Understanding Hoarding and Squalor Behaviour

Understanding Hoarding and Squalor Behaviour

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Have you noticed that severe domestic squalor combined with compulsive hoarding has received wide international attention in recent years?  This is because they are now recognised as very common mental health conditions.

Who is prone to get affected?

Hoarding and squalor living behaviours are displayed due to many complex reasons.  They can affect all types of people and of any age. Prolonged or extreme hoarding may lead to squalor. But a squalid living environment can also exist unrelated to the hoarding. Hoarding behaviour and squalid living environments do not reflect a person’s financial means or their standing in the community.

So what are hoarding and squalor?

Hoarding is when a person excessively collects items which appear to have little or no value. Along with this, they fail to remove or discard them when they become old or useless. Hence their living area and the areas these things are kept become so cluttered that they cannot longer be used properly or are uninhabitable.

Squalor refers to households that are left in a filthy condition, and are cluttered with personal and other possessions. Besides this, there is an accumulation of rubbish, excrement and decomposing food.

How do these behaviour affect a person?

In both these instances, the occupant’s daily living activities like cooking, cleaning, sleeping, showering and leisure are hampered or even sometimes not possible. Living in such unhealthy environments pose a risk to the health and well-being of the occupants. In some extreme cases, even neighbours may get affected as the squalor affected property may be a fire hazard, emit foul odours or even harbour vermin.

How to offer help?

When helping someone who may be living in squalor or cleaning up their living areas, it is most important to be patient with them. One has to be non-judgmental and learn more about the behaviours. In most cases, the persons affected may be reluctant to accept assistance. They may not even accept the fact that they have a behavioural disorder.

It is best to get professional help to diagnose the illness and asses the level it has affected the person. Usually, it is a treatable psychiatric condition

Tackling persons affected by hoarding behaviour can require a variety of approaches. A one-time clean-up will not prove thoroughly effective and may cause stress to the person affected. However, if it is done, the person affected should be involved with limitations. If environmental health authorities need to be involved to conduct a clean-up, the person needs to be supported by an integrated approach including people services.


Biosite Cleanup provides personalised and professional hoarding/squalor management solutions to our clients. Let us help you put your home and life in order. Our services are available in Goulburn, Canberra, Batemans Bay and surrounding areas of NSW. Call us now on 0409037634 to know more.

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