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How to Help a Hoarder Move into a New Home

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How to Help a Hoarder Move into a New Home

Helping a hoarder move requires a delicate touch and strong planning skills. With the proper preparations and understanding, an overwhelming hoarding cleanup can become a cathartic life transformation. 

Our heavy duty cleaning experts work to help hoarders reclaim their lives from hazardous compulsive collecting habits every day. 

Helping our clients understand the challenges they might face is always the first step we take towards overcoming them. 

In today’s post, we will show you the step-by-step guide on how to help a hoarder move into a new home

Contents

What is Hoarding

People with a hoarding disorder display a chronic difficulty throwing things away.

Hoarders cling to personal possessions, or compulsively collect items because of a strong perception that keeping these items is vital. 

Often, the collection of items that a hoarder amasses will grow beyond a reasonable amount, causing hazardous clutter and unhealthy living conditions. 

While many hoarders consider themselves collectors, the main difference is that the hoarder will be unable to neatly display their collection and exhibit great distress even when faced with discarding items that do not have a clear purpose.

Challenges Hoarders Face While Moving

The fear of being judged puts a lot of pressure on people struggling with hoarding disorder to live very private lives. 

Hoarders are often not accustomed to having guests in their home, and having those guests go through and pack up their things can be very stressful. 

While most of us see moving as a fresh, new beginning, the decision making that comes with moving can be of great difficulty to a hoarder. 

Exposing themselves to others, and being tasked to choose what stays and what goes can be overwhelming. Luckily, our experts have compiled a list of things to make helping a hoarder move easier for everyone. 

How to Help a Hoarder Move Into a New Home

Helping a hoarder move is not an easy undertaking. It needs to be carefully planned and executed without causing any mental harm to the patient. With that said, here are the step-by-step guide on how to help a hoarder move into a new house.

Understand the Situation

Understanding the situation is the best way to create a solution.

Having an idea of what you’ll be facing during the move will help with the decision making process, and understanding your loved one’s feelings will help you exercise a patient, gentle approach. 

Our 7 Step Solution includes decluttering and organizing, but before we get to that point we always do a thorough assessment. 

This is what allows our services to be so flexible, and ultimately what makes them so effective. 

The following tips are used by our experts in the field every day, and we’re sure they’ll help you with your plan of action as well. 

  1. Measure the amount of clutter in the home
  2. Determine how much of the home is blocked off by clutter
  3. Evaluate if the clutter is unhygienic, or a fire hazard.
  4. Acknowledge your loved ones stress levels when discarding their possessions
  5. Ascertain the strength of the hoarder’s impulse to collect new things
  6. Be honest about how much control you have over the situation
  7. Assess the overall condition of the home and any structural damage
  8. Establish the type of clutter, is it food, mail, recycling, or something else?
  9. Be patient with your loved one’s distress and listen to their concerns
  10. Work together to come to an agreement on the next steps

Stay Positive

Although it can be easy to get frustrated, that won’t solve anything.

The average person can see a simple solution to a hoarding issue – throw everything away. 

However, the anxiety caused by this type of decision making can be debilitating to a hoarder, and trying to force things won’t get you anywhere.

Be supportive and help your loved one work through their difficulties on their own. 

Because hoarding is linked to a deeper psychological struggle, and not the clutter itself, forcing a hoarder to throw things away will not bring long-term success. 

Discarding things during the move without your loved one’s consent will cause them further distress, which will lead to more compulsive hoarding in the future. 

Instead, work with your loved one to sort, pack, and make tough decisions about their belongings together.

Although you might see the move as the perfect time to throw things away for a clean slate, the results will have a lasting effect if your loved one comes to a conclusion about what to keep and what to get rid of on their own.

Identify What Type of Hoarder a Person is

The common qualities that all hoarders share is having a strong impulse to collecting and a powerful aversion to discarding. 

However, everybody is different and hoarders are no exception.

Understanding the type of hoarder you are working with can help you create a personalized solution, just like our experts do on the field every day.

Animal Hoarders

This type of hoarding behavior causes people to bring home more animals than they can reasonably care for, and often leads to severe health problems for the pets. 

Although the animal hoarder might take on new pets out of love, the conditions that they live in can lead to neglect.

More about animal hoarders.

Compulsive Collectors

While this term does not refer to a specific hoarding preference, anyone who displays extreme anxiety at the thought of throwing things away, even when those things are hazardous to their health, and an impulsive need to acquire new things can be considered a compulsive collector.

More about compulsive collectors.

Compulsive Shoppers

If your loved one is unable to resist a bargain, even when they have no use for what they are buying, they might be a compulsive shopper. 

In its extreme form, compulsive shopping can lead to overwhelming credit card debt.

This is not simply when a person goes a little overboard with their splurges from time to time, but when they have a true obsession with shopping.

More about compulsive shoppers.

Food Hoarders

People who cannot part with their food, even long after it has expired, exhibit food hoarding tendencies.

Some food hoarders might stash their food in unusual places, or steal food even when it is overwhelming their homes. The overflowing amount of food in hoarder homes can lead to serious health risks if left to rot.

More about food hoarders.

Information Hoarders

Unmanageable, overwhelming fear that a piece of information will not be available when they need it causes information hoarders to amass piles of paper so large they are no longer able to sort through them. 

Information hoarders collect anything from grocery receipts and old bills to business cards and outdated calendars.

Unfortunately, the large amount of paper clutter can be an extremely dangerous fire hazard.

More about information hoarders.

Mail Hoarders

A compulsive tendency to stockpile things received in the mail is another form of hoarding that results in massive amounts of paper over cluttering the home. 

The collection can include old packaging materials, greeting cards, or expired coupons. 

Because of the overflowing paper clutter, mail hoarders are susceptible to the same fire hazard risks as information hoarders.

More about mail hoarders.

Miscellaneous Hoarders

While some hoarders stick to a specific kind of item or behavior, a miscellaneous hoarder will accumulate a haphazard assortment of items. 

Their compulsive collecting habits will apply to any and everything, making it difficult to sort through their belongings. 

In the worst of cases, piles of things can cause entire rooms of the home to be completely blocked.

More about miscellaneous hoarders.

Trash Hoarders

In extreme cases, hoarders can suffer from syllogomania. Trash hoarders often avoid visitors because of the poor living conditions their disposophobia causes. 

The inability to remove garbage from the home can have a severe impact on health, and in a worst-case scenario can be the reason for an eviction notice.

More about trash hoarders.

Recycling Hoarders

Some people like to let the recycling build up so they can turn it in for cash. However, a recycling hoarder will never make it to turn in their collection. 

Because it is just paper or plastic, hoarding recycling might not seem as harmful as hoarding trash.

However, recycling hoarders face many of the same health and legal risks as trash hoarders.

More about recycling hoarders.

Hiding Hoarders

The stress of having someone discover their collections cause some hoarders to try to stash their personal belongings. 

Hiding their things might also help the hoarder feel a sense of security.

This type of behavior is linked to intense feelings of avoidance and anxiety, and should always be approached with compassion.

More about hiding hoarders.

Diogenes Sufferers

Hoarding disorders are linked to mental health issues such as depression.

Diogenes Syndrome is a severe condition that causes the sufferer to live in extreme squalor and cease self-care. 

Hoarders with Diogenes Syndrome take time, patience, and understanding to make a change. Professional help is highly recommended.

More about Diogenes Sufferers.

Create a Moving Strategy

Moving can be a tough job, and the clutter amassed in a hoarding situation can make the move all the more overwhelming.

Having a plan before beginning is a great way to stay on track, and measure progress. 

The stress and anxiety of moving will often cause a hoarder to opt out of the move altogether, so having a clear plan is the best way to minimize this struggle.  

Below are some examples of what our experts consider when developing a strategy for our own Hoarder Estate Cleanup service.

We hope these tips will help you too!

  • Give your loved one plenty of time to process. It can be tough to work through the anxiety of disposophobia, and no one should feel rushed. This means starting the move as early as possible, and not trying to cram it all in over just a few days.
  • Agree to make decisions on an item only once. The more a hoarder thinks about their possessions, the more likely they are to change their minds and hold on to them longer. Avoid this by setting the standard to handle each and every item only one time, and once a decision is made, make it final.
  • Talk to your loved one to determine which of their possessions has the highest emotional attachment. Work together to determine the best use for items that are kept. Reduce the tendency to set things aside for later, and find a use for things that are a priority right away. This will lessen the chance of holding on to something that will become hazardous in the future.
  • Write things down. Discuss your strategy with your loved one, and write things down as you agree on them. Keeping a checklist will help you stay on track when things become overwhelming, and it will reduce the likelihood of flip-flopping or confusion when the anxiety of moving sets in.
  • Sort items by room when packing to ensure things that are kept have a permanent home and won’t end up in a clutter pile in the next home. This is the easiest way to begin to paint a picture of what is necessary and what isn’t, and everyone will feel a rewarding sense of accomplishment as things become organized.
  • Set a budget from the very beginning. The costs of packing materials and moving vehicles can add up, especially when dealing with the large amount of possessions that a hoarder has accumulated. Deciding on a budget will help to set limits for what will be kept during the move. And prevent last minute spikes in moving  expenses.
  • Instead of telling the hoarder what you think they should discard, help them figure out what they need and where things should go for themselves. Asking questions like “what will you need this for?” or “when will you use this in the future?” can help the hoarder to draw conclusions without feeling like they are being forced.
  • Downsize wherever possible. Reducing a collection can be tough, however a good way to begin editing is to remove duplicate or damaged items. Remind your loved one that although parting with their things can be hard, downsizing will help the kept items to truly be enjoyable.
  • Work one room at a time. Trying to go through the entire home all in one shot can be overwhelming, and throwing too much away at once will result in feelings of regret When developing your plan of action, choose the order that you would like to go through each room. This will help you stay organized and track your accomplishments.
  • Above all else, remember to be compassionate. Letting someone into their home and sort through their things can be an incredibly stressful time for a hoarder. Being too harsh or too forceful can have adverse effects. When creating your strategy, always listen to your loved one’s concerns, and let them know that you are here to help.

Help Remove Clutter Whenever Possible

Control the clutter. During a normal clutter cleanup, our experts will designate an area of the home to store miscellaneous clutter to sort through at the end. 

Doing this during a move will help eliminate hazards and create a safe workspace. It also helps give your loved one time to work through the tough decisions of what stays and what goes.

  • Step 1: Plan out the essentials. Before you even begin to look through the clutter, decide what items are absolutely essential. 

    This will help you make tough decisions on what to keep and what to discard later.

    Designate an area to store the items you are keeping so they do not get lost with the rest of the clutter.

  • Step 2: Set Goals. Just like planning out your essential items will make you make decisions, setting goals will help keep you on track. 

    Write down your goals for each room, and choose a reasonable timeframe with which to accomplish those goals. 

    This will come in handy when deliberating over what to keep or what to clean up next starts to eat into your allotted time for the cleanup.

  • Step 3: Develop a System. Create a system with which you can sort through the belongings. Designating bin fon items to be kept, donated, and discarded. 

    As you work through the home, this system will help to keep things moving and ensure a streamlined process.

  • Step 4: Work Room by Room. Cleaning one room at a time will help to track progress and make cleanup a lot less overwhelming.
  • Step 5: Pack it Up and Carry it Out. Don’t take too long making a decision. Choose a designated area for discarded items. 

    Pack items to be discarded into boxes or bags and carry them away immediately. 

    This reduces further buildup of unsightly clutter, and prevents indecision from causing discarded items to end up back in the keep pile.

Be Patient and Accommodating

Remember, hoarding is not just a bad habit. It is a mental illness that requires a gentle touch. 

Hoarding disorders are linked to many various mental health issues, such as Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, anxiety, and depression. 

The compulsive collecting habits that are associated with hoarding can also be responses to traumatic life experiences. 

For example, a food hoarder might be unwilling to throw out even expired food out of a strong fear of starvation. 

It is important to remember to be patient, and have compassion. Showing your loved one that you are here to help support them with whatever they are working through will yield lasting, positive results. 

While the goal is not to enable the hoarding to continue, it is important to be accommodating as your loved one works through their struggle. 

The following examples are ways that our experts remain accommodating in even the most complex situations.

  • Practice Mindfulness. Moving can cause a hoarder great amounts of distress. Being mindful of your reactions and how they might affect others can help mitigate a stressful situation and turn it into a supportive environment where your loved one can safely confront their hoarding.
  • Be a Good Listener. Talking about discarding a hoarder’s personal belongings, even when those items are hazardous to their health, can often lead to conflict. 

    Always approach these situations delicately. Listening to your loved one’s concerns and showing them compassion can help them to feel more open to receiving help. 

    Perhaps you can even work a solution out together.

  • Put yourself in their position. It can be difficult to understand what leads someone to compulsively collect even at the expense of their wellbeing. 

    However, being a good listener means putting yourself in the shoes of someone else. Perhaps you cannot relate to the deep impulse to collect, however you can relate to strong feelings of distress. 

    It is up to you to find common ground between you and your loved one, but doing so can have a significant impact on the situation.

  • Involve them in the Decision Making. You can’t let them keep everything, however decisions about your loved one’s belongings should always be made with their consent. 

    Although the temptation to grab everything and throw it away will be there, ultimately this will not solve the problem. 

    Working with your loved ones to create clear boundaries on what is kept and what is thrown away, and helping them understand why will create the framework for a healthy future.

Seek Help from Professionals

Don’t be afraid to seek professional help. Consult your loved one’s therapist for tips on how to help them work through their distress. Always get permission before approaching a mental health service provider. 

If there are professional organizers in your area, make an appointment to get an extra pair of eyes and a set of helping hands.

The Hoarders911 professionals are available around the clock for all of your needs.

Help Hoarders Organize Their New Home

Once you’ve packed up and moved out, the next step is to unpack and move in! Taking the time to organize can minimize the chance of a future buildup of clutter and maximize the positive results of your hard work.

The following step by step guide will help you create a plan of action to organize the new home.

  • Step 1: Evaluate the Storage Space. Understanding how much storage is in the home will help you determine how to best utilize the space so that it serves your loved one’s needs. 

    The goal is to not simply stuff everything into closets and cabinets, but to keep things in such a way that they are functional. 

    If you need to purchase additional shelving or storage units, this is the time to address that.

    However, try to keep any furniture choices limited to what can be displayed nicely.

  • Step 2: Sort by Function. The easiest way to decide where something should go is how it will be used. Kitchen items such as blenders, pots and pans, or canned food, should be kept in the kitchen where they can be accessible. 

    If a room has become full and it does not make sense to store the item somewhere else, it might be time to reconsider keeping it.

  • Step 3: Assemble. Once the storage has been planned out and the personal items have been sorted, it is time to put everything in its designated home. 

    Involving your loved one in this process will help them begin to develop the healthy habits that they need to reclaim their life.

Conclusion

People with a hoarding disorder display a chronic difficulty throwing things away.

Hoarders cling to personal possessions, or compulsively collect items because of a strong perception that keeping these items is vital. 

Often, the collection of items that a hoarder amasses will grow beyond a reasonable amount, causing hazardous clutter and unhealthy living conditions. 

While many hoarders consider themselves collectors, the main difference is that the hoarder will be unable to neatly display their collection and exhibit great distress even when faced with discarding items that do not have a clear purpose.

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