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How to Help a Loved One Struggling with Hoarding Disorder

Updated: Oct 26, 2023

If you have a loved one who is struggling with hoarding disorder it can be challenging for both you and them. However, there are ways you can provide support and assistance. In this guide, we will explore strategies and understand the basics of hoarding disorder to help your loved one. From recognising the signs of hoarding disorder to finding interventions we've got you covered in this guide.

A pile of trash

Understanding Hoarding Disorder

Hoarding disorder involves the accumulation of possessions and difficulty letting go of them even if they hold no material value. It goes beyond clutter and can have serious consequences such as living in unhealthy conditions, strained relationships and both physical and mental health risks. To effectively assist your loved one it's important to have an understanding of the basics surrounding this disorder

What Causes Hoarding Disorder?

A post-it note pad with the words 'pay debt' written on it

While the exact cause of hoarding disorder is not fully understood it is believed to arise from a combination of environmental and psychological factors. Traumatic life events like loss or abandonment may also contribute to triggering hoarding behaviours.

Signs of Hoarding Disorder

Girl sitting on floor beside a toilet

Identifying the signs of hoarding disorder is the first step in helping your loved one. Look out for the following:

● Excessive Clutter: Accumulating an excessive amount of items that render living spaces unusable.

● Difficulty Discarding: An inability to throw away even worthless items.

● Emotional Attachment: Strong emotional attachments to possessions, often associating them with memories or sentimental value.

● Isolation: Withdrawal from social activities due to shame or embarrassment about the hoarding.

● Neglect of Living Conditions: Living in unsanitary or unsafe conditions due to hoarding.

How to Help a Loved One Struggling with Hoarding Disorder

Now that you have a better understanding of hoarding disorder, let's explore steps you can take to support a loved one struggling with hoarding disorder:

Initiate a Compassionate Conversation

Approach your loved one with care and understanding, expressing your concern without judgment. Let them know you're there, for support and genuinely want to understand their perspective.

Encourage Professional Help

Hoarding disorder often requires professional intervention so suggest that your loved one seek assistance from a therapist or counsellor experienced in treating hoarding behavior. Therapy can provide coping strategies. Address underlying emotional issues.

Offer Practical Assistance

Your loved one may feel overwhelmed by the thought of decluttering their living space. Offer to assist them in a non-intrusive way. Start small, and together, you can work towards creating a safe and organized environment.

Create a Support System

Building a support network is vital for your loved one's recovery. Encourage them to connect with support groups or organizations specialising in hoarding disorder. Sharing experiences with others who understand can be incredibly comforting.

Set Clear Boundaries

While offering support it's important to establish boundaries. Clearly communicate what you are willing and able to do in order to assist while also expressing your limitations. Prioritsing your well-being is essential.

Be Patient and Persistent

Recovery from hoarding disorder is a gradual process. Your loved one may experience setbacks, but it's essential to remain patient and persistent in your support. Celebrate small victories and encourage them to keep moving forward.

Maintain Channels of Communication

Throughout the journey of recovery keep communication lines open. Encourage your loved one to express their feelings and concerns. Being a listener can make an impact.

Address Safety Issues as the priority

If your loved one's living conditions pose safety risks such as fire hazards or health concerns , consider reaching out for assistance from authorities or social services. Ensuring safety should always be prioritised.

Respecting Their Independence

It's important to keep in mind that your loved one ultimately has the right to make decisions regarding their belongings and their recovery. Even if you don't agree with their choices, it's crucial to respect their autonomy.


In Conclusion

Supporting a loved one who is dealing with a hoarding disorder can be an emotionally challenging journey. However, by being patient, understanding, and providing assistance you can have an impact, on improving their life. Remember that healing takes time and progress happens gradually; your unwavering support can serve as a source of hope along their path, towards recovery.


This post contains Amazon Affiliate links, from which we may earn a commission following a qualifying purchase.


Recommended reading:

Want to understand about people who hoard? We recommend this book for anyone trying to help a loved one who hoards; hear personal stories about this debilitating mental health condition.

Find on Amazon HERE

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Clearout NI

Therapeutic Decluttering and De-hoarding services (Northern Ireland)

Tel: 02895 555 600


Clearout NI is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a way for websites to earn advertising revenues by advertising and linking to Amazon websites. If you use these links to buy something we may earn a commission through qualifying purchases . Links are not recommendations unless stated.

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