The Truths of Hoarding

Author: Megan and Amanda Boccardi

People tend to watch the show Hoarders: Buried Alive and think to themselves that the show is staged and fake. "How could someone live like that? That cannot be real!" It is real and even more extreme in real life. Bio-One sees the worst of the worst conditions- people call us when it has gotten so bad they need a bio-hazard remediation company to come in and fix the problem. Calls do not typically come in for us to help with a slight degree of clutter however no job is too big and no job is too small for Bio-One to take on. We, Bio-One STC, have seen so many things at our hoarding jobs that we have been told we could write a book. Writing a book would not be to bring shame to any of our previous clients but to bring awareness to this illness that plagues our country and that goes untreated. Swept under the rug and hidden from society many hoarders feel their struggle goes unnoticed.

Just this week our crew is working on a hoarding job in Sauget, Illinois approximately an hour from our office (we travel where we are needed). This particular job hit our hearts with an urge to help this family in need. A woman and her son live in a home by themselves- the woman is approx. 70 years of age and the son is in his 40s. They both are hoarders who do not throw trash away. On top of mounds of trash and debris in the home, there is rodent feces everywhere. When I say everywhere, I mean everywhere- caked on the floors, on the furniture, on the debris- basically on every surface of the home. If you are not aware yourself, rodent feces carries several diseases which some can be spread via airborne. There are dogs in the home that are not well cared for who also use the home as a bathroom. The woman has had horrible health problems and was just released from the hospital from contracting Sepsis and going into Septic Shock. Her sister and family are desperate to get the home remediated because they are afraid their sister will die in the home if it is left in the current condition- so our crew is there to fulfill the families needs.

When I stated before in a previous blog that Bio-One helps save lives- I was not being facetious. People get sick and die in these hoarded homes at sometimes young ages due to the bio-hazards that live, grow, and thrive in those kind of conditions- such as mold, feces, contractual infections, and lets not leave out the physical hazards of climbing over a hoard or a hoard falling on someone trapping them. You think these conditions are rare? I did too until I stepped into the Bio-One world. We, Bio-One STC, get calls each week for hoarding bids- and they are rarely for homes with a slight clutter problem.

Hoarders have this stigma that they cannot shake mainly because people are unaware of what causes the desire to hoard. These people are not 'crazy' nor are they any different from you or I. Many times hoarders have OCD on the opposite spectrum and unfortunately for them there is no medication to control their unstoppable urge to buy and not release. I have found with experience that many hoarders are hoarding due to a significant loss and do not know how to deal with their pain and grief other than to surround themselves around things. There are many illnesses, diseases, ailments that exist in this world that can be treated, yet for these people who hoard, they have no special pill to curb their appetite for slow destruction- destruction of their health, their home, and their relationships. All we can do is help get their home to a safe condition, and help the family understand that the problem is not fixed, it is just now being dealt with. Constant check ins of the hoarder from family members and even something as simple as hiring a maid service to come in once a week can help the hoarder live with their illness yet also keep their hoarding tendencies in better check.

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