What is Hoarding Disorder and how can we help?


Hoarding is not the same as collecting:

The first distinction we need to make is that Hoarding is not the same as collecting.
While most of us collect things as a hobby or for sentimental reasons — anything from coins to coasters, the biggest difference is how the collecting affects our daily life. As a personal interest, collecting can be very enriching, providing entertainment and opportunities for learning, However, some people’s excessive compulsion to collect and keep things can have a negative impact on several aspects of their everyday life.

So, what is Hoarding?

As a formal definition, Hoarding becomes a disorder when someone has a compulsion to acquire and collect too many things and has difficulty letting go or throwing out things that are out of date or no longer functioning.  This over accumulation impacts their health and wellbeing; hinders their ability to lead a fulfilling social life, impedes the normal use their homes and often adds conflict to their relationships plus the chance of community problems.

Are Hoarding and OCD the same thing?

The short answer is No. In the past, Hoarding Disorder was identified as sub-type of OCD, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder due to the compulsion to acquire things, but the added difficulties organizing and discarding their collection makes this disorder unique. In some cases, hoarding conditions develop as a consequence of OCD but they are independent conditions.

But, what causes hoarding?

Today we know that they are genetic and  neurobiological factors involved in this condition and the child of a person that hoards have chances to develop the disorder at some point of their lives. Science also has shown that besides OCD, Hoarding Behavior has links to Depression and Anxiety

Hoarding is not the same as messy or disorganized

Hoarding ranges from mild to severe. In some cases, hoarding may not have much impact on everyday life and can be confused with just domestic disorder, while in other cases it seriously affects functioning on a daily basis due to lack to access to basic services in the home like bathroom, kitchen or a space where to sleep properly and the general unsanitary conditions.

Please Remember:

Hoarding is not a flaw of character, is a condition

Very often, people with hoarding disorder may not see it as a problem until family and friends start worrying about the situation and decide to intervene. Besides the actual clearing and cleaning of the home, psychological support is recommended to help people with hoarding disorder understand how their beliefs and behaviours can be changed so that they can live safer, more enjoyable lives.


Types of Hoarding


Understanding what is hoarded and why, truly helps to discern risks and strategies to deal with the situation, but in any case, respect and compassion are fundamental at the time to attempt to help the person to start a new healthy lifestyle. Also, as many times hoarding can reveal or imply other underlying mental and physical health issues, a consultation with a healthcare professional is always recommended.


General massive accumulation of diverse items like paper, rubbish, furniture and like, often leading to unsanitary conditions restricting the habitability and functionality of the home partially or totally.

As the maintenance of the house is abandoned, structural problems start happening.  Problems like leaking roofs, defective electric wiring, blocked toilets and broken water taps are very common. Due to the large accumulation of items, the residents are forced into a corner where it will become difficult to undertake everyday living tasks like cooking, bathing, cleaning, and sleeping. This leads to poor personal hygiene and insufficient nutrition negatively affecting their health and wellbeing. The person normally changes their behaviour trying to adapt to the circumstances  and activities like getting ready for work, study or socializing with friends and family are also severely impaired.

Animal Hoarding:

When the person keeps more animals than the quantity he/she is able to care for properly according to the size of the dwelling, particular needs of those animals and local legal limits. Although cruelty is not intended, the pets are often neglected and the accumulation of biological matter possess a health hazard making it a delicate situation.

Paper Hoarding

Can be anything from old newspapers and magazines to catalogues. This category can be further down into mail and information hoarders to fine tune the adequate solutions to the problem.

Food Hoarding:

Excessive accumulation of food items ranging from cans, packets and fresh items. A special complication with this area is the putrefaction of out of date items turning into rubbish with the health hazard involved.

Shopping Hoarding:

The compulsive acquisition of items whatever clothes, shoes, household appliances, novelties and such can lead to cramped homes (and very depleted finances!)

Rubbish and Recycling Hoarding

The old saying “someone’s trash, someone’s treasure” applied to the limits.

The person has extreme difficulty discarding items that have not real value and even carry sanitary or fire hazards.

Diogenes syndrome,

Also known as senile squalor syndrome, is a disorder characterized by extreme self-neglect, domestic squalor, social withdrawal, apathy, compulsive hoarding of garbage or animals, and lack of shame. Sufferers may also display symptoms of catatonia.

As you can see, every situation is different as the person facing the problem and helping a person that hoards involve so much more than cleaning the house.
Is important to address not only the physical aspect and make the home liveable again but also provide emotional support with a respectful and caring approach.

We need to have in account the overall health and wellbeing of the person, their families and the impact of the situation in their communities. That’s why our model offers a holistic approach including and integrating the person thinking patterns, their emotions and behaviours. Mind, heart and actions are all intertwined and cannot be separated.


APA ©:



A plan created just for you

We understand that special situations require special solutions. Hoarding scenarios often imply shame and guilt to the point that the person feels overwhelmed and find very difficult to ask for help. Our approach is respectful, caring and nonjudgmental.  Hoarding Rescue especial APA © program is designed to improve the living conditions and wellbeing of the persons suffering with hoarding disorder and help them to quick start a new, healthy, lifestyle.


At the moment of your contact, a case manager is assigned and an assessment interview arranged.

While visiting your home, your case manager will use diverse tools like the Clutter Rate Scale (CRS) to assess your needs, concerns and evaluate the situation like size of the dwelling, type and complexity of the hoard, present health and hazards, possible risks and so forth.


Using the data previously collected, a Recovery Plan is created. Every plan is unique as the home and situation addressed and may involve any of all of the services listed below

  • Clutter clearing and Heavy-Duty Cleaning.
  • Professional organizing. Item sorting.
  • De-cluttering and organizing skill training.
  • Clutter counseling and coaching.
  • Document shredding and disposal.
  • Rubbish removal.
  • Donation coordination.
  • Storage selection and installation.
  • Trades repair coordination (pest control, handyman, painters, etc).


Our team of cleaners, clutter counselors and professional organizers will put hands to work in the execution of the plan until completion. They are specially trained and have a wealth of experience helping people in similar situations.

Holistic Approach: Your health and safety first

Effectively helping in a Hoarding situation takes so much more than cleaning up the house. That’s why we work in close collaboration not only with the client, but also with their families and different community agencies. Depending on the circumstances, we will work in alliance with:

  • Housing Department
  • Public health (including environmental health)
  • Mental health
  • GP’s and allied health related practitioners.
  • Legal services
  • Protective services (including child, adult and elder)
  • Elder/aging services
  • Fire safety and Fire Departments
  • Animal control and animal protection services

Although members of each of these professions may become involved for somewhat different reasons, the underlying intention is the same – to protect the health and safety of the individuals living with and affected by hoarding disorder and their families.


Maintenance and Follow Up Service

After everything is done and your home looks orderly and smells fresh, a maintenance service can be arranged to look after your housekeeping and cleaning needs in a weekly or fortnightly basis.


Privacy assurance

Your privacy is paramount and all documents and communications are kept confidential. Photos are only shared with your consent and will keep personal identification obscured.  Pertinent information is only disclosed with the relevant parts involved in the service process following the principles and limitations of the Privacy Act.

Your well-being is our priority and we are here to support you in the journey towards recovering your home and starting a healthier lifestyle. If you or someone you love are experiencing difficulties with clutter and hoarding, give us a call today and discover how can we help.

Want to know more about hoarding?
Below you can find some links to useful information websites regarding hoarding




If you are ready to move from overwhelm to freedom, drop us a line using the form below and let’s get the conversation started.