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Understanding the 5 Levels of Hoarding

Posted by SimplifyMe on January 2, 2020 in Decluttering, Organizing |

Happy New Year! Our first blog of the year comes from Jennifer Hanzlick of Clutter Trucker. They are a junk removal and hoarding cleanup company in the Denver area.

Most people are familiar with clutter, messy rooms, excess junk in the garage and the occasional backed-up sink or broken refrigerator. Everyone has faced an unkempt home at one time or another, whether it’s the result of a big party or a temporary aversion to house-cleaning.

The point is, for 99 percent of the population, a messy home is a temporary, rare situation. For people who suffer from a psychological problem called “hoarding disorder,” it’s an everyday reality. Professionals have studied the condition in detail and categorize sufferers into five distinct groups, referred to as the “levels of hoarding.”

Here are the key points about each level, beginning with Level One, the least serious of all, and ending with Level Five, the most dangerous of all.

The Levels of Hoarding

  • Level One: The sufferer doesn’t like to throw things away and often buys items for which they have no apparent need. The space only has light clutter but no blocked entryways or walkways. It’s hard to notice hoarding at this early stage.

  • Level Two: People at this stage don’t allow visitors, are often embarrassed by the clutter, have a few blocked walkways or exits in the home, and are unable or unwilling to clean the residence.

  • Level Three: Sufferers at this stage often have emotional problems, eating disorders and live in an extremely cluttered, unsanitary space. Fleas and other pests can be a problem, bathrooms might be non-functional and there are strong odors everywhere.

  • Level Four: Serious hygiene and mental health problems are apparent in level four, along with mold, mildew, sewage problems, excessive clutter, various pests, animal waste, blocked exits and unusable rooms.

  • Level Five: The home is not fit for habitation, sewers are backed up, bathrooms are unusable, all space is cluttered, walls are broken and there are numerous fire hazards within the residence.

How To Deal With the Problem

There are two steps to the process for handling a hoarding situation. The first is to get psychological help for the sufferer as quickly as possible. The second involves cleaning up the residence so that people can live in it without the danger of acquiring an infection or illness of any kind. Proper, comprehensive cleanup also opens the space up and allows for easy passage from room to room, unobstructed entry and exit, and a sanitary living area for all who reside in the home.

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