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Nearly every person or family has something stored away in the basement, attic or garage that they don’t need. And for most of us, it’s not a problem. But for some people the need to hold onto things can become a serious problem.

People who hoard things are often friendly, intelligent, clean and outgoing and have lots of friends and socialize. They may be productive at work and involved in community activities but at home their lifestyle is often extremely dysfunctional.

Why do people become hoarders?

As defined by the National Fire Protection Association, hoarding is a “mental disorder that can be genetic in nature, triggered by traumatic events, or a symptom of another disorder, such as depression, obsessive compulsive disorder, or dementia. Studies have found that hoarding usually begins in early adolescence and gets worse as a person ages.”

In a hoarder’s home, it is not uncommon to find things stacked so high that the front door can hardly be opened. The bed is often piled with junk except for the narrow patch for sleeping.

What are some characteristics of hoarders?

  • Some people save useless things that make no sense to others.
  • They might accumulate old newspapers and magazines that have no value.
  • They may have a garage full of old furniture that leads to the cars being parked outside, because there isn’t any room.

What are some of the dangers in hoarding?

  • Hoarding can become a fire hazard.
  • It could be a safety hazard.
    • Whenever a person cannot freely move around in their home, they could potentially trip and fall.
  • It may be a health hazard.
    • Our health is affected by what we breathe in – things that are deteriorating can cause unhealthy dust particles to float around in the air.

As spring approaches and you begin spring cleaning, take the opportunity to re-evaluate things you have. If they have no value to you, get rid of them. This could be a great chance to donate clothes to the Salvation Army or a local homeless shelter. You might discover that it’s better to give, than to keep things you no longer need.

If you think you have a problem and would like to talk to someone, please reach out to me at or call 865-806-4424. There is hope, and we can help.

Chaplain Walter Ghosten

By Chaplain Ghosten