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How to Help a Relative Who Hoards

How to Help a Relative Who Hoards

Posted by on September 21, 2020
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Hoarding is a mental health condition that can strain a loved one’s life, like compromising their immune system due to hazardous living conditions, causing rifts between family and friends, and creating isolation.

According to eMentalHealth.ca: “Compulsive hoarding (a.k.a., pathological hoarding) is acquiring possessions along with the failure to discard them, even if the items are worthless, no longer useful. Hoarded items fill the person’s home, and can cause severe problems with day-to-day activities and relationships, and even pose a danger to life through being a fire and safety hazard.”

There are no accurate statistics on the prevalence of hoarding in Canada. Still, experts have approximated that it affects 2 to 6 percent of the population, as referenced by U.S. numbers.

If you have a relative who hoards, you can always offer support and encourage them to seek help if they feel ready to do so. With your support and non-judgement, you can make recovery possible for them. Here are some other ways you can help a loved one who hoards:

Do Not Clean Up their Items Without their Permission

If your loved one’s house is cluttered with items, cleaning it up for them can actually make things worse. It won’t remedy the underlying issue, and it can create tension and strain with your relative. Also, cleaning up or getting rid of their possessions can cause extreme emotional distress, so even if your intentions are good, they can be harmful.

You can help your relative sort their possessions, but doing it without asking or without them involved in the process can be damaging. Your loved one must make decisions for themselves, so be patient with them and let them take the lead.

Avoid Enabling the Behaviour

Even though you can’t make a loved one quit hoarding, you can stop enabling their behaviour. An example of enabling behaviour includes storing items for them in your home. Instead, since you cannot force them to get help, you can assist in other ways, like finding a therapist or resources in the community.

Do Your Research

Educating yourself about hoarding can be beneficial to your loved one. While TV shows about hoarding may create awareness for this mental health disorder, some experts believe that they create an inaccurate representation of hoarding and may not be helpful. Instead, read articles from credible online sources, consult mental health professionals, or find a support group. Then, you’ll better understand the loneliness, anxiety, and fear surrounding this disorder, and you will be able to be empathetic and supportive.

Celebrate Small Victories

If a person has been hoarding for years, habits can be difficult to break, and it can take a lengthy amount of time to get rid of any possessions or see progress. That’s why it’s essential to recognize and celebrate small victories; that way, it will provide incentives to keep encouraging positive behaviours. You can offer praise any time they throw away an item or stop purchasing new ones.

Help Them Sort Through their Possessions

For many hoarders, they will collect so many things that they fill up their whole house. Even if they get help and start to reduce their hoarding behaviours, they will still be left with a home full of belongings. If they are comfortable getting help from you, you can volunteer to assist them with sorting through their items. There are even companies out there that specialize in helping hoarders clean out their homes and get rid of their things.

Help Your Relative Find the Proper Treatment

As previously mentioned, proper treatment can be beneficial when your relative is willing to seek help. The first step toward treatment may seem stressful, but can be incredibly helpful for your loved one. Do a Google search in your area and see if there are therapists that specialize in hoarding. If you are in the GTA, you can also check out the Toronto Hoarding Support Services Network’s website, as they have many beneficial resources for hoarding.

Listen to Them

It is essential to listen to your relative so that you can be there for them in the best way possible. Do not judge them for their mental health disorder, no more than you would for someone who had a physical health ailment. Hoarding is not a condition that someone chooses, so your support, openness, and knowledge will likely lead your loved one to seek treatment. If you show that you are disappointed or judgemental, they will feel shame and be less inclined to seek help.

If you have a relative with a hoarding disorder, now you have some tools that will be useful to their treatment and wellbeing. If they have agreed to accept your help and are in the process of sorting through their items, renting a disposal bin can be a convenient and affordable way to get rid of items and free up their living space.

At Red Bins, we provide flexible disposal bin rental options for our clients to take care of their unique needs. We also know that helping your relative who is hoarding might be an emotional process, so we want to reduce any stress and provide solutions that will help your situation. We will drop your bin to your desired location and take it away when you don’t need it anymore, so you don’t have to worry about any of the details.

We offer four different sized bin options to suit your junk removal needs and will help you along in your decluttering process.

If you are interested in renting disposal bins from us, contact us at 416-RED-BINS, and we can help you get organized.

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