Characterized by an excessive stockpiling or collecting of things, hoarding is a serious disease that is classified as a mental health illness. It affects an estimated 19 million Americans, and unfortunately compulsive hoarding is often misunderstood and misdiagnosed.
Hoarding affects the look of a person's home and possibly their bank accounts because of the constant buying and accumulating, but it can also pose many dangers that you may not be familiar with. If you have a loved one who is a hoarder, here are a few surprising dangers of this disorder and how professional cleaners can help.
1. Health Risks
First and foremost, a large array of things in the home will make it difficult to clean. Dirt and dust will build up on all of the items stacked and piled in the home, affecting the air quality and causing allergy symptoms, such as sneezing, coughing, itchy and watery eyes, and even breathing difficulty.
If your loved one is hoarding wood items, paper, or food, they are at an even greater risk of health problems. Moisture can affect wood, paper, cardboard boxes, and even clothing, causing items to warp and decay. This moisture can also lead to mold growth, which can cause asthma and severe respiratory issues.
Finally, if your loved one hoards food, other health risks to become more concerning. If your loved one does not keep this food organized and stored properly, they may consume the food without realizing it is old and has started to spoil. Consuming spoiled foods can lead to abdominal cramps, vomiting, diarrhea, nausea, headaches, and even dehydration that can be dangerous.
If pests are in the home, an abundance of urine and fecal matter that carries harmful germs and bacteria can build up. Exposure to this bacteria can cause allergic reactions and even life-threatening diseases.
Your loved one and their guests could also have an increased risk of slipping, tripping, falling, and injuring themselves simply because of the clutter in the house.
Professionals are trained to clean out the debris in a manner that does not affect anyone's health and wellness.
2. Home Damage
The accumulation of so many belongings, no matter what these items are, adds weight that affects the structural integrity of a home. The house of your loved one may begin to show visible signs of this structural damage, such as buckling floors or cracks in the walls and foundation.
Piles of clutter and debris can also become nests, attracting different types of insects and rodents. And if an excessive amount of moisture or food residue is present, the house may become infested with cockroaches and mice.
Over time, insects, such as termites and roaches, and rodents, such as mice and rats, can dig through the home's drywall, furniture, or insulation, causing even more damage to the home. Many rodents are capable of chewing through electrical wiring, increasing the risk of a house fire.
Removing the clutter is key to determining the extent of home damage so repairs can be made.
3. Legal Issues
If your loved one is renting their home or apartment, the landlord has a right to inspect the property periodically. If the property is not up to their standards, they may be evicted.
Of course, if your loved one owns their home, their hoarding can still lead to legal issues. In most cities and counties, stipulations will determine if a house is livable or it is should be condemned. For example, authorities may make your loved one move out of the home until it is livable. This may involve performing a detailed clean up that ensures paramedics and firemen are able to enter the home safely and freely in the event of an emergency.
Professionals can help rid your loved one's home of clutter, making it safe, healthy, and livable. For more information, contact Appalachian Restoration & Cleaning.