Hoarding is a complicated condition highlighted by the obsessive and irrational need to keep things like trash and excessive belongings. The National Study on Compulsive Disorganization has developed a scale that defines the levels of hoarding to aid professionals and affected individuals in determining the severity of the problem.
What is Level 3 Hoarding?
Level 3 hoarders can’t see the severity of their situation and downplay the dangers presented by their hoarded home. People that have created level 3 hoards are often combative when confronted with the reality of their situation.
The characteristics of level 3 hoarding are:
- Poor Personal Hygiene
- An Excessive Number of Pets
- Evident Flea, Spider or Rodent Infestation
- Strong Odors in the Hoarder’s Home
- There is So Much Stuff that Tidying Up Isn’t Possible
- Extremely Soiled Flooring
- One or More Unusable Bathrooms or Bedrooms
- Hallways Are Narrowed
- Accumulation Outside of the Hoarded Home
- Two or More Items in Disrepair for 6 Months
- Light Structural Damage in the Hoarder’s House
Some of these characteristics are defined in the earlier stages of hoarding but have increased in intensity as a person passes through the various stages.
Poor Personal Hygiene
Due to obtrusive piles of stuff and broken plumbing, personal hygiene is visibly declining. Dirty clothes are worn, teeth are not being brushed, bathing isn’t occurring as frequently as it should, and the toilet may not work. This is the first stage where the declining hygiene of a hoarder becomes visible. Visitors and friends, whether inside or outside of the hoarded property, will start to wonder why the hoarder isn’t taking care of themselves.
An Excessive Number of Pets
The number of animals in the house now overwhelms the hoarder’s ability to care for them. Pet excrement will be throughout the house and not centralized into a few locations. Feces and urine will be present on items within the hoard itself. The animals themselves may start suffering from medical ailments that the owner cannot pay for due to the daily upkeep cost on their hoarded animals. Pets will not be adequately spayed or neutered, increasing the risk of the animal population exploding beyond what already exists.
Evident Flea, Spider or Rodent Infestation
Pests can be seen in the home. Fleas are found on furniture, spider webs exist between objects in the hoard, and rodents will occasionally be seen jumping between objects around the house. The house is not yet overrun by vermin, but immediate action needs to be taken to restore the hoarder’s living space into something livable and healthy.
Strong Odors in the Hoarder’s Home
The amount of rotten food, dirty dishes, garbage, and pet excrement creates a pungent odor within the hoarder’s house. It is not yet overpowering, but it is strong and disagreeable. It permeates all spaces within the home, but it can’t yet be smelled outside.
There’s so much Stuff that Tidying up Isn’t Possible.
When rapid accumulation of items causes your house to no longer be a conceivable place for storage, and piles that had been spilling into each other are now jumbles of stuff occupying entire portions of the home… the hoard has now reached unmanageable levels,
A professional cleaning company is usually needed and many times can be covered by insurance. We have noticed often thick layers of dust over everything in the hoarded house. Level 3 hoarders have an excess of dirty clothes lying around the house. This clothing may be mixed in with clean clothes, and the hoarder may no longer have a working washer and dryer.
Extremely Soiled Flooring
The house’s clutter, vermin, and pets will have created a situation on all the floors that cannot be rectified by a deep hand scrub or a carpet cleaner. Layers of debris have been ground into tile and carpet to the point that the original color of the surface is often not visible in main walkways.
One or More Unusable Bathrooms or Bedrooms
Items have entirely taken over at least one bedroom or bathroom. Not only is the bed or tub unusable, but the entire space is filled with so much stuff that it is impossible to enter the room. This is the first level that guarantees the non-use of an entire room in the house.
Hallways Are Narrowed
Surface and space underneath furniture are stuffed, but the clutter has also started to accumulate around the perimeters of rooms and hallways. This impedes natural movement through these spaces, and often pathways have been created through what is quickly becoming a wall of stuff.
Accumulation Outside of the Hoarded Home
The hoard has spilled outside and is now viewable to people approaching the house or property. Due to accumulation, entire porches will be unusable, and clutter will exist in piles forming in yards.
Two or More Appliances in Disrepair for 6 Months
Two or more of the appliances within the hoarded home are unusable. This is usually because they quit working, often for a simple reason, and the hoarder couldn’t reach the appliance to fix it. Things like a bathroom may be overflowing onto objects stacked around it, and the bathroom no longer serves its purpose to the owner.
Light Structural Damage in the Hoarder’s House
There is an area of the home that now has structural damage due to the size of the hoard and the inability to access the immediate area. The roof may be leaking, the floor may be buckling, or the drywall has cracked. Because of the excessive number of items in the hoarded home, it is impossible to address this structural damage without cleaning the space.
How to Help a Level 3 Hoarder
Hoarding is characterized by symptoms that are distressing to friends, family, bosses, and neighbors. A level 3 hoarder is most likely in a significant amount of denial about the severity of their situation.
We will provide you with the professionals you need to assist the hoarder in your life. PPE gear will almost always be required in level 3 hoarding situations. Get expert help cleaning the garbage and feces out of the hoarded home.
At Spaulding Decon, our trained biohazard remediation professionals know how to clean up a hoarder’s home, and we understand the emotional attachment that exists to the belongings. Our teams can create custom cleanup plans while working with mental health professionals to ensure that your loved ones get the help and support they need during the difficult cleanup process.
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