Hoarding junk is sometimes hard to recognize. People often confuse being messy with being a hoarder, or vice versa. People often make excuses for hoarders or they tend to ignore the problem altogether. “She’s not a hoarder!” I once heard a cousin of a hoarder declare, “She’s just artistic!”
Hoarding is not a problem that should be ignored or written off as “being messy” or “being unusual”. Here are five warning signs:
1. Collecting Odd Items, Junk, and Trash
If a person goes out of their way to collect items that are broken beyond repair, serve no real use, or that are simply trash is a very large warning sign that someone is hoarding. Dragging garbage out of a dumpster or off a curbside and bringing it into a house is not normal behavior for any person.
2. Inability to Throwaway Items
Throwing things away is part of our every day life. We throw away garbage, trash, and broken items every day. But a hoarder often times can’t throw anything away. They’ll make excuses, “Oh I’ll fix that toaster.” They’ll rationalize, “But this food isn’t spoiled!” And a lot of times hoarders will simply refuse to throw anything away.
3. Distancing Oneself from Friends and Family
Hoarders often feel great shame about their hoarding behavior. They are often so ashamed of their hoarding they refuse to let anyone into their homes. Frequently hoarders cut themselves off from friends and family. And they’ll also use every opportunity to avoid having visitors inside their homes.
4. Collecting Too Many Animals
Does a person have a lot of cats or dogs? Ten or twenty? Do they all seem cared for or do they seem left to fend for themselves? Animal collection or animal hoarding is a very serious sign of hoarding. Animal hoarding should be reported to your local animal control or ASPCA.
5. Parts of a Home Become Unusable
Hoarders can fill up rooms and rooms with junk and trash. Are their parts of a house that have been rendered unlivable and un-passable by accumulation of junk? This is a sure sign that you are dealing with a hoarder who has a very advanced hoarding problem.