This Article is About
patience
compulsive hoarding
hoarder
small appliances
helping others
resentment
possessions
clutter
family and friends
frustration
How To Help A Hoarder: Patience, Please
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Family and friends are often at a loss as to how to help a hoarder they know. When a loved one hoards, remember that, unless the behavior is life-threatening, they have a right to do so. Hoarding is confusing and confounding to those who don’t collect things in this way. And the hoarder is often ambivalent or unconcerned about the fact that they collect so much stuff, which leads to further frustration for others around them who want to help.

Tips to Helping:

Never argue with a person who hoards. This will only lead to resentment on both sides. As much as you don’t understand the logic behind hoarding, they don’t understand how you could dismiss all this great stuff so easily. Instead, talk to them about it. Ask them to look around and really see that their living space is not being used efficiently. Grab those moments when the hoarder agrees that it is difficult to maneuver around the clutter or use the furniture to sit on or dine on. Include them in the cleanup process. Ask them what “we” can do about it or how they think “we” should proceed.

Be willing to listen to their perspective. Be understanding and compassionate if there was a life-altering event that caused the compulsive hoarding. Help them realize that the items they hoard are not a viable replacement for lost loved ones or other losses they feel. Very often, this is an underlying cause for hoarding. Let them know you will be there for them and follow through regularly enough that they know you are definitely a part of their lives.

Often logic tells the hoarder that some things are just too good to discard. In order to get them to feel okay with giving some things up, suggest finding a good home for the items. Things like clothing, small appliances, and the like can be donated to organizations that help people in need. The hoarder will feel better about helping others by gifting their possessions than they will if you simply tell them it’s junk that needs to me thrown out in the trash. Keep in mind that, to the hoarder, none of their possessions are junk - it is all of some value, at least to them.

If a hoarder recognizes they need help, suggest that they give up one thing for each item they want to keep. They can donate, recycle, or discard these things depending on the inherent value of the items. Or they could have a yard sale but only if they understand that yard sale buyers won’t pay much for them.

Above all, be patient with the hoarder. Remember there is more than likely an underlying emotional cause or reason for the behavior. Realize that nothing will change unless the person who hoards recognizes they have a problem and is willing to change. It’s like an addiction in that way. It may come down to getting support, whether it be a therapist, psychologist, or support group for the hoarder. Help them here by finding the right kind of treatment and helping them follow through with appointments. If you live with a hoarder, there are groups for you too. Help is out there. Simple knowing they are not the only ones with this type of disorder will help them realize things can change for the better.


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