Hoarding is having an excessive amount of items and not being able to get rid of them. Hoarding can most likely create an overcrowded living environment that homes may be full to capacity leaving only narrow pathways through piles of clutter. Other people may also collect animals, keeping dozens to hundreds of pets usually in unsanitary conditions.


Signs and Symptoms
  • In the home, most surfaces such as countertops, sinks, stoves, and desks are piled with items
  • The clutter may be moved outside to the yard, garage or vehicles when there is no more room inside the home
  • Cluttered living spaces
  • Unable to throw away items
  • Keeping stacks of newspapers, magazines or junk mail
  • Moving items from one pile to another, without throwing away anything
  • Accumulating unnecessary items such as trash
  • Hard time managing daily activities and making decisions
  • Difficulty organizing items
  • Shame or embarrassment
  • Extreme attachment to belongings
  • Limited or no social interactions with others
It's not clear what causes hoarding. It is more likely to affect those with a family history of hoarding. Genetics and upbringing can be factors.
Risk Factors
Hoarding can involve anyone, regardless of age, sex or economic status. It's not clear how common hoarding is. Here are some risks about hoarding that researchers have come to know:
  • Age: Hoarding usually starts in early adolescence, around age 13 or 14, but can start even earlier. Hoarding tends to get worse with age.
  • Family history: There is a very strong connection between having a family member who is a compulsive hoarder and you becoming a hoarder yourself.
  • Stressful life events: Hoarding can start after a person experiences something that is hard for them to deal with such as the death of a loved one, divorce, eviction or losing belongings in a fire.
  • History of alcohol abuse: Approximately half of hoarders have a history of alcohol dependence.
  • Social isolation: Hoarding can often lead to social isolation. People who hoard are usually socially withdrawn and isolate themselves. Some people may turn to the comfort of hoarding because they're lonely.
  • Unsanitary conditions
  • Fire hazard
  • Increased risk of falls
  • Unable to perform daily tasks, such as bathing or cooking
  • Poor work performance
  • Family conflicts
  • Loneliness and social isolation
There is no known way to prevent hoarding because it is unknown what exactly causes hoarding. However, getting treatment at the first sign of hoarding may help prevent it from becoming severe.
Five Levels of Hoarding
Level 1: Home is accessible, few spills or pet accidents. No odors, slight rodent or insects evidence, clutter but not excessive.
Level 2: Exit is blocked, major appliance not working, medium amount of bug/rodent infestation, slight odors, garbage overflow, limited housekeeping being accomplished.
Level 3: Clutter spread outdoor, 2 or more appliances not working, webs are noticeable, obvious odors, heavily soiled areas, hazardous substance found.
Level 4: Structure damage to home, mold or mildew evident, strong odor, sleeping area unusable, rotting food on counters.
Level 5: Major structure damage, no power, no water, no sewer, obvious hazards such as fire or health, house is not livable.
 For more information about the levels of hoarding click HERE
Assessments for Hoarding


For more information about Hoarding click HERE


Action Organizing Services


Catholic Charities


Helping Hands


Milwaukee Area Domestic Animal Control


Milwaukee County Department on Aging


Milwaukee Department of Neighborhood Services


Milwaukee Health Department


Milwaukee Hoarding Task Force


Temps Plus



This site is powered by the Northwoods Titan Content Management System