As estimates reveal, roughly 2% to 5% of Australians deal with some sort of minor or severe hoarding disorder. This disorder tends to have a major effect on one’s lifestyle and general happiness, and with age becomes increasingly worse. Dealing with this yourself, or for a family member is exceedingly difficult and can be hard to understand for those who have had little to do with the disorder. There are however a few companies out there working to make the process a little easier.
The most common explanation from those who hoard various items is that the clutter and items that aren’t being thrown out “may be useful” in the future. The problem with this arises when seemingly nothing is thrown away, not even rubbish or food packaging. The issue generally stems from an inflated feeling of attachment for almost every item, and because of this, throwing anything away and clearing out hoarded items becomes near impossible for a hoarder to do on their own.
Helping a friend or family member overcome their hoarding disorder can be emotionally draining and very difficult, to say the least. It really does require some professional assistance, regardless of who you’re trying to help.
To help with the situation we’ve listed a few ways you can help support and push forward with helping someone with a hoarding disorder.
Focus on the sufferer, not their clutter
One of the most common errors family members and friends of hoarders make is not taking the disorder seriously and simply taking control of all of the clutter and throwing it all away in one go. This could, and most likely will, cause serious emotional distress and make the person suffering feel totally violated and attacked.
Combat this by focusing more on the person and their issues. Make them feel you understand them and that you’ll be focusing on their issues and helping, rather than going overboard and hiring a rubbish collection service to take everything away.
Without the correct care and attention to the sufferer, you’ll most likely see them return to their old ways immediately after removing all of their belongings. Something you don’t want to happen.
Organise a capable removal team
When you’ve agreed with your friend or family member that removing some, or all of the clutter is a good idea you can then speak to an experienced rubbish removal business that is skilled and experienced with clearing clutter and rubbish from hoarding.
Working with professionals means that you’ll be given the best chance of clearing the home or space as fast as possible with little effort. Typically, full-service rubbish collection teams physically help out with the removal and take the clutter to their trucks so you can focus on dealing with other issues at hand, like what to remove and what can stay.
Be there for your loved one
At both times, before and during the cleanup you’ll need to make sure that your friend or family member is comfortable and not stressed during the whole process. It’s not uncommon for people with hoarding disorders to feel totally isolated and unloved by people in their lives, so make sure to keep this a high priority.
A good way to make them feel like they’re not being judged is to simply let them know that you understand hoarding isn’t their entire personality and doesn’t make them who they are. It’s merely a small segment of their life and it can be dealt with without judgment.
Set goals and celebrate the success
This is a great way to get the process going if your friend or family member is a little apprehensive during or before the cleanup. Set small goals that you know they can fulfil and celebrate them. This can be something as simple as clearing off a bench top or throwing out just a box full of clutter.
Being patient here is essential too. It’s not that rare for someone suffering from hoarding disorder to take hours to agree to throw away just a single item, so, when you’ve made your first step, celebrate it and keep the momentum going.
Allow your loved one to feel in control
Another major step is to make sure that you don’t look like the bossy person who’s in control of the cleanup. Put the majority of the process on to the person suffering from the hoarding disorder and make the process about them moving on – not about you pushing them to do something they don’t want to do.
In the beginning, a good way to make sure these processes work is by setting a boundary with your loved one from the very start. This way they understand you’re here to help and not to boss around and take charge.
If you can, do your best to refer your family member or friend to an expert in the field. Sometimes there needs to be an extra push, and that can come in the form of getting them to admit there’s a problem and taking them to see a specialist.
This step may be one of the hardest, but it is one that is more likely to work and have a lasting effect and is almost certainly going to prevent future hoarding and other issues. If the help goes well, they may even choose to continue going on their own.