Buried Alive: 5 Tips for Helping a Hoarder Overcome The Mental Disorder

Current research shows that between 6 and 15 million Americans are considered hoarders. While many people tend to keep a few extra things around, hoarding is a recognized mental disorder than results in more extreme behavior. A hoarder keeps anything and everything, regardless of whether or not it’s useful to them or anyone else.

In many cases, the problem may be so severe that the person can’t even get around their own home. Sanitary conditions may also be dismal, as cleaning is virtually impossible. If someone you love is struggling with this difficult and complex condition, there are some things you can do to help.


1. Listen

If the person has finally accepted that they have a problem, one of the best thing you can do for them is lend an ear. If they’re willing to talk to you about the issue, then it means that they trust and respect you, so they’re coming to you for help. Be sure to listen in a non-judgmental way, and only offer an opinion if they ask for it. This will help the individual to feel validated and loved as he or she works to overcome the issue.


2. Assist in Finding Professional Help

If you hoarding friend or family member brings up the need for professional help, ask if they’d like your aid in choosing a qualified therapist. That first step can be hard for them to make, but they’re more likely to take it when they have support. Should they feel apprehensive about discussing private matters with a therapist, consider offering to accompany them to the first session.


3. Cleaning Help

The most overwhelming task in recovery for a hoarder is getting his or her home back into a livable condition. Invest a little of your own time to helping your loved one start the healing. Encourage them to start small, sprucing up a closet or uncluttering a hallway. You can help by holding the container that the items are going into, but let the person do the actual cleaning. This helps them learn to make reasonable decisions about keeping and throwing away items and will help the person overcome the disorder more quickly. For homes with large amounts of junk to clean out, a rubbish removal service in Indianapolis or wherever the person lives could be a helpful option. Checking with sites like www.southernscavengerservice.com/ can give you good options to help your loved one make better progress.


4. Be Patient

Being supportive of your loved one will be frustrating at times. At some points, they may resist help or refuse to let go of things. They may even take their frustration out on you. It’s not pleasant, but it’s an expected part of the process. Just try to be patient and understanding with them, as lashing out can make things worse. Your patience will show the hoarder that you plan to stick with them through the process as a constant support.


5. Expect Bumps

Hoarding is a difficult condition to overcome, and as with many things, there will be setbacks. Many hoarders relapse after the initial clean-out phase. Depending on the person’s mood and stress levels, they can throw things away one moment and refuse to the next. Try not to make your loved one feel guilty, however. These things take time.


Hoarding can be a problem for both the hoarder and their friends and loved ones. The road to recovery is long and difficult, but with a bit of help and support, you can make the path easier for the person.