Hoarding is a mental health concern, as well as a legal, health, and safety concern. It’s estimated that between one and a half and six per cent of the Canadian population has a hoarding problem. Without treatment and intervention, both the behaviour and living conditions will deteriorate.

1.5-6%

estimated number of Canadians who experience hoarding

While some people who hoard may not be concerned by their behaviour, often the financial, legal, social, emotional and physical effects of hoarding create distress, both for the affected individual and other people in their lives.

The possessions of a person who hoards are often stacked in un-categorized piles, in locations unrelated to their use or purpose. Many people who hoard have difficulty processing information, which can make tasks like organizing, sorting and categorizing particularly challenging.

What do people hoard?

People commonly hoard household items like newspapers and other paper items, clothing, plastic bags, items of sentimental value, mechanical parts, furniture, containers, etc. Hoarding of animals can occur, though it is not a frequent occurrence.

Successful solutions to hoarding require:

1. Inviting Collaboration

Tackling the clutter and hoarding behaviour, is often best approached as a team, in which the person who hoards makes choices about sorting/discarding with input from others offering emotional and hands-on support.

1. Inviting Collaboration

Tackling the clutter and hoarding behaviour, is often best approached as a team, in which the person who hoards makes choices about sorting/discarding with input from others offering emotional and hands-on support.

2. Hoarding Treatment

Helping someone who hoards to learn new ways to organize their things and acquire skills to manage the distress brought about by letting go of possessions. This is often achieved by way of a type of psychotherapy called cognitive-behavioural therapy.

3. Cleaning & Decluttering

For someone who hoards, the skill of discarding typically takes time and practice to learn. Decluttering may be a lengthy process. In some situations where there is an urgent need to declutter (due to hazardous conditions or an eviction risk, for example), a more involved decluttering/cleaning service may be required.

When hoarding becomes problematic

Everyone has their own preferences and style when it comes to belongings: some people prefer to hang onto things, while others prefer keeping very few possessions. Hoarding behaviour becomes problematic only when it begins to create difficulties in life such as under any of the following conditions:

The home is so full of saved items that it is difficult to enter, exit or fully function in the space.

Bug and/or rodent infestations cannot be treated or re-occur due to the amount of clutter.

Falls or other injuries are occurring in the home due to clutter.

Eviction has been threatened, is imminent, or has taken place due to the volume of clutter or associated difficulties with maintaining the structure and cleanliness of the home.

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