this.
Compulsive Hoarding in Stage Four
The home is deteriorating fast. There is heavy mould and mildew throughout. Structural damage has not been attended to for six months and the sewage is backing up. A large number of pets may have taken over the bedroom.
There is rotting food lying around. The place is filthy with no signs of washing up. The rat and flea-ridden house is becoming dangerous with fire hazards and blocked exits. Personal hygiene may be a thing of the past.
The mental state changes. The compulsive hoarder is oblivious of their surroundings. These things no longer matter. They are content with their nostalgic memories. They may focus their emotional energy on grandiose plans.
Stage Five Hoarding: The Terminus
The hoarder has left all semblance of generally-accepted living behind. They may have no electricity or water. Their home is a fire hazard by all accounts. The building is suffering increasing structural damage. The fridge is not working.
Clutter overflows in the bathroom and kitchen. There are more pets than allowed by bylaws. The woodwork is rotting. Personal hygiene has broken down. The entire home is a toilet. The once-proud person is in desperate need for help.
The better way would have been for someone to intervene during the early stages of this condition when there was still hope. This is why we publish these informative posts. No one deserves to end their life this way.