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Difference between Hoarding and Collecting

by Vickie Dellaquila, Downsizing & Hoarding Expert
September 13, 2018

Question: My 75 year old mother always seems to collecting things. I feel like she is slowly turning into a hoarder but am not sure. What is the difference between hoarding and collecting?

Answer:

Many people think collecting is the same as the hoarding, however it is not. Collections such as dolls, stamps, and books bring enjoyment for many. Hoarding behavior is different. Once a collection interferes with your living space, inability to let go of items such as those that are broken or destroyed and interferes with relationships then it may be hoarding behavior. Hoarding disorder is diagnosed by a physician or psychiatrist.

Your mother may have a large collection of books and you may think she has too many. If the collection does not interfere with her living space, it is just collecting. If her collection of books has taken over the house by possibly creating pathways to get through rooms of the house, then she may have hoarding tendencies. If she cannot discard any books that have been damaged by mold, water, or torn and beyond repair, she may have hoarding tendencies.

Vickie Dellaquila is western Pennsylvania’s only Certified Professional Organizer in Chronic Disorganization and owner of Organization Rules® Inc. Organization Rules provides compassionate organizing services for every stage of your life®. She is the author of Don’t Toss My Memories in the Trash: A Step-by-Step Guide to Helping Seniors Downsize, Organize, and Move.

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