Hoarders, Part 2 - Clutter and Trash


Yesterday I started a blog series on Hoarding. If you missed the post, please read it before jumping into this one, which is part 2.

We learned yesterday that my current house used to belong to a hoarder. That hoarder was my husband's uncle who lived here for 30+ years and passed away 2 years ago. This is my commentary based on my experiences, as we cleaned out the house of a hoarder.

One thing hoarders are known for is for making paths through the clutter. This case was no different. There was one path to the bedroom, the bathroom, the kitchen and to one chair in the living room in front of the TV. The front door was blocked. The den had long since been overtaken by piles of clutter. You could look into each room but most of the furniture was buried under the piles.

This is a picture of the living room, with the fireplace and bookshelves at the far end and a stairway heading upstairs in the foreground. There was no path to enter the room here. It was completely blocked with clutter, piled about 4 feet high. Furniture is buried. Windows are blocked.

This was the den, which is now my son's bedroom. Long-since dead plants by the windows -- can't water plants if you can't get to them! We were surprised to find two televisions and two recliners under all of this clutter. Christmas gifts and cards that were intended to be sent to grandchildren years ago but never got mailed. Lots of important papers were eventually found in here also.

Organization is not a strong suit for a hoarder. O
ften, the piles found around their home are in no real order. The pile may contain important documents, money, old newspapers, or other trash... or most likely a mixture of all of those things. This was definitely the case here. My husband's uncle had piles of money left throughout the house, but didn't remember where they were. He died. Now the family that was left to clean up the house had to sort through each pile and ask the question "Keep it or pitch it?" thousands of times!

This is a picture of the sunroom - a walkway between the garage and the dining room that was also overrun with stuff. Eventually the garage was filled with stuff and then the sunroom got filled up too, leaving no path to even get to the garage from inside the house.

Many hoarders value saving money. They often begin to hoard items because they think it will save them money in the long run. My husband's uncle wanted to save money too. So not only did he stockpile items (as we saw yesterday) but he also cancelled his trash service in his last 2 years of life, to save money. True trash - empty food containers, old newspapers and mail, empty boxes, receipts - were all strewn about the house. Imagine all of this trash added to the mixed piles mentioned above, where important documents or cash were stashed.

This is picture shows the kitchen. The fridge is in the back on the left. Then the wall oven. The kitchen sink is completely buried on the right side, under the window. Completely buried under trash. Empty medicine bottles, empty ice cream and carry-out food containers. Empty cans. All just left to sit and stink, for weeks and weeks on end! Go ahead and click on the above picture to see it magnified. You can just imagine the overwhelming stench of it!

Lesson #4
If you have to make a path through the stuff to move about your home, it's time to clean up! Start small. Find one space (maybe one corner of a room, or one closet) and start there. Find 3 containers or bags. Go through every item and make a decision about which bag it belongs in.
Bag 1 - Keep it
Bag 2 - Donate it
Bag 3 - Trash it
Be ruthless about clutter. It WILL NOT get better on its own.
You have to be intentional about getting rid of clutter! If the job seems overwhelming to you, ask someone to help you out and hold you accountable to getting the job done. I mentioned above that hoarders are often not very organized, so they may need a more organized person to help them sort through the mixed piles and clutter.

Lesson #5
Keep important things in one safe place. Keep your important documents (like passports, birth certificates, financial documents, wills, etc.) in a locked safe or a safety deposit box offsite. You need to be able to access these quickly, so keep all important stuff in one place. You also don't want these items lost, misplaced or stolen so keep that in mind when choosing a location.

Lesson #6
Listen to others. If you think you may have a problem with hoarding or if your family members are telling you that they are concerned about how much stuff you are bringing into your home... take it seriously. The clutter in a hoarder's home can be a fire hazard or cause injury if a pile falls on someone.

One more post in this blog series on hoarding coming tomorrow...


marineof2 said...

Oh my word! Wow. How long did it take to get everything out of the house?

Post a Comment