A loved one in Toronto has a hoarding problem but they’ve agreed to hire a junk removal company. How can I help make this easier for them?

It is a difficult decision to finally get rid of all the junk that has been accumulating for years, especially if you are a collector of certain items, or if you are just one of those people who believe that there is a use for everything. When you are a hoarder living in Toronto, getting rid of your hoarding items has its own set of challenges.

What is hoarding?

Pathological collecting, or compulsive hoarding, is a mental disorder that is quite complex. It is a real illness, and not just a result of being too lazy to throw anything away. It is a pattern of behavior characterized by extravagant acquisition of numerous items, and the unwillingness or inability to get rid of large or small quantities of items which you no longer need or have little to no value. At least these items may seem this way to the rest of the world, while to the person who has the condition, each and every item is special and has meaning.

Since the mid-1990s mental health professionals have been trying to learn as much as possible about this condition. General awareness of the problem has increased in recent years thanks to coverage on TV programs and reality shows. There is not standard criteria for diagnosis by professionals as of yet since experts in mental health are still developing a diagnostic model. However, it has been determined that this type of behavior which is compulsive can be associated with risks to the hoarder’s health, economic burdens, impaired functioning, and also adverse effects on family members and friends.

According to experts, some of the risks that a hoarder, their friends and family, and the community may have to deal with include:

  • Health issues
  • Pest infestations or management issues
  • Unpleasant odours
  • Unsanitary environments
  • Homelessness or eviction
  • ER visits and hospital stays
  • Poor quality living conditions
  • Increased risk of fires

When a loved one is having a problem with hoarding, you need to understand that this is a traumatic decision for them. Deciding to get rid of all the items that have been collected is felt as a real loss by the hoarder. It is essential that their concerns are not simply swept under the rug, but are addressed in ways that will reduce their stress and also help to prevent another situation that will become intolerable.

How you can make junk removal easier for the hoarder?

As stated before, this is a serious condition and when the person who suffers from it finally makes the decision to have their junk hauled away, it will be difficult for them. There are a few things however that you can do to help.

Hire a junk removal company with caring professionals – it is important to make sure that whatever company you hire has professionals who are respectful of both the client and their property. If possible, let them know ahead of time that they will be dealing with a hoarder.

Don’t force the hoarder to be home for the junk removal if they do not wish to be. At Canada Junk, we do not require you to be home to conduct a junk removal so long as everything that is to be hauled away is clearly marked. Another alternative is to have a friend or family member be at the hoarders home while the hoarder is away. This will save them the trauma of having to watch their possessions being taken away.

The city itself is also committed to raising awareness in the community and educating the general public, policy makers, and service providers about the impact that hoarding can have on both the individual and the public, and the challenges that are faced. There are numerous resources, such as the Toronto Hoarding Coalition, which will work with the hoarder to find solutions and counseling services that are appropriate for each individual circumstance. Give them a call to get free advice on how to help your loved one.