Tips For Helping Hoarders
Hoarding behavior can be puzzling to many. People may wonder how individuals with hoarding behavior can continue such a lifestyle and habits that produce various difficulties such as physical dangers, social isolation, emotional turmoil, and financial concerns. Hoarding behavior does not originate because people are “slobs” or “lazy” but rather occurs due to psychological components, whether from the Compulsive Hoarding Disorder or another mental condition that may have hoarding behavior as a symptom. Not only does hoarding involve acquiring an excess amount of items, but it also involves finding it difficult to discard such items. Whether you or someone you know is seeking help for a hoarding situation, here are some tips to understanding hoarding:
- Be aware that “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” Though an average person may view some items as valueless, people with hoarding behavior feel there is value associated with the items. These said people may have difficulty distinguishing an item of value from one without, and may retain items such as impractical trinkets or trash items.
- Know that these individuals may have a strong attachment to their belongings. There may be sentimental reasoning behind each item or simply having owned the item for a long time, a connection to the item has developed. The stronger the attachment to the item, the more difficult (and even painful) it can be to part with it.
- Don’t associate hoarding behavior with a particular “type” of person; there isn’t a specific profile to a “hoarder.” Anyone can have hoarding behavior, regardless of social class, ethnicity, religion, gender, age, etc.
- Understand that hoarding can impact everyone. Hoarding conditions can produce various dangers (physical, mental, emotional, financial, social, etc.) which can affect the individual who is hoarding as well as others. People living with an individual who is hoarding may develop resentment towards the person and their predicament. Communities may be affected by odors or pests that do not stay within the hoarding boundaries. Emergency personnel may even be harmed in an attempt to assist inhabitants of a hoarding home during an emergency situation.
- Try to be patient, empathetic, and compassionate. Be patient when approaching an individual with hoarding behavior and try to put yourself in their shoes to understand their behavior and how they feel. Try not to judge and avoid hostility as it will only make the situation worse and potentially close the individual off to help.
The first step to resolving a hoarding situation is to begin with education about hoarding behavior. Having an understanding of what hoarding is and how individuals who hoard think and behave is crucial to be able to properly help. The tips above will help you begin to develop an understanding of hoarding in order to better prepare you to address a hoarding situation. If you intend to approach a family member, friend, or client about his/her hoarding habits, Address Our Mess recommends viewing our Hoarding Help Guide prior to discussion in order to know what to say (and what to avoid) in order to be more effective in your approach. In addition to knowledge, outlets that can help resolve hoarding include therapists, social workers, support groups, hoarding task forces, and specialty cleaning services, such as Address Our Mess. Equipped with a better understanding of hoarding and available local resources, you and your loved ones will be able to overcome hoarding and restore property conditions.