Hoarding disorders may overwhelm you if you know someone with one. It is frustrating and sad to witness someone suffer from such a disorder. What you should know if you are attempting to help a hoarder are some important dos and don’ts.
Hoarding disorders can often be exacerbated by the approach taken by friends. It’s also possible to speak in ways that are beneficial and productive.
An overview of the article
- Embrace a person who suffers from hoarding disorder and empathize with them.
- Recognize every small victory that they achieve and offer help whenever necessary.
- Whenever necessary, encourage them to get help from a professional, in person or online.
- Numerous hoarding groups are available online and in person.
Do’s for helping someone with hoarding disorder
Hoarders can be difficult to deal with, especially when you don’t know what to say. When you speak with someone who has a hoarding disorder, you may find yourself in an emotional situation. To help someone who is struggling with hoarding, here are some helpful suggestions for how to help someone with hoarding disorder:
1. Become familiar with hoarding
The causes of hoarding disorder are numerous and complex. When you want to help someone you care about, learning about hoarding can be a great place to start. Hoarding disorder is often viewed as something illogical and nonsensical. Being empathetic can be difficult if you think of it like that, so educating yourself can help you improve your support system.
2. Don’t worry about the stuff
It’s important to recognize that hoarding disorder is usually more than the “stuff.” It usually has underlying causes. Focus on the factors contributing to the behavior of your friend rather than the objects as you work to help them.
3. Listen and empathize
It is common for people with hoarding disorders to experience social isolation and relationship problems. Some people with hoarding disorders avoid their loved ones due to judgmental feelings. Be a supportive friend who listens compassionately and empathically to prevent your friend from spiraling into isolation.
4. Set reasonable expectations
Hoarding doesn’t just happen overnight. The process can take a long time. Recovering from hoarding will be no different. Encourage your friend to set realistic and attainable goals during his or her recovery by being reasonable with your expectations.
5. Appreciate positive changes
People with hoarding disorder should celebrate their victories, no matter how small. Taking even a small step in the right direction is something worth recognizing because it will inspire further and more significant changes.
6. Offer to help
A person with hoarding disorder can be assisted in many different ways without being enabled. You may help the person clean and sort their home with permission. Don’t hurry them through it. Take your time. If you would like to help, you can research therapists for them or attend a support group or meet with them.
7. Encourage teletherapy and online counseling
Nowadays, teletherapy and telehealth are more common and effective forms of mental health treatment due to technological advances. Those suffering from substance abuse or mental illness can receive teletherapy treatment at The Recovery Village.
8. Refer Them to Professionals
The idea of getting help often overwhelms people with hoarding disorder. Different treatment options are available for hoarding disorder. There is no way you can force a loved one to seek professional treatment for hoarding, but you could research treatment programs and providers. If your friend is open to hearing what you have discovered, share it with them.
Don’ts for helping a hoarder
There are times when it is difficult to know what to say versus what not to say when you have a relationship with a hoarder, regardless of whether it is a romantic partner, a friend or a family member. If you talk to a hoarder about getting rid of their possessions or making a change, they can become emotional or defensive. Hoarders can be difficult to deal with, especially if you want to be supportive and help them.
The following things should never be said or done to a hoarder:
1. Don’t touch their belongings without permission
Though you might want to help someone you care about, when they suffer from hoarding disorder you should be careful not to hurt them or worsen their problem. The act of removing items without the hoarder’s consent or touching their items could upset them or damage your relationship with them.
It is not typically a wise long-term strategy to discard items without permission. You’ll not only upset or anger someone by doing it, but they’ll also be less likely to seek professional assistance and more likely to continue engaging in the same behavior patterns.
2. Don’t expect a quick clean-up
The process of getting rid of items and cleaning up a hoarder’s space takes time. If you expect them to do it overnight, you may be frustrated and impede their progress.
Hoarding does not take place overnight either – it can take years or decades. The thing is, it’s not just throwing objects away, it’s a healing process and sometimes facing some painful truths.
3. Don’t judge them
Hoarders do not want to feel judged when they are struggling with their habits. Supporting and even encouraging someone to seek help can be done without being judgmental. Try to remain empathetic throughout the process.
4. Don’t enable hoarding behavior
You may not be able to control the behavior of someone else, but you can manage your own. Identify ways in which you might be an enabler to the hoarder. Don’t give hoarders gifts every year, for example. Be sure not to shop with them, and do not store their items.
Hoarding disorder sufferers should avoid any of these behaviors, even if they seem to be helpful at the time.
5. Don’t clean up after them
You may be creating one less reason for someone with a hoarding disorder to seek help and make things change on their own if you regularly clean up for them. It is possible to go through a hoarder’s items and organize them, but that does not mean you are eliminating the underlying cause.
6. Don’t expect perfection
Trying to stay calm is the best way to avoid frustration. It’s going to be difficult for a hoarder to accept change if you care about him. When you start to make changes, do not make them feel as though they have to be perfect. It is better to make gradual changes. Once someone makes a change, they may also face setbacks. That’s how life works. Instead of expecting them to be perfect, help them to get back on track.
Additional hoarding resources
Hoarding resources and support programs are available throughout the country in addition to professional treatment programs. These groups are a good way to get in touch with local services and find information. People struggling with hoarding can find support through support groups where they can share their experiences and connect with others going through the same things.
You can find therapists and support programs on the International OCD Foundation. They can help you find information and resources about hoarding. Additionally, they offer educational resources for families and individuals.
Another group that offers support for hoarders is Clutterers Anonymous. There are no religious affiliations or organizations associated with the group, but it is a fellowship for men and women. Clutterers Anonymous’ website allows people to enter their zip code to find a meeting in their area. If you are unable to attend an in-person meeting for any reason, you can also attend by phone or Skype. A list of phone numbers and Skype names can be found on the website.
Key points: Helping a friend with hoarding disorder
- The disorder of hoarding is sometimes linked to anxiety disorders or obsessive compulsive disorders
- When helping someone with hoarding disorder, avoid causing distress to your friend. Don’t interfere with their possessions or throw them away without their permission.
- Learn about hoarding disorder and try to show empathy to your friend as positive ways to help them.
- When your friend struggles with hoarding, encourage him or her to seek treatment.
A person with hoarding disorder, as well as their loved ones, can experience a great deal of anxiety and frustration. If you want to be a good friend, there are things to avoid as well as approaches you can use to be helpful.