Before you try to help your loved one get organized, there are a few things you should know. Hoarders require specialized care.
Hoarding is a big problem that impacts somewhere between 5 million and 14 million Americans each year. From the outside looking in, it can be incredibly difficult to comprehend why anyone would choose to be so overwhelmed by clutter.
After discovering that someone you care about may be struggling with a hoarding problem, your natural inclination will probably be to say something.
You can see how unhealthy their lifestyle is, and how much stress it is causing.
As the caring person that you are, it makes sense that you want to help encourage your loved one to clean up and start making better choices.
Unfortunately, if you’re not prepared to handle the situation properly you may end up doing more harm than good. Expressing your concerns may have the opposite effect that you intended, discouraging your loved one or even embarrassing them.
When hoarders are put on the defense, they are likely to isolate themselves further and collect even more stuff.
So, we know you want to help them declutter. But it’s best to wait until you’re confident that you can address the situation effectively.
Hoarding is usually a sign of other mental health issues that need to be healed.
It could be trauma, depression, or anxiety. One of the most common causes of hoarding is OCD.
That means there is a lot more going on than simply not wanting to throw away the trash. In fact, many hoarders are not happy with the way they live at all.
But the extreme distress they feel towards parting with their things is too much to handle.
So, reminding your loved one that the choices they are making are not the best will not be productive. It will only make them feel bad.
If you want to help your loved one recover from hoarding, you need a much more compassionate approach.
Why is it so hard for hoarders to get rid of stuff?
This is a commonly asked question for a lot of people who discover their loved one is hoarding.
They wonder why their friend or family member doesn’t just throw that junk away. Can’t they see that it’s broken, rotting, or useless? Surely they must know this isn’t good!
To a healthy person, it may seem obvious to put something in the trash and move on.
But hoarders are operating on a very different level. For hoarders, holding on to their things is often a matter of survival – even if the item in question has no real value.
This phenomenon is known as disposophobia, and it’s a real struggle for many hoarders.
Because of its relationship with mental health issues, people who suffer from a hoarding disorder will often feel an irrational but strong attachment to their belongings.
The disposophobia is triggered when a hoarder feels like their collection is at risk. At the root, this behavior is a trauma response.
Hoarders usually compulsively collect things because they are stuck in survival mode. That is, they are afraid that they will need something one day and not have it. So, they do whatever it takes to hold on to the things that they deem as important.
Another reason for this attachment is that the items may have extreme sentimental value. A broken knick-knack or crumpled-up old drawing may seem like trash to you.
But to a hoarder, it might be a precious memory that they don’t want to lose.
It may be hard to understand how someone can become so deeply connected to a bunch of stuff, especially when it’s to the point that it’s damaging to their health or home.
That’s why it’s so important to remember the mental health implications of hoarding. You are not dealing with someone who is thinking on healthy terms. If you want to encourage them to declutter, you must first help them overcome their psychological challenges.
Can You Force a Hoarder to Clean Up?
Under no circumstances should you ever try to force a hoarder to get rid of anything. This will only cause a bigger issue, as it will trigger their disposophobia.
People struggling with a hoarding disorder will have extreme emotional reactions if they feel too much pressure to throw things away. You will lose their trust, and push them deeper into an already negative state of mind.
Unfortunately, there will be situations where you may feel like you don’t have the time to be patient. This happens in cases of eviction, or property damage.
But it is of the utmost importance that you allow your loved one to make their own decisions.
It is the only way to be sure that they will remain cooperative, and not regress back into hoarding once you leave.
We know that it might be shocking to discover that your loved one is struggling with hoarding. As a concerned party, you are going to want to try to help them recover as quickly as possible.
Unfortunately, if you try to take matters into your own hands you are never going to get through to them. The best thing you can do is to withhold your judgment and express your concerns in the most gentle way possible.
Allow them time to digest everything, and let them know you are here to support them. Once you’ve gotten through some tough conversations you should work together to create a plan.
Setting goals is one of the best ways to help a hoarder clean up.
It helps you to track your progress and minimize feeling overwhelmed. By including your loved one in developing the plan, you are also allowing them to make their own decisions.
Doing this is a great way to help them learn healthy habits to continue living a clean, organized, healthy lifestyle once you’re done decluttering.
Getting Help with Hoarding
One of the most important things you can do to help your loved one with hoarding is to seek professional help. Cleaning a hoarder’s home is a big job, and if you don’t have the right support it will be a lot harder on everyone.
Working with a professional hoarding cleaning company is a great way to go.
The right service will take all the pressure off of you to handle everything, and you’ll be free to help your loved one through any difficulties they might have.
Even when they agree to it, cleaning up can be very emotionally distressing for a hoarder.
Working with an experienced professional will give you the tools you need to help your loved one succeed in taking the first steps towards a healthier life.
Hoarding Cleaning NYC
For nearly 30 years, the experts at Hoarders911 have been helping hoarders recover. We look at hoarding cleaning as more than just what needs to be thrown away.
The 7-Step Solution that we developed is designed to accommodate any and every issue you may come across in a hoarder’s home. This includes pest control, handyman repairs, sanitizing & deodorizing, and clutter clearing.
But we don’t stop there. We will involve you and your loved one in every step of the decision-making process as part of our commitment to nurturing a true recovery from hoarding.
Our discreet junk removal services are available 24/7, to help you get rid of stuff whenever it makes the most sense.
To learn more about our personalized hoarding cleaning services, give us a call.
Schedule a no-risk consultation today: 718 627 5781
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