Self-neglect and hoarding

What is self-neglect?

Self-neglect is an extreme lack of self-care that puts your health, safety or well-being at risk. It is sometimes associated with hoarding or may be a result of other causes such as dementia, obsessive compulsive disorder, a physical illness, addiction or traumatic life changes. 


Hoarding and self-neglect do not always appear together and one does not necessarily cause the other.


Self-neglect could be neglecting to care for your personal hygiene, your health or surroundings.

What is hoarding?

Hoarding is different to 'clutter'. Hoarding is keeping an excessive amount of any material to the point that it prevents a living space from being used for its intended purpose. Hoarding is not a lifestyle choice.


Hoarding disorder is having a persistent difficulty in throwing away or parting with possessions, most of which have little or no monetary value. A person with a hoarding disorder may experience distress at the thought of getting rid of items, or they may be physically unable to due to a health related factor.


A hoarding disorder usually has harmful effects - emotional, physical, social, financial and even legal - for someone who hoards and their family members.

How to recognise the signs of hoarding in yourself and others

Someone who has a hoarding disorder may:

  • Keep or collect items that may have little or no monetary value, such as junk mail and carrier bags, or items they intend to reuse or repair
  • Find it hard to categorise or organise items
  • Struggle to manage everyday tasks, such as cooking or cleaning
  • Become extremely attached to items, refusing to let anyone touch or borrow them

It's possible to hoard anything physical, such as clothes or shoes, drawings or photographs, books, newspapers, storage containers, post, bills and other paperwork. Animals such as cats and dogs and digital files can also be hoarded.

Why is hoarding a problem?

A hoarding disorder can take over a person's life. It can be difficult to get around your house, maintain personal hygiene and can cause relationships to suffer.


A living space could become very difficult to clean, leading to unhygienic conditions and encourage rodent or insect infestations. It is a fire risk due to the volume of items hoarded and exits being blocked. It can lead to trips and falls, or items could collapse and fall on you or others if kept in large piles.

Support with hoarding

Hoarding is not easy to treat. People who hoard may not recognise it as a problem. Even if someone does agree that they need support they may find it difficult to accept help. Information about how to treat hoarding with help from a GP is available from the NHS. 

Hoarding UK can offer information and advice to help people who hoard. 

Mind has information to help people who hoard and their family members. 

Go to our Community Directory to find organisations that can support with a hoarding disorder

Go to our Marketplace Directory to find organisations that can help with deep cleaning and hoarding

If you are concerned that someone you know is self-neglecting or hoarding to the point you believe they are unsafe, you should contact your Local Authority adult social care department.

Useful links

Information about hoarding from the NHS

Information and support with hoarding from Mind


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