Hoarders Test: Is your Friend or Family Member a HoarderBelow, is a test that will help you find out if you should be concerned about your friend or family member that you believe is a hoarder. Start by observing the “Living Room” set of photos and writing down the number of the image that best represents your friend or family member’s living room. Once you’ve written down this figure, continue to the kitchen images and write down the number of the scene that best represents your friend or family member’s kitchen. For any bedrooms in your house, use the set of bedroom images to rate each bedroom. Continue this process for all rooms. To rate any rooms that are not a living room, kitchen, or bedroom (i.e., dining room, hallway, garage), use the living room set of images. Here’s an example of what this looks like:
- Living Room (used living room photos): 3
- Kitchen (used kitchen photos): 4
- Bedroom 1 (used bedroom photos): 3
- Bedroom 2 (used bedroom photos): 3
- Dining Room (used living room photos): 4
- Bathroom (used living room photos): 2
- Garage (used living room photos): 5
Living RoomGail Steketee, Randy O. Frost Treatment for Hoarding Disorder: Assessing Hoarding Problems. Copyright © 2013 by Oxford University Press
KitchenGail Steketee, Randy O. Frost Treatment for Hoarding Disorder: Assessing Hoarding Problems. Copyright © 2013 by Oxford University Press
BedroomGail Steketee, Randy O. Frost Treatment for Hoarding Disorder: Assessing Hoarding Problems. Copyright © 2013 by Oxford University Press
Hoarders Test: ResultsOnce you have rated all rooms, look at your list and note the rooms rated above a three. Any rooms rated above a three (4-9) are cause for concern. The Champaign Urbana Public Health District states that you should report a room rated a 4, 5, or 6 and report a room rated 7,8, or 9 immediately.
Understanding Someone with Hoarding DisorderYou just took the “Hoarder Test” found out that you should be concerned about your friend or family member. Your next step is to try to understand their impulses. This step is essential if you ever hope to help your friend or family member.
Relatability Exercise:To those without hoarding disorder, I would like to create a scenario to help you see things through the eyes of a hoarder. Imagine you’re eight years old and every night before you go to bed you watch your father clean coins from his coin collection and place them into his coin book. Every day, you and your father would look for coins to add to the coin book, whether it was just walking down a street or looking into abandoned houses; these adventures were some of your happiest childhood memories. Unfortunately, these happy times could not last forever. Your father suddenly became ill and passed away. Everything of his was sold or donated, and the only thing that you had left was his coin book. What if someone told you to get rid of that book? What if the book got damaged and people pressured you to throw out the book? Would you do it? If you wouldn’t do it, then you’re thinking like a hoarder. Hoarders have attachments like this to all their items. That is why it is next to impossible for them to get rid of any of them. They see significance in their items and are emotionally attached to all them. So, the next time you ask a hoarder to give up an item, imagine someone asking you to give up your prized possessions, realize how hard it is for them, and try to support them in the process.
ResourcesIf you’re still reading at this point, you have identified your loved one as a potential hoarder, and have tried to see things from their perspective. You’re probably thinking “I think they’re a hoarder and I get that change will be hard for them, but how can I help.” First, let your loved one know how much you care about them and that you are concerned. But it is important that this concern comes from a place of love, rather than anger. If you become frustrated and angry at this point, this will only hinder their progress. Once they feel comfortable talking to you about their home or their items, suggest that they seek out a few of these resources:
- Online Hoarding Support Group
- Report a Hoarder Anonymously
- Hoarding Resources Based on State (cleanup crews and psychologists/psychiatrists)
- National Cleaning Specialist
- The Basics of Hoarding
- Hoarding Information for Families
- Find Help by State (therapists, clinics, and programs, support groups, organizations)