Beginning the process of helping someone whose life is affected by hoarding is no easy task. In a lot of situations, hoarding is less about keeping the items and more about the attachment they have to these items, whether it is sentimental or they “just might need it someday.” As time goes on, these items begin to pile up, and if it continues, it can become overwhelming and interfere with a person’s life negatively. Assisting someone whose life is affected by hoarding is more complicated than moving all their stuff out. We have put together a guide to how you can help your loved ones start their journey to recovery.
How to Help
Research the Disorder
To help you understand what your loved one is experiencing, it’s good to learn about what Hoarding Disorder is. Some reputable sources include the International OCD foundation or you can check out our list of Hoarding Cleanup Specialists. Understanding the complexities that come along with hoarding disorder can help bring light to how hoarding begins, and the best ways to start breaking the cycle and get support.
Take the Focus off the Hoarded Items and onto the Person
Hoarding is not as simple as hiring someone to remove all the items. If you were to come in and remove everything without the loved one’s permission, it can appear to them as a personal attack, leaving them feeling violated and distressed. When loved ones hoard, there is an underlying reason that must be addressed first before any removal of anything can happen. If these issues are not resolved, the behavior can turn into a vicious cycle.
A great place to start is by taking the initiative to reach out more as a lot of hoarders feel socially isolated. You should begin speaking with them more often and let them know how loved they are, as you start working on establishing trust with them. You must take a very empathetic approach and understand that hoarding is not their entire identity. If they feel safe enough to talk to you about how they’re feeling, it’s important not to pass any judgment. You want to ensure they feel heard and understood.
Once your loved one has decided they are ready to start the removal, narrow down a starting point, and write out a plan, and set your goals. When writing out this plan, want to make a list of all your rooms that need some TLC. Put them in the order you wish to tackle them, based on priority and set completion dates. Tackle each space one day at a time or break them up so you work on one room a day or even just one hour a day. It’s totally up to you, if you’re just starting out even five minutes a day can start to create a huge difference.
Let Them Feel in Control
You must remember that you are just there for the support, this is not your project. If you try to take charge, this could lead to some unwarranted feelings from their side. They may not be ready to let certain items go, and if you’re moving too fast, this can lead to feelings of resentment. Before the process begins, you want to set boundaries. Make it clear you respect for their space, offer help when necessary, but let them make the decisions. Your job is to be as supportive and encouraging as possible. Celebrate the small and big wins with them, and remind them they are loved and not alone on this journey.
If you have a loved one who is ready to start their journey to recovery, help is here! We take on each client with compassion in mind first, as we work together to help declutter your home and help guide the difficult decisions that come with it. Contact us today by calling 855-468-2588 or filling out a contact form here.