I've been too busy to post much lately, but I found this and just had to share with you. If you are living with someone you think might be a compulsive hoarder...here's a few excerpts from an article "How Compulsive Hoarding Affects Families" by Fugen Neziroglu, Ph.D, ABBP (Author of Overcoming Compulsive Hoarding) and Jerome Bubrick, Ph.D on the the Obsessive Compulsive Foundations's (OCF) Hoarding Web Site.
Their website has a wealth information and tips. Hope you find it helpful!
Living with someone who compulsively hoards can often be as stressful of a lifestyle as it is to actually be a compulsive hoarder...Clutter is one of the biggest contributors to family tension with regards to homes with hoarders. The loss of or elimination of functional living space as the result of clutter is one of the biggest bones of contention for families who live with hoarders...
Obviously, this lack of functional living space makes it impossible for families to be able to enjoy their own homes. Decreased or eliminated functional living space may mean that families are not able to use their kitchens to cook food and may, therefore, be dependent on ordering take out regularly. This can often lead to increased financial strain and obesity, because they are spending more money and taking in more calories than they would if they were grocery shopping and cooking.
... The issues brought up so far typically result in family members feeling frustrated, overwhelmed and resentful. However, there are other effects of compulsive hoarding that can actually affect the safety and well-being of families. For instance, compulsive hoarders and their families often experience headaches, respiratory problems (asthma, etc.) and allergies, all due to having excessive clutter.
...Certainly, the health and safety concerns associated with clutter can have tremendous affects on families. Embarrassment, frustration, resentfulness and hopelessness are just some of the emotions that family members feel with regards to hoarders. Often, they feel as though their home is not really their home. They are ashamed of the clutter, but often have little control over cleaning it and are essentially forced to live amidst chaos. Commonly, family members will get so frustrated with clutter that they will attempt to clean or organize without the consent of the hoarder, which invariably results in arguments and fights.
Children are often too embarrassed to have friends come over, or are not allowed to because of the hoarder's embarrassment. This can often lead to increased social isolation and resentment of the hoarder. Spouses often consider divorce or separation because of the extreme impairment in functioning.
Spouses often wonder what their responsibilities are to the children involved. The children feel torn between the parent who is the hoarder, and the parent who is not. They tend to keep the hoarding a family secret but feel depressed and angry and do not know what to do with their emotions. If the non-hoarding parent decides to ask for a divorce, a custody battle may ensue. Often pictures of the home are taken to court to convince the court that the home environment is not suitable for bringing up a child. The sufferer of hoarding is not only embarrassed but feels tremendous resentment which usually interferes with bringing up the child jointly.
Sometimes, a neighbor who becomes aware of the home situation may call child protective services. Under these circumstances, an investigation may be started, resulting in the possible removal of the children from the home unless one of the parents makes alternative living arrangements. Whether the child lives in clutter or is removed from the home, the end result is devastating. Unfortunately given all the negative consequences of living in clutter, the hoarder is usually very reluctant to seek treatment although effective treatment strategies are available.
The following are some suggestions for family members who are trying to persuade their reluctant hoarder to enter treatment:
You must make sure to reassure your family member that those clinicians who are familiar with the problem are not going to go into the house and start throwing things out. They are not going to take control of the possessions.
Well-trained clinicians will teach a method and work side by side with your loved one. If the compulsive hoarder does not want the therapist to go into the house initially, that is okay. It is a very gradual process.
If your family member does not want to even go for an initial consultation, it is suggested you go to the therapist several times to learn how to get him or her into treatment. ...
Read the whole article at the Obsessive Compulsive Foundations's (OCF) Hoarding Web Site
How Compulsive Hoarding Affects Families