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Top Considerations When Helping Someone With A Hoarding Problem



A few television shows that focus on hoarding has opened the public’s eye about this problem. It is a sensitive issue, and hoarders do not just collect everything just for the sake of it. There are many underlying reasons why people are driven to hide away stuff, and most people might not even understand why. If you know someone who has an uncontrollable desire to hoard, you cannot just ask him to stop his habit. If you want to help him, then you should know that this is going to be a slow process. Oftentimes, you will be met with psychological barriers from the hoarder himself, which will make you want to stop. But you have to be constant yet gentle, and you can also ask for help from professionals.

Types of Hoarding

The International OCD Foundation names three types of hoarding problems, and these are – OCD-based Hoarding, Hoarding in Older Adulthood, and Animal Hoarding. Help will depend on what kind of hoarding problem an individual has.

Diagnosing the Problem

Diagnosing this problem can be difficult because hoarders are usually reclusive. Some have symptoms that go unnoticed, while others do not believe that they have a problem, and this is why they don’t seek treatment. But still, help is available to those who need it.


– Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy

One popular treatment is cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). Here, a doctor assists a hoarder to better understand the root of his problem. Once the patient is able to identify the cause, he is taught or encouraged to change his behavior or reaction to the negative stimulus.

– Medications

In addition to CBT, medication may also be prescribed for patients in order to achieve better and faster results. Hoarders are often treated with antidepressants and SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors).

– Intervention

Intervention is often required in animal hoarding. This may require the assistance of a veterinarian and the local department of health. Some animal hoarders who are classified as “exploiter hoarders” are said to feel no empathy, and they lack guilt and remorse. Because of their personal characteristics, a more aggressive approach may be required. In such cases, the assistance of law enforcement may be required.

Other Sensitive Solutions

Helping a hoarder will require you to take a non-judgmental, slow yet firm approach. Below are other tips when helping someone to stop his hoarding habits.

1. Encourage the hoarder to learn more about the problem. Hoarding is definitely a problem because it has a detrimental effect not only on lifestyle but also on health and safety. A hoarder becomes more reclusive and anti-social because he doesn’t want people to come into his home and see that every corner is filled with clutter to the point that rooms can no longer be used. Hoarders also collect trash, which is a health issue. Because of too much clutter, a hoarder’s home becomes very attractive to vermin and other pests too. Help a hoarder realize this and explain to him how his problem is affecting his quality of life, as well as his relationships.

2. Provide storage options. Help a hoarder in de-cluttering his space, which is easier said than done. But once this milestone is achieved, be sure to provide the hoarder with storage areas or containers that he can use to keep his most memorable pieces. Every item must also have its own place, and for this, additional shelves, cupboards, and an assortment of containers are needed. For bigger items that he wants to keep for his children or grandchildren, a good option is for him to rent a storage unit where he can place larger pieces, such as furniture, wardrobes, tables, or chairs.

3. Help him in maintaining a clutter-free home. This involves helping the hoarder in making immediate decisions about what to throw out and what to keep, especially once a noticeable pile of items begins to appear in one corner of his home. Encourage him to stop bringing things inside his house that are not very useful or important. Blocking things from entering the home is a great way to reduce clutter. Things that have not been used for about a year should also be disposed of.