Hoarding is a mental condition that exposes its victims to dangerous living conditions and social isolation. People who are hoarders don’t recognise that their behaviour is irrational and only a small percentage will try to find solutions to their hoarding habit. If you have a friend or family member who has a hoarding disorder and you are concerned, there are different ways you can help them get better. Following are 5 steps you can take to help a hoarder.
- Educate yourself.
- Don’t enable their behaviour.
- Help them sort their hoarded items.
- Don’t clean up for them.
- Help them find treatment.
As an outside observer, hoarding might not make sense to you, but it makes sense to the victims. If your offer to help is sincere, learn all you can about hoarding. Read websites, attend support groups or consult a health professional with knowledge on hoarding. Once you begin to understand the loneliness, anxiety, and fear associated with hoarding, you will be in a better position to offer empathy and support.
Don’t Enable Their Behaviour
When helping a hoarder, you can’t stop them from hoarding, but you also don’t need to enable their behaviour. If your friend hoards books, don’t invite him/her to go book shopping. If your partner is a compulsive collector, avoid adding to their collection on every anniversary or holiday season. Don’t offer storage space and allow their hoarded possessions to take over your home.
Help Them Sort Their Hoarded Items
People who hoard accumulate too much stuff that ends up filling their house. Volunteer to help them sort their items, but don’t take them with you as it might interfere with your relationship. If the both of you become daunted by the task, consider calling companies that specialise in helping people who hoard.
Don’t Clean Up for Them
The act of helping is different from cleaning up for them. You can’t expect someone to learn when you go through the cleaning process for them without involving them. Don’t force them into cleaning up as they need to make their own decisions. As much as you want to help, don’t intervene until they are ready to accept the help you’re offering.
Help Them Find Treatment
It’s not always easy taking the first step to treatment. Don’t force them to seek treatment, but consider doing some research about hoarding treatments and recommend them to him/her. When they are ready, find a qualified therapist to help them.
Although helping a hoarder is a daunting job, creating a supportive environment will encourage them to seek help and start their journey towards the recovery process.