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5 Effective Ways to Help a Loved One with Hoarding

5 Effective Ways to Help a Loved One with Hoarding - Bio-One of Marion County

The clutter and chaos associated with hoarding can impact every aspect of life, from relationships to health, creating a sense of helplessness that's hard to shake. It's a challenging condition, both for the individual who experiences it and for their loved ones. If you have a family member or friend who hoards, you're likely looking for ways to support them without adding to the stress. Here, we present five practical and empathetic strategies on how to help a loved one with hoarding.

Disclaimer: The tips provided herein are intended for informational purposes only. Please remember that every hoarding situation is unique, and what works for one person may not work for another. We are a professional hoarding cleanup company, equipped to handle the complete remediation process with sensitivity and discretion. For personalized advice and professional cleanup services, consider reaching out to experts who can help address the specific needs of your situation.

1. Understanding How Hoarding Affects Your Loved One

To help someone with a Hoarding Disorder, the first step is gaining a deep understanding of what the condition entails. Unlike ordinary clutter, hoarding is a mental health issue where the individual has difficulty parting with possessions. The result is an accumulation of items that impede daily life activities. Some common symptoms include:

  • Severe anxiety at the thought of discarding items
  • Great difficulty categorizing or organizing possessions
  • Indecision about what to keep or where to put things

By recognizing these symptoms, you can approach the situation with patience and a clearer perspective, knowing that hoarding is not a choice but a challenge that your loved one is trying to manage.

example of clutter in house

2. Approach with Empathy

The most critical tool in your aid kit is empathy. It's essential to approach your loved one with understanding and compassion through the process. Hoarding is often rooted in past experiences or traumas and can be a source of embarrassment and shame.

Your loved one needs your support—not your judgment. Empathy can help you create a safer space for them to share their struggles and needs. Utilize phrases that convey your understanding, such as:

  • "I can see how this is hard for you,"
  • "It's okay to feel overwhelmed—we'll take this one step at a time."
  • "You're not alone in this; I'm here to help you through it."
  • "It's okay to have these items; what matters most is how you feel. How can we make this easier for you?"
  • "I understand this might feel like losing a part of yourself, but we'll find a way to keep your memories safe."

3. Professional Help is Often Necessary- Don't be Afraid to Encourage It!

Don't carry the burden alone. Hoarding often requires professional intervention. Mental health professionals can provide therapy, while support groups can offer community and shared experiences. Consider the following resources:

mid person doing research example

Do some research and present the information to your loved one as an opportunity for a path to recovery.

4. Establish Trust with Your Loved One

Many hoarders fear judgment and loss of control. To establish trust, it's important to set clear boundaries and respect for your loved one's possessions and space. Some strategies to build trust include:

  • Avoid entering their space or throwing away their items without permission.
  • Schedule regular check-ins to chat and offer help when they're ready.
  • Show consistent support without expecting immediate change.
  • Acknowledging progress, no matter how minor it may seem.
  • Listen actively when they speak about their experiences and feelings.
  • Maintain confidentiality. This reassures them that their privacy is respected.
  • Be patient and avoid pushing too hard. Change is incredibly difficult and will not happen overnight.

5. Create a Supportive Environment

Your goal should be creating an environment where your loved one feels supported. This starts with making their living space safer and cleaner, which often involves decluttering. Approach this process slowly and with their involvement. Here's how:

  • Start with non-intrusive areas
  • Categorize items together, and offer to dispose of unneeded items
  • Sustain a safe, clean space with regular, smaller tasks

Remember, the end game is not a perfectly organized home, but rather a personalized clean space where your loved one can still be comfortable and feel in control.

house cleanout example

How to help a loved one with hoarding

The key to helping someone with hoarding is understanding, patience, and a thoughtful approach. At Bio-One of Marion County, we understand the sensitivity and complexity of hoarding situations. We offer professional hoarding cleanup services carried out with compassion and discretion, ensuring the process is as stress-free as possible for your loved one and your family. If you need assistance, don't hesitate to contact us!

Bio-One specializes in blood and bodily fluids, decomposition/undiscovered death, crime scene, suicide cleanup, tear gas, feces/urine, sewage backups, and odor removal. Helping people get their lives back in order is our #1 priority. 

Bio-One of Marion County is here to help you 24/7, 365 days a year! Call (317) 499-0614, and you'll speak directly to one of us when you call; there is never an answering service.  We'll treat you like a person with the compassion and respect that you deserve.