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January 2, 2022

How to Help a Hoarder with Decluttering

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How to Help a Hoarder with Decluttering

Are you married to a hoarder? Maybe your parents are hoarders or your adult child has become a hoarder. When you want to help a hoarder with decluttering, you might be dealing with a big job and a big issue.

Is Hoarding a Disorder?

Yes, hoarding can become a disorder and it’s clinically recognized by the Mayo Clinic. They define hoarding disorder as “Hoarding disorder is a persistent difficulty discarding or parting with possessions because of a perceived need to save them. A person with a hoarding disorder experiences distress at the thought of getting rid of the items. Excessive accumulation of items, regardless of actual value, occurs.” The Mayo Clinic goes on to talk about how hoarding can cause such a cramped space for living that there are literally things everywhere with only a narrow area to walk through. It can be mild or very severe and may or may not have a large impact on your life or the life of someone you love. When you want to help a hoarder with decluttering, you should be aware of the type of task you’re taking on. Not only will it be time-consuming and you will likely have to help them toss out a ton of things, but it can also be incredibly emotional and difficult to deal with.

7 Tips for Helping a Hoarder with Decluttering

1. Practice Patience

Before you decide to step in the ring and help a hoarder with decluttering, especially if they haven’t asked for help, be prepared to have patience. This can be a very difficult thing to deal with and without patience, you will likely strike out rather quickly.

2. Keep Judgement Out of It

If you’re not a hoarder, trying to help someone that is can seem crazy. They may have reasons to keep things that make no sense to you and if you come off as judgmental, you will likely lose them and they won’t accept your help. It can be a good idea to not bring up the hoarder, and instead, keep questions more general about the person’s life and the items they have collected. It’s a good time to listen first and save the judgment for something else.

3. Let Them be in Charge

If you were to just go into a hoarder’s home and get rid of everything they truly don’t need, it would cause quite a shock for them. It’s better to remain the helper and let them be in charge of restoring order in their home. When they have control and get to become the decision-maker, they are less likely to go back to hoarding again after decluttering their home. The only exception to this rule is if someone has become incapacitated and cannot understand the world around them.

4. Take it Slowly

Hoarders might struggle to let go of even the smallest, most insignificant item. They might think they could use it one day or it might be important one day. Take the decluttering process slowly to keep emotions from getting out of hand. It’s also a good idea to know when to stop. If you go too far, it could cause you to take many steps backward after making progress. Take the process of getting rid of the junk slowly and be prepared for the decluttering process to take longer with a hoarder than normal.

5. Rent a Roll-Off Dumpster

Hoarders often have massive amounts of things that can pile up quickly. It’s best to get things out of sight and out of mind once the hoarder has decided to let something go. Renting a roll-off dumpster can help you toss out bulk trash and gives you a place to put it all where it won’t be in the house any longer. Once it’s in the dumpster, it’s gone and the hoarder can work on the next few items.

6. Hire Professional Help, if Necessary

Sometimes, the burden becomes too much for us to carry. If this is the case, it’s time to get professional assistance when dealing with a hoarder. Know when it has become too much for you and call in compassionate professionals that have the skills to help.

7. Create a Strategy for the Future

Once you have helped a hoarder with decluttering, it’s time to create a strategy to keep it from happening again. This strategy should include anything that will help keep an over-accumulation of things from happing. Without a strategy for the future, most serious hoarders will end up right back in the same place within a year or two. If you’re trying to help a hoarder with decluttering, use these tips. Maybe you can help them, but don’t be afraid to call in reinforcements if the process of decluttering for a hoarder becomes too much.


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