29 doctors weighed in:

My friend's house is a disaster with dirt and stuff everywhere. How do I know if she's a "horder" or just a bad housekeeper? The mess seems to be getting worse by the month and she doesn't seem at all disturbed by it.

29 doctors weighed in
Dr. Bernard Seif
Clinical Psychology
5 doctors agree

In brief: Semantics

Whatever you call your friend's situation, she needs help and support to overcome it.
I know it is difficult but encourage you to talk w/her. If you feel uncomfortable w/the dirt do not go there. She needs to face the consequences. She can visit you. Peace and good health.

In brief: Semantics

Whatever you call your friend's situation, she needs help and support to overcome it.
I know it is difficult but encourage you to talk w/her. If you feel uncomfortable w/the dirt do not go there. She needs to face the consequences. She can visit you. Peace and good health.
Dr. Bernard Seif
Dr. Bernard Seif
Thank
Dr. Lawrence Scalzo
Family Medicine
3 doctors agree

In brief: Horder if stuff

so high it is stacked and overwhelms you by paths to get to places, dirty is different or can be add on, if they can't get rid of stuff, they should get counseling before it is a real health hazard.
It could be the beginning signs of dementia

In brief: Horder if stuff

so high it is stacked and overwhelms you by paths to get to places, dirty is different or can be add on, if they can't get rid of stuff, they should get counseling before it is a real health hazard.
It could be the beginning signs of dementia
Dr. Lawrence Scalzo
Dr. Lawrence Scalzo
Thank
Dr. Julie Abbott
Preventive Medicine
3 doctors agree

In brief: I'm not sure it is

important to know is she is definitely a "hoarder" or not (though there may be a higher rate of actual mental illness in definite hoarders), but it sounds like she needs help.
Figure out who the best person is to talk with her (often a grown child) and consider getting some professional coaching about how best to try to engage your friend in making some changes. It's a very challenging situation.

In brief: I'm not sure it is

important to know is she is definitely a "hoarder" or not (though there may be a higher rate of actual mental illness in definite hoarders), but it sounds like she needs help.
Figure out who the best person is to talk with her (often a grown child) and consider getting some professional coaching about how best to try to engage your friend in making some changes. It's a very challenging situation.
Dr. Julie Abbott
Dr. Julie Abbott
Thank
Dr. James Okamoto
Family Medicine
3 doctors agree

In brief: It's difficult

"Hoarders" rarely see a problem with it, it is usually family and friends that recognize the problem. Hoarding Disorder is complicated, and there are several scales that have been devised to attempt to "rate" the severity.
I cannot go into the details here, but if you would like to see the various ICD/OCD/ and Paxton Hoarding scales, you can read about them here:https://www.sparefoot.com/self-storage/blog/12662-hoarding-scales/

In brief: It's difficult

"Hoarders" rarely see a problem with it, it is usually family and friends that recognize the problem. Hoarding Disorder is complicated, and there are several scales that have been devised to attempt to "rate" the severity.
I cannot go into the details here, but if you would like to see the various ICD/OCD/ and Paxton Hoarding scales, you can read about them here:https://www.sparefoot.com/self-storage/blog/12662-hoarding-scales/
Dr. James Okamoto
Dr. James Okamoto
Thank
Dr. Donald Colantino
Internal Medicine
2 doctors agree

In brief: Legally

Legally there is little you can do unless you feel that her home presents a public health danger or that she is incompetent and is a danger to herself.
Otherwise try contacting a close relative of hers. Failing that, call the social service department at your local hospital or the public health department for advice.

In brief: Legally

Legally there is little you can do unless you feel that her home presents a public health danger or that she is incompetent and is a danger to herself.
Otherwise try contacting a close relative of hers. Failing that, call the social service department at your local hospital or the public health department for advice.
Dr. Donald Colantino
Dr. Donald Colantino
Thank
Dr. Mary Wendt
Internal Medicine
2 doctors agree

In brief: Casual Housekeeping

Some people are very casual housekeepers, and unless the housekeeping is getting in the way of her health of limiting her function, she may just be a in the casual crowd.
Try to visit with her at your home or maybe out a local bar or restaurant so that her home doesn't impact your relationship.

In brief: Casual Housekeeping

Some people are very casual housekeepers, and unless the housekeeping is getting in the way of her health of limiting her function, she may just be a in the casual crowd.
Try to visit with her at your home or maybe out a local bar or restaurant so that her home doesn't impact your relationship.
Dr. Mary Wendt
Dr. Mary Wendt
Thank
Dr. Stephen Christensen
Family Medicine
2 doctors agree

In brief: One

One cardinal symptom that sets hoarders apart from poor housekeepers is their inability to discard the items they've collected.
In many cases, hoarders will move clutter from one place to another -- even when it creates an obstruction to traffic flow or interferes with daily activities -- rather than getting rid of it. Hoarders also tend to get upset when others touch or move the objects they've collected. I've attached a mayo clinic link that discusses the symptoms of hoarding. It may offer some enlightenment. I hope things go well for your friend! http://www.Mayoclinic.Com/health/hoarding/ds00966.

In brief: One

One cardinal symptom that sets hoarders apart from poor housekeepers is their inability to discard the items they've collected.
In many cases, hoarders will move clutter from one place to another -- even when it creates an obstruction to traffic flow or interferes with daily activities -- rather than getting rid of it. Hoarders also tend to get upset when others touch or move the objects they've collected. I've attached a mayo clinic link that discusses the symptoms of hoarding. It may offer some enlightenment. I hope things go well for your friend! http://www.Mayoclinic.Com/health/hoarding/ds00966.
Dr. Stephen Christensen
Dr. Stephen Christensen
Thank
Dr. Karen Butler
Family Medicine
1 doctor agrees

In brief: ?

Why is it your issue? If you think she needs help and you say she is your friend then help her otherwise leave her alone

In brief: ?

Why is it your issue? If you think she needs help and you say she is your friend then help her otherwise leave her alone
Dr. Karen Butler
Dr. Karen Butler
Thank
Dr. John Goldman
Internal Medicine - Rheumatology
1 doctor agrees

In brief: Try an intervention

You can do his yourself, with the health department, her family, her physician, etc

In brief: Try an intervention

You can do his yourself, with the health department, her family, her physician, etc
Dr. John Goldman
Dr. John Goldman
Thank
Dr. Arnold Malerman
Dentistry - Orthodontics
1 doctor agrees

In brief: Be a friend

Talk to her about her problem. Don't ignore it.
Your friend may need physical and emotional help resolving her problem. Help guide her to people who can help her. all to Social Services.

In brief: Be a friend

Talk to her about her problem. Don't ignore it.
Your friend may need physical and emotional help resolving her problem. Help guide her to people who can help her. all to Social Services.
Dr. Arnold Malerman
Dr. Arnold Malerman
Thank
Dr. Gehrig Harris
Family Medicine

In brief: Hoarding

Hello, I hope that you are doing well.
You haven't given a lot of information about your friend but from the little that you've said she may be a hoarder. If she was just messy then she probably would have always been messy but I'm gathering that this is something new. She may have had a recent life changing event precipitate it. Encourage her to seek professional help for diagnosis and treatment

In brief: Hoarding

Hello, I hope that you are doing well.
You haven't given a lot of information about your friend but from the little that you've said she may be a hoarder. If she was just messy then she probably would have always been messy but I'm gathering that this is something new. She may have had a recent life changing event precipitate it. Encourage her to seek professional help for diagnosis and treatment
Dr. Gehrig Harris
Dr. Gehrig Harris
Thank
Dr. Lynne Weixel
Clinical Psychology

In brief: Talk lightly

Depending on the intimacy level and trust you have, you can just ask if she ever finds it a problem. If not - it might be best to just say that you'd wondered about it since it seemed to be increasing but leave it at that.
It's only necessary to do something if it reaches a safety hazard level. Otherwise just offering your support is all you can do.

In brief: Talk lightly

Depending on the intimacy level and trust you have, you can just ask if she ever finds it a problem. If not - it might be best to just say that you'd wondered about it since it seemed to be increasing but leave it at that.
It's only necessary to do something if it reaches a safety hazard level. Otherwise just offering your support is all you can do.
Dr. Lynne Weixel
Dr. Lynne Weixel
Thank
Dr. Morton Levitt
Pathology

In brief: Hoarder/Housekeeper

It doesn't really matter what you call it; at the end of the day, there is a safety and health hazard from the accumulating items, debris, and filth.
An intervention is warranted.

In brief: Hoarder/Housekeeper

It doesn't really matter what you call it; at the end of the day, there is a safety and health hazard from the accumulating items, debris, and filth.
An intervention is warranted.
Dr. Morton Levitt
Dr. Morton Levitt
Thank
Dr. John Chiu
Internal Medicine - Allergy & Immunology

In brief: She is a hoarder

And this is really a disease and the clutter is potentially a health and fire hazard.
You will need to do your best to get her to mend her ways. Ask a close relative to assist you if possible.

In brief: She is a hoarder

And this is really a disease and the clutter is potentially a health and fire hazard.
You will need to do your best to get her to mend her ways. Ask a close relative to assist you if possible.
Dr. John Chiu
Dr. John Chiu
Thank
Dr. Wayne Ingram
Obstetrics & Gynecology

In brief: Is she worth it?

Is this girlfriend worth the exposure to vermin and disease from extremely poor housekeeping? Studies have shown that dirt, and "mess" in a household increase the risk of infection transmission.
Whether she is a "horder" or not is irrelevant in terms of health consequences from continuing exposure to the same. This is a "deal breaker" for most in considering a continuing relationship.

In brief: Is she worth it?

Is this girlfriend worth the exposure to vermin and disease from extremely poor housekeeping? Studies have shown that dirt, and "mess" in a household increase the risk of infection transmission.
Whether she is a "horder" or not is irrelevant in terms of health consequences from continuing exposure to the same. This is a "deal breaker" for most in considering a continuing relationship.
Dr. Wayne Ingram
Dr. Wayne Ingram
Thank
Dr. Ayaz Samadani
General Practice

In brief: Messy house

I have home health nurse visit her and evaluate for any medical condition

In brief: Messy house

I have home health nurse visit her and evaluate for any medical condition
Dr. Ayaz Samadani
Dr. Ayaz Samadani
Thank
Dr. J. Lawrence Dohan
Dermatology

In brief: OR

Or are you a neat freak? Before you make diagnoses, ask other people what they think.
Is your friend depressed? Withdrawn? Changed behavior?

In brief: OR

Or are you a neat freak? Before you make diagnoses, ask other people what they think.
Is your friend depressed? Withdrawn? Changed behavior?
Dr. J. Lawrence Dohan
Dr. J. Lawrence Dohan
Thank
Dr. Ed Friedlander
Pathology

In brief: Diogenes syndrome

This may be the first sign of mental illness.
If you're a real friend, talk to her. I know a physician who started doing this and disappeared -- he had a brain tumor that could have been operated.

In brief: Diogenes syndrome

This may be the first sign of mental illness.
If you're a real friend, talk to her. I know a physician who started doing this and disappeared -- he had a brain tumor that could have been operated.
Dr. Ed Friedlander
Dr. Ed Friedlander
Thank
Dr. Michael Kleerekoper
Internal Medicine - Endocrinology

In brief: Tough questin

You really do have a problem. I would strongly recommend that you make an appointment to see a Psychologist abut this issue.
Please let me know how things go.

In brief: Tough questin

You really do have a problem. I would strongly recommend that you make an appointment to see a Psychologist abut this issue.
Please let me know how things go.
Dr. Michael Kleerekoper
Dr. Michael Kleerekoper
Thank
Get help from a real doctor now
Dr. Umesh Patel
Board Certified, Internal Medicine
38 years in practice
1M people helped
Continue
108,000 doctors available
Read more answers from doctors