Hoarding is the obsessive accumulation of personal belongings and affects as many as 14 million Americans.
This means that hoarding disorder is twice as common as obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Many researchers even consider this figure to be an underestimation.
Awareness is growing thanks to shows such as Hoarders and Hoarding: Buried Alive. Although, these shows tend to sensationalize hoarding for entertainment purposes. As with most mental health disorders, there are different levels of hoarding-and the key to recovery is spotting the early signs.
Here we explain the five levels of hoarding and how to get help.
The Five Levels of Hoarding
The Institute for Challenging Disorganization (ICD) devised the Clutter-Hoarding Scale. This scale divides hoarding disorder into five distinct levels.
Level I - Low
Homes at this level will have some clutter but not enough to block exits. Level one homes will also not include visible pests or their droppings, excessive pets or pet hair, nor any other hoarding dangers. Most of us have been at this level.
Level II - Guarded
At the second level, you're likely to see more signs of a cluttered home. These might include overflowing laundry or garbage containers. An exit blocked by clutter or occasional household pests may also be present.
Residents are likely becoming overwhelmed at this stage. Contracting a deep cleaning service can help keep early hoarding signs under control.
Level III - Elevated
This level marks the turning point from a cluttered household into a serious hoarding issue.
Homes at this level will often include at least one room dedicated to storage. Piles of objects obstructing living areas, insect infestations, and unattended spills and messes are also key signs. At this stage, a hoarding cleanup service is the best way to avoid the issue getting even more out of control.
Level IV - High
Excessive pets, rotting food, and frequent household pests mean that feces, urine, and other animal-related hoarding biohazards are often present at this level. Blocked exits and accumulated clutter are also potential fire hazards.
Those living in Level 4 conditions need immediate professional help to restore their home to a safe and hygienic living environment.
Level V - Severe
Once a home reaches this top level, you would need a team of fully-equipped professionals with biohazard cleanup experience. Some of the issues they're likely to encounter include no usable living spaces, no accessible exits, and extreme contamination.
Getting Help for Hoarding
Here at Bio-One, we specialize in the kind of hoarding assistance that restores your home to a safe, comfortable, and hygienic living environment. As hoarding is a mental health condition, though, it's important to address the underlying issue.
For example, many hoarders experience disposophobia--an extreme fear of getting rid of items. Learning how to recognize and deal with this fear or any other factors driving the hoarding behavior is crucial. With help from mental health professionals and a compassionate hoarding cleanup service, it is possible to overcome a compulsion to hoard.
For more information on our expert hoarding cleanup services, contact us here at Bio-One today!