When hoarding gets out of control, it can be classified as a very serious mental condition that could expose people who do it to dangerous living conditions if left unmanaged. When you love someone who hoards, the initial reaction would be to help that person overcome his problem. However, you cannot force your loved one to get better instantly. Instead, it should be done gradually, and you can start by providing a supportive environment that motivated your loved one to seek help.
Don’t Enable the Behavior
Although you cannot stop a hoarder from hoarding, what you can do is refrain from enabling that behavior. For instance, if your loved one hoards antiques, then it would be a bad idea to invite her to go to thrift stores. Likewise, if your dad is a compulsive collector, then you shouldn’t be adding to her collection at every occasion. If you want to help your loved one, don’t offer some help like storing his hoarded items. On the other hand, if you’re living with that person, then don’t allow his belongings to overtake your home.
Educate Yourself to Help
To the outside observer, hoarding isn’t really a big deal at all, but it doesn’t make any sense either. If you want to help your loved one, you should try your best to be knowledgeable about this condition, and that could be done by consulting mental health professionals, reading websites, and attending support groups for those who want to help a hoarder. As you become familiar with the loneliness, fear, and anxiety the hoarders go through, you’ll have the ability to offer empathy and support for them.
Never Take Their Possessions
If your loved one’s place is covered in unused clothes or magazines, it can be quite tempting to ‘help’ him by taking the items he keeps (hoards). The truth is, this wouldn’t be helpful at all, because it would just destroy the relationship you have with that person. Also, a lot of hoarders would experience serious emotional anxiety attacks once their possessions are taken away from them. So, if your intentions are good, doing something like this should be completely avoided.
Acknowledge Small Accomplishments
For people who have been hoarders for decades, it could be difficult to get rid of their possessions and ‘cure’ themselves right away. You can encourage your loved one to stop being a hoarder by celebrating small victories, such as throwing away some of the things he doesn’t really need, or avoiding the urge of buying new ones.
Don’t Clean Up for Them
Even though helping your loved one sort his belongings, doing everything for him wouldn’t be quite helpful at all. Also, you cannot expect the person in your life to make a progress if you’d be forcing or pressuring him to get into the treatment right away. To prevent anxiety attacks, you should let the hoarder make decisions for himself, and just be ready to support him.
Help in Finding a Treatment
You don’t have to force your loved one to seek for help, but if he shows some interest, what you can do is do some research, and find a good therapist who can help.