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What Does Mild Hoarding Look Like?

A home of a mild hoarder

Have you ever noticed that you or someone close to you has an unusual attachment to holding onto things that seemingly have no value? If you have noticed something like that, you might be dealing with someone who has a mild hoarding.

You’ll want to be cautious about citing hoarding disorder simply because someone saves certain items. It might be that they fancy themselves to be collectors or hobbyists. Where the line often crosses into hoarding disorder is when other strange behaviors come with the desire to collect.

What a lot of people might not be aware of is there are five levels of hoarding with level 5 being the most devastating level. In the discussions below, the conversation will focus on level 1 hoarding.

What is Mild Hoarding?

Hoarding is the act of obsessively saving or collecting items that others might deem as trash. It’s a very serious disorder that oftentimes can cause serious disruptions in how the hoarder lives. Many times, the things that a hoarder might collect have outlived their usefulness but the individual still has the need or desire to collect them.

Note: It is possible to hoard things that do have value. That might include things like canned goods or pets. In such cases, the hoarding can usually be identified by the excessiveness of the things that are being collected. To most people, having an entire closet full of canned corn will seem a bit strange.

Level 1 or mild hoarding is best defined as hoarding at a level that is somewhat still undetectable to the untrained eye. The obsessive collecting might seem a bit strange, but it hasn’t yet risen to the level of sending off red flags. It’s this lack of apparent indicators that opens the door for the hoarding disorder to start progressing to higher levels.

The Key Indicators of Level 1 Hoarding Disorder

Pile of Newspapers Accumulated bu A Hoarder

There is great value in gaining an understanding of level 1 hoarding and its key indicators. Why? Early detection of key indicators can be used as a catalyst for getting the hoarder the help they need before things have progressed too far. With that in mind, here are some of the key indicators of level 1 hoarding:

  • The individual has difficulty parting with certain types of items regardless of the volume of those items that they have accumulated
  • The individual often goes out shopping for items that they already have enough of on hand
  • There is no apparent blockage of the home’s doorways, stairs, and windows
  • There is nothing in the home is remitting any unpleasant odors
  • Home walkways are still accessible
  • The home still seems to be reasonably clean and organized

Looking at this list, your first instinct might be to think the last four indicators on this list are positive, proof a problem does not exist. While that might seem correct, this discussion is about level 1 hoarding. What usually happens is the first two indicators will start adversely affecting the last four indicators as the hoarding disorder progresses. To better understand this, let’s dig deeper into the six listed indicators.

Difficulty parting with certain items

Most hoarders will target one or two very specific items to satisfy their obsession to hoard. Once they adopt those items, they will typically collect them to excess. Furthermore, they will be resolute about not parting with anything as the collection grows. They will look for justifications to support their strange collecting behaviors.

Unnecessary obsessive shopping

Hoarders are very seldom satisfied with the volume of items they have collected. They will continue to make obsessively frequent visits to the store to keep buying more of their favorite item or items with no end in sight.

No blockage of the home’s doorways, stairs, and windows

There is yet little to no infringement on the accessibility of doorways, stairs, and windows because the accumulation of items remains contained and somewhat manageable. The blockage will start in the later levels of hoarding.

No foul odors being remitted

In this early stage of hoarding, the aging process of trash or pet feces has not reached the point of creating foul odors. However, odor issues are very likely to start at level 2 if the items being hoarded are subject to rotting or breaking down.

Home walkways are still accessible

As hoarding progresses, cluttering will usually become the most obvious clue that something is seriously wrong. With level 1 hoarding, the hoarding behavior has typically not been going on long enough for items to visibly pile up. At this level, the hoarder is likely doing a good job hiding their hoarding activities by throwing things in closets, cabinets, and drawers.

Home still appears clean and organized

When a hoarder begins to realize something is not quite right with their hoarding behavior, embarrassment is the first emotion they might experience. They will typically respond to this uneasy feeling by trying to cover up their hoarding activities. Many of them will do that by trying to keep the house looking clean and organized. In some cases, their embarrassment will drive them to become better housekeepers than they were before their hoarding disorder took hold. Unfortunately, cleaning can only cover up so much hoarding before it’s not enough.

Importance of Treating Mild Hoarding

Hoarding Help

In the later stages of hoarding disorder, some very serious life problems can occur. These problems can lead to a total disruption of the hoarder’s life. Some of the most serious problems that could occur are:

  • Trouble in personal relationships
  • Exposure to health problems due to pollutants and bacteria
  • Danger of injury due to tripping over clutter and debris
  • Invitation for pest to invade the home
  • Legal issues with landlords and homeowners associations

Recognizing the early signs of hoarding disorder creates the opportunity for the hoarder to get treatment before things progress into the danger zone. Level 1 hoarding is where a hoarding disorder starts. In almost every case, it will progress if not treated.

If you or a loved one are showing any of these level 1 hoarding indicators, you don’t want to waste time. Get help or help your loved one get help.

Clutter Trucker is Here to Help

At Clutter Trucker, we specialize in junk removal and cleaning up of messes. That includes providing decluttering and clean-up services to address issues created by an individual’s hoarding disorder.

Clutter Trucker team

Through our years of service, we have done work for a lot of people who were dealing with hoarding disorder issues. We learned to have great compassion for them as they continue to fight the good fight to get past their hoarding. For our part, we are happy to come in and provide our services to help them get their homes back in order.

For a fresh start, please don’t hesitate to give Clutter Trucker a call at at 720-802-6340 in Denver or 719-372-5009 in Colorado Springs.