How Hoarding Affect Families

Hoarding is the difficulty to discard or part with a possession, regardless of its actual value. This behaviour has a dangerous effect on the emotional, physical, social, financial, and even legal, aspects for a hoarder and their family. For those who hoard, the quantity of their collected items sets them apart from other people. Commonly hoarded items are newspapers, magazines, paper and plastic bags, cardboard boxes, photographs, household supplies, food, and clothing.

However, the effects of hoarding on other family members were rarely examined or understood. Only recently, it has been confirmed that hoarding is more common than we once thought. Hoarding disorder (HD) affects an estimated 2% to 5% of the general population. Here are some of the effects of hoarding on families.

Increased Family Conflicts

Major conflicts occur when hoarding results in a loss of usable living space, especially in shared areas such as the kitchen and living room. Some of the usable places include furniture appliances, countertops or any spaces without interference by clutter. Another conflict arises when there is a rise of financial strain resulted from excessive shopping in order to get more things, and the possible need to get storage facilities such as chests, lockers, garages and shed. Thus, allocation of money for purchases that are not discussed (and which is not necessary) may lead to maxed out credit cards and increasing debts.

The third area of conflict can happen when the individual who is the hoarder “claims” parts of the home as their own, taking it over with hoarded items and controlling how space is used. This extends to exerting control over how the hoarding items are handled, with the individual with HD not letting other family members make decisions about their own home. This can lead to feelings of helplessness, frustration, anger, and vulnerability among family members.

Safety issues

Safety issues arise from excess clutter. In fact, there are several safety issues that families of hoarders face every single day. First, it is fairly common to have such excessive clutter that pathways need to be constructed through the clutter in order to navigate through the home. It is commonplace for these pathways to become obstructed by fallen clutter or new clutter, which can result in people tripping and injuring themselves. Also, if clutter is on stairwells, there is a significant risk of slipping and falling downstairs. Clutter causes fire hazards, including the inability to leave the home quickly in case of fire or other emergencies. The inability to locate a fire extinguisher when needed, and blocked doorways are dangerous. Overall crowding space with unnecessary things can even lead to death.

Children of Hoarders

Children of hoarders are the most affected as they see their parents as role models. Hoarding around children can be dangerous because they will end up as hoarders when they grow up. Nonetheless, the children of hoarders might have to change their lifestyles to suit that of their parents. Hoarders usually have no space in the house and their children might have to look for some other place to carry out their normal activities or not do them at all, limiting them in a huge way. There are some cases where the children of hoarders can end up saving their parents from the condition. One of the main reasons for this is the love that is shared between parents and children. The children may point out politely to their parents that there is a problem and since they love them so much they might be open to reason.

Hoarding Turns Tragic When Animals Are Involved

Some hoarders choose to collect as many animals as they can acquire. Not only does this contribute to unsanitary conditions, but it’s also cruel and neglectful to the animals. In many cases where animal hoarding is an issue, distressed animals can easily die from their desperate situations. This senseless loss is compounded by the hoarders’ inability to recognise that their behaviour is doing more harm than good to pets they profess to love.


Hoarding is a difficult behaviour to overcome because most people do not realise that they are hoarders.  However, the right treatment could make a world of difference in their lives. In the meanwhile, do take the time at least once a year to declutter your home and ensure a better peace of mind.


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Photos: Jewel92, Well doing and Unsplash




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