If you know someone or have a loved one who suffers from compulsive hoarding, it can be difficult to decide where you should start. It can even be difficult to determine whether a person is hoarder or just tends to collect and/or have clutter. So if you’re looking how to help a hoarder, first understand what it means to be one.
What is Hoarding?
Hoarding isn’t a disorganized roommate. It’s not that collection of Beanie Babies tucked away in a basement somewhere. Hoarding is serious condition that can have emotional, social, financial and even physical effects on a person. Listed below are a few qualities that are synonymous with compulsive hoarding:
- Avoids throwing away possessions that have no value to them or anyone else.
- Experiences mild to severe anxiety about getting rid of anything.
- Repeatedly adding to the hoard without recognition that there is a problem.
- Rooms in their home can no longer be used for their intended purpose.
- Possessions are negatively impacting their safety, health or hygiene.
Does someone you know possess these qualities? Check out our three tips and list of resources below to begin the process of helping a hoarder.
Use the Best Hoarding Resources
How to Help a Hoarder Step #1
While you may not be a hoarder yourself, it’s important to educate yourself about how they think and the best ways you can help. There’s no quick fix. It’s best to read all that you can on the subject before trying to address the problem. Rely on advice from experts that have actual experience in helping hoarders. The books and publications listed below have been put together by psychologists and professional organizers and provide a great introduction into hoarding:
- Digging Out by Michael A. Tompkins and Tamara L. Hartl – A guidebook of how to help a loved one who hoards. It explains how to approach the hoarder and what kinds of professionals to contact.
- What Is Hoarding Disorder by The Hoarding Project – An online resource with several helpful videos. The page helps answer many frequently asked questions by friends and family members.
- From Hoarding to Hope by Geralin Thomas – A book that works as an introduction to the world of hoarding. It provides real-life scenarios and gives hope to those battling the problem.
Geralin Thomas is an organizing expert who has been featured on A&E’s TV show Hoarders. In this book, Thomas and other related professionals offer a comprehensive guide to understanding hoarding. Its four sections introduce and thoroughly explain the disorder while providing solutions to help in recovery.
From Hoarding to Hope by Geralin Thomas
Talk to the Hoarder
How to Help a Hoarder Step #2
The initial conversation might be hard to get through, but it’s important to talk before taking other actions. If you attempt to sneak around and dispose of items behind a hoarders back, it can ruin any potential of helping solve the problem. Hoarders have a knack for knowing when something is missing, even if it’s something they haven’t used in years. Sit them down and see their level of openness to accepting help.
It must be noted that a professional organizer should never be used as a substitute for a mental health professional when dealing with a hoarder.
“Talk to the hoarder and see if they are open to talking to a trained professional organizer who is experienced in working with hoarders. The hoarder must give permission and be willing to accept help. You can’t force it upon them or you can end up being cut off and making the situation worse.”
Kim Diamond | clutterflyinc.com
Rely on Hoarding Professionals
How to Help a Hoarder Step #3
Hoarding situations can have vary in severity and help is often reliant on that. Mental health professionals and/or professional organizers may need to be hired to help a hoarder. Beyond what a book or general advice can provide, professionals can apply their experience to your specific situation. Every hoarder is different and the most effective help will come from an individual directly involved.
How to Help a Hoarder Recap
Remember the three steps when you’re looking to help a hoarder. Have a success story? We’d love to hear it in the comment section below.