We are often asked how to help a hoarder and if there is a certain type of person who tends to be our hoarding clients. The answer is yes and no. Hoarders are male and female, wealthy and middle class, living in apartments and homes. The commonality however is that hoarders are all educated, depressed and terribly lonely. Our hoarding clients have been pharmacists, social workers, nurses, counselors, teachers and engineers. A traumatic incident typically triggers the client to begin hoarding. We mainly see that it is a death of a family member. Contrary to popular belief Hoarders are not lazy, uneducated slobs living off the government. That could not be further from the truth. The following information is how to help a hoarder in your life.
Reserve Judgment. By reserving judgment you are showing your hoarding friend that you have compassion and are willing to just “be there”. We find that most hoarders delay getting help because there are afraid of judgment. Our employees are constantly trained on how to speak and handle hoarders.
Offer assistance. The hoarder knows they have work to do but it is too overwhelming for them. By offering your assistance you are making the project do-able. You do not have to physically help. You can call companies like Spaulding Decon to get an estimate to get the home live able again. Just by meeting contractors you are taking a huge overwhelming task off their plate. Make sure you choose a contractor who is non-judgmental, and has a wide array of helpful services.
Constantly Check-in. By constantly checking in with the hoarder you are in tune with their feelings and their anxiety. It is very common for them to feel anxious when strange people are in their home. They feel judged, and embarrassed. Make sure you have the conversation with the hoarder on what they want to keep, locate, donate, or trash. This is a huge time saver once the cleanup crew gets there.
Involve other friends or family. The hoarder will feel like they have a huge team behind them rather than just one person. This will give them a will to change and a desire to have people in their home one more time. This can impact their progress and mindset. Never throw anything away against their wishes. You will break down the trust you have gained.
Be there for Cleanup Day. Do not just set everything up and disappear. Be there for the hoarder on cleanup day. This is huge. When they become overwhelmed you can settle them down. You can also help make decisions on items.
These are the top 5 ways to help a hoarder. Hoarding is an illness and should be treated by a mental health professional.
For hoarding cleanup services – 866-993-3266 – Call our offices for referrals to mental health care professionals who treat hoarders.