Hoarding is a difficult situation to deal with, and many people don't know where to even start the conversation. It can be very emotional, and difficult to help someone realize that they may need help with this specific issue. For people living with a hoarder, their habits can have a very negative impact on their quality of life. Hoarding can turn a home into a stressful environment, where the clutter takes away from the enjoyment of the environment.
The International OCD Foundation labels hoarding as a disorder defined by overly-excessive accumulation or possessions with an inability to dispose of things. Many experts say that the reason for not being able to get rid of items can be because the items are emotionally significant to the individual. The other reason is that the individual justifies that they will need the item at a later date, and keeps it for its potential utility. Having these items readily available may give the person a sense of safety, and the thought of having to get rid of something can be incredibly stressful and distressing to the individual with the disorder.
Like other mental illnesses, hoarding can range anywhere from mild to severe. It is estimated that over five million Americans suffer from hoarding disorders. These behaviors can start at a very early age. In certain cases, individuals lined their hoarding behaviors as ways that helped them with social interaction when they were young.
For example, a kid who had many toys or video games might become popular with his friends for providing entertainment. However, he might become reliant on the behavior instead of building social aptitudes, which can result in more accumulation of items, with a reluctance to dispose of any. Additionally, having and collecting these items can create feelings of comfort ans easement within the individual.
Tips for Helping Someone With a Hoarding Disorder
When it comes to helping an individual with a hoarding disorder, the most important thing is to help them realize that it isn't the items that people are attracted to, it isn't the items that are important, it's the individual that is important. Items don't define someone, it's their personality and how they treat others.
It is crucial for family members to provide support and love when trying to rescue someone from a hoarding situation. Additionally, it is better to use the term finder, or keeper, when discussing about the individual, as the moniker "hoarder" typically has a negative connotation to it. It is also a good idea to encourage the individual to attend workshops on how to better their habits and organizational skills.
When it comes to helping clear out the clutter, understand that it typically won't be done overnight. Depending on the level of hoarding, it can take time and planning to properly dispose of the excess items. As mentioned earlier, it can be a very emotional endeavor. It is crucial to approach the issue from a perspective of no judgement.
Additionally, you'll want the individual who you are helping to trust you to help them properly dispose of their things. This does not mean to just start throwing things away. It is important to have an open dialogue about which items are truly important to them, and which are less so. Opening this dialogue can help you to better understand their connection with the object. You showing that you respect their connection, and the importance of the object to them, will create a level of trust, allowing you to better help them get rid of items that don't hold as much weight.
It is important to start small when disposing of items. Sorting by categories can help eliminate things one pile at a time. If the person you are trying to help is unsure about certain items, it is possible to have a family member or neighbor hold onto these for a few weeks instead of throwing them away.
Post hoarding behavior is important to keep up. Encourage the individual to stay organized and to focus on habits that will help prevent further collection of things. A great idea to help those recovering from a hoarding addiction is to take them on "non-shopping" trips. This means having an activity planned for the day and on the way driving be a shopping center, but not going inside. This will help them normalize not purchasing items, and be able to be around establishments that sell goods without being tempted to go in.
For more information on hoarding, or to help schedule a professional hoarding cleanup for a loved one, give us a call at 888-471-6653, or visit our website at cleanearthrestorations.com.
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