See What We Found at Our Latest Cleanup!
We couldn't have been more surprised when we started to clear out our recent client's closet and found, to our horror, some dead kittens huddled together. But then we heard a little squeak, and we realized that this one was still alive!
This little guy had clung to life, and we are so grateful that we were in time to save him. He was weak, hungry, and thirsty, and one of our team found some milk replacement food (which the owner obviously had intended to use but hadn't), and he drank that down with all his might. We named him Maximus.
Our team member Alvaro fell in love with this tiny boy and has taken him home, and he's doing great! Don't they make a perfect pair?
This reminds us that humans aren't the only ones to suffer from a hoarding situation. So many animals are victims of this behaviour, and we only wish we could save them all.
If you know of a home that has too many animals to be cared for properly, especially in a hoarding situation, please contact your local Animal Control and save some lives.
If you're in the Southern California area, call Clutter&Hoarding Pros™ (562.972.3180) and we will help you find the resources you need.
Use This Checklist to Help You Decide
Although at Clutter&Hoarding Pros™ we work with families, friends, and fiduciaries in clearing and remediating the hoarded estates of deceased or re-homed hoarders, we also get many calls from worried relatives asking us how they can tell whether a friend or loved one is a truly hoarder or just has a bit too much "stuff."
If you suspect that a friend or family member is a hoarder, you can take this simple questionnaire to be sure. [We have reformatted it to fit into the blog space.]
The HOMES® Multi-disciplinary Hoarding Risk Assessment was developed by Christiana Bratiotis, PhD, MSW, who has worked in the field of help for hoarders for well over a decade and has co-authored The Hoarding Handbook, A Guide for Human Service Professionals.
HOMES® Multi-disciplinary Hoarding Risk Assessment
Cannot use bathtub/shower Cannot prepare food
Presence of spoiled food Presence of insects/rodents
Cannot access toilet Cannot sleep in bed
Presence of feces/urine (human or animal)
Presence of mold or chronic dampness
Garbage/trash overflow Cannot use stove/fridge/sink
Cannot locate medications or equipment
Cannot move freely/safely in home
Unstable piles/avalanche risk
Inability for EMT to enter/gain access
Egresses, exits or vents blocked or unusable
Mental health (Note that this is not a clinical diagnosis; use only to identify risk factors)
Does not seem to understand seriousness of problem
Defensive or angry Unaware, not alert, or confused
Does not seem to accept likely consequence of problem
Anxious or apprehensive
Endangerment (evaluate threat based on other sections with attention to specific populations listed below)
Threat to health or safety of child/minor
Threat to health or safety of person with disability
Threat to health or safety of older adult
Threat to health or safety of animal
Structure & Safety
Leaking roof Electrical wires/cords exposed
No running water/plumbing problems
Flammable items beside heat source Caving walls
No heat/electricity Blocked/unsafe electric heater or vents
Storage of hazardous materials/weapons
# of Adults _____________
# of Children __________
# and kinds of Pets ________________________________________________
Ages of adults: __________________________
Ages of children: ______________________
Person who smokes in home Yes No
Person(s) with physical disability____________________________________
Language(s) spoken in home________________________________________
Assessment Notes:__________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________
Imminent Harm to self, family, animals, public:___________________
Threat of Eviction: _________________________________________
Threat of Condemnation:_____________________________________
Capacity Measurements Instructions:
Place a check mark by the items that represent the strengths and capacity to address the hoarding problem
Awareness of clutter
Willingness to acknowledge clutter and risks to health, safety
and ability to remain in home/impact on daily life
Physical ability to clear clutter
Psychological ability to tolerate intervention
Willingness to accept intervention assistance
Capacity Notes: __________________________________________________
Post-Assessment Plan/Referral _________________________________
Date: _________________ Client Name: _____________________________
© Bratiotis, 2009
We hope this helps identify a hoarding loved one
If you find yourself need to clear the estate of a hoarding loved one, please contact Clutter&Hoarding Pros™ for ethical, trustworthy, and non-judgmental hoarding remediation services, including clearing and cleaning a hoarded estate and remediating the home for living or sale.
Hoarding Can Turn Deadly
This is a shocking, but true, story from one of our recent projects. An 82-year-old man died in his heavily hoarded home, and he lay there dead for over a week before a neighbor called the police because the man’s dog wouldn’t stop barking near his rear bedroom window, and there was a foul smell coming from his back yard into the neighbors’ yards.
It took paramedics over six hours to remove his body from his hoarded home. They had to break the front window and crawl over seven feet of debris to reach the body in the rear bedroom.
On this particular project, our team pulled out approximately 37 tons of trash, gross filth (including rotted food, dead rats and mice), clothing and furniture soiled with fecal matter and urine, and tens of thousands of newspapers and magazines. The project lasted five days with a full crew. Lots of work to say the least.
Don't Let Hoarding Kill Your Loved One
We urge our clients to understand that sometimes you, as the family member, may need to give “tough love.” This might mean placing a call to Adult Protection Services for a welfare check, in the event your family member refuses to let you inside the home.
The sad fact is that many elderly people with severe hoarding disorder, who are living in a cluttered, hoarded, generally degraded environment, will—whether from shame, embarrassment, or fear—not allow anyone, including family, friends, neighbors, home health workers, or even city and county officials, to see the inside of their homes.
It’s critical for someone, whether family members or others, to gain access to their elderly family member’s hoarded property to see how they are living. It may even mean taking them out for lunch or dinner, or even a walk, so that someone else can see the inside of the home. Family members need to get an extra set of keys by any means possible in order to perform welfare checks.
This job, and so many others reported in the news or, worse, going unreported, shows the huge risks to elderly and/or disabled seniors (or others) who live in highly hoarded or cluttered environments due to risk of falling—which can lead to serious injury or death—fire and electrical hazards, the inability of rescue workers to get through the hoard, bio-hazard issues—including human and animal feces and urine—and other health issues such as malnutrition and compromised immune systems.
Call for Help
At Clutter&Hoarding Pros™, we receive dozens of calls every month outlining exactly this situation. We always hope help will arrive before such tragic deaths occur, but sadly that is not always the case. If your elderly or disabled loved one either has been rescued and removed from this situation in time, or has met a sad and lonely death due to their hoarding, please contact us through our Contact page, call Michelle Quintana (the owner) at 562-972-3180, or email us at email@example.com.
One Client Wins the Declutter Lottery!
We had an opportunity to work with a family whose father had died, leaving a massive, Level 4 hoarded home for them to clear. Our client said that there might be money in the home, but they had scoured every square inch (they thought) and retrieved all the valuables they had found.
Hidden Treasures in the Hoard
While my crew was working intensely on clearing the hoard, they found some pure silver jewelry hidden in holes in the mattresses—the jewelry was easily valued in the tens of thousands of dollars and would probably have been thrown out with the mattresses if they had just called a junk hauler to empty the hoard.
We then found $800 in frozen $20 bills in the freezer! They had not thought of looking there, as it was jammed full of expired food and hadn’t been defrosted in way too long.
t the pièce de résistance was what we found in the attic. In nooks and crannies our clients had never even thought to look in, we found, stuffed into various jars, boxes, and other containers, an astonishing $472,000 in cash!
You can imagine how thrilled the family was, and how thankful that they had trusted Clutter&Hoarding Pros™ to find—and return— these valuables and cash.
It’s true, we charge more than junk removal companies, because we do more than just haul things away to the dump. We specialize in the details—looking through the hoarded home for the items of worth—the money, the coin collections, the documents, the vintage mementos, the family photos, the special wedding dress worn by grandma tossed into a heap.
We care, that’s what we do best—with no judgment and always with a positive attitude. We really do care, honor, and value your family’s heirlooms and understand how traumatic and emotionally overwhelming it is to clear the home of a loved one who had a hoarding disorder. Rescuing family valuables makes it just that much easier to deal with the grief and the stress.
We encourage you to “shop around,” call other like services, but we promise you that should you retain our services, we will do everything in our power to make your experience as seamless as possible. Contact Clutter&Hoarding Pros™ for a trustworthy, compassionate, nonjudgmental hoarding remediation service.
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Featured Service Information
• Hoarding Clearout Saves More than "Stuff"
· Why Clients Hire—and Trust— Clutter&Hoarding Pros
· Levels IV & V Clear-Out
· Is My Loved One a Hoarder?
• After the Clean-Out
• Animal Hoarding
• Decluttering for the Elderly
• What Is a Hoarding Clean-
• Hoarding vs. Clutter
• Hoarding Help in Orange
• Hoarding Help in LA County
• How to Choose a Hoarding
• Why a Junk-Hauling Service
Is NOT What You Need!
• Paper, Paper, Everywhere!
• Are You a Concerned Third
• Estate Clearing for a Loved
One—You're Not Alone
• Clearing a Hoarded Estate
During the Holidays
• Where Do You Fit In?
• Deep Cleaning a Cleared
• "That's okay, we have
insurance . . ."
• Planning to Sell Your
• In-Home Assessment for
Second Step to Success
• Is Your Relative's Home
• 7 Simple Step to a
Successful Estate Sale