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How to Help a Parent Who Has Hoarding Disorder

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Types of hoarding disorder

People are moved to collect different things, so naturally there are different types of hoarders to consider. Some hoarders might struggle to let go of the mail, or other important documents, while some might have a huge accumulation of trash recycling. Animal hoarders can find themselves in legal trouble if they take on more pets than they are able to care for, and compulsive shoppers often struggle with debt despite always being on the hunt for a bargain. Some hoarders have no preferences at all, simply compiling any and everything they can find. Once you’ve identified the type of hoarder you are dealing with, getting to know their particular struggle, and coming up with a solution, becomes a little easier.

Why do you need to worry about your parent’s hoarding

  • You care about their well-being. Your parents helped to get you through life, and now you want to help them, too. Hoarding can create a lot of health hazards that can impact the whole family, but are especially detrimental to the elderly. 
  • A long life ahead. We don’t mean to be grim, but unfortunately the worst of hoarding situations can sometimes result in fatal accidents. You want your parents to get the most out of life, protecting them from the dangers of hoarding matters. 
  • They need your help. It isn’t easy to overcome hoarding disorder. If your parents are struggling with this condition, they will need your support and understanding to get through it.
  • Keep the family together. Hoarders often isolate themselves from others, and suffer from strained relationships. Helping your parents conquer their struggles means more family get togethers to enjoy with mom and dad.
  • It might mean something more. People don’t start hoarding because they love having mountains of stuff. It usually indicates an underlying problem that needs to be healed, like depression or a difficulty coping with trauma.

How do you know if your parent is developing a hoarding disorder

The first step in identifying hoarding disorder is identifying the symptoms. Hoarders tend to feel extreme distress when tasked to throw something away, and they will generally lack the organization skills necessary to maintain a nicely displayed collection. Instead, they will amass huge piles of items without rhyme or reason. Hoarders will cling to their possessions out of some perceived necessity or fear of not having it when they do need it, however these items often do not and will not ever go to use. A few bits of clutter here or there can be normal for a busy person, but when the disarray starts to make the home unusable, it’s possible there is a hoarding issue at hand.

Steps on how to help a parent with hoarding disorder

  • Talk to them. Before you run in there ramped up and ready to throw away everything in sight, talk to your loved one about your concerns. It may be a difficult conversation, but patients and compassion will be key in producing long-lasting results.
  • Help them get organized. Start with the basics. Before you get into the tough decisions of what stays and what goes, just help them to start sorting things into categories. This will help make it easier to decide what to discard later on.
  • Set goals. Keeping track of progress can be motivating to anyone doing a hoarding clutter cleanup. Having an estimated timeline, and an end result in mind also makes it easier to decide where to start.
  • Formulate a plan. Once you’ve set your goals, it’s time to consider how you will actually get things done. Write everything out in steps ahead of time to alleviate the pressure of trying to remember everything you have to do.
  • Be patient. Overcoming a hoarding disorder takes time. Your loved one is bound to experience stress and anxiety while going through this process, and may try to replenish their lost stash. Try to understand where they are coming from, and be gentle when you need to set boundaries to keep them on track.

Bring in the professionals

Hoarders911 has been helping hoarders recover their homes for nearly two decades. We are prepared for any situation, and come ready with everything from handyman repair skills to pest control solutions. Our trained experts are standing by, ready to help you get organized and get your loved ones life back on track as quickly as possible using our innovative, fully customizable  7 Step Solution.


Helping a parent confront a hoarding problem can be tough, but it’s an important step in ensuring a happy, healthy life for many years to come. Be patient, stick to the plan, and don’t be afraid to get help if you need it.

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