Don’t lose Hope! Help Is Available For Hoarders!
Hoarding is a disorder that is classified as having persistent difficulty in getting rid of their possessions due to a perceived need to save the items. It’s seen in all walks of life, of all income levels and countries. It’s been around since people have had items and places to store them, and it isn’t going anywhere. The reasons for why someone hoards in the first place is beyond the scope of this article, however, it’s important to know that help is available.
When it comes to helping a hoarder, it’s tempting to just go over to their home and start throwing away their things. Maybe you’re tired of walking along the small pathways that connect room to room or you want to get rid of what you see as ‘junk’ because it’s unsanitary and unhealthy. The problem with that is, it’s never going to work. Hoarders act out because of emotional reasons, not because they just haven’t gotten around to throwing the stuff out.
Key Fact: The reason(s) for why a hoarder feels they need just about everything in their home are valid.
After working with many hoarders and families of hoarders while removing their “junk,” American River Hauling and Junk Removal Co. recognizes that the most important step that we can do when wanting to help a loved one, is to get educated. Without proper education, you may be tempted to skip steps, or to not realize just how important a little step in the right direction might be. Empathy is key when we’re working with emotional attachments, and we need to always prioritize the person and not the stuff. Remember, we’re working with people that we love. It’s important to continue coming from that place.
How to Help Someone Who Hoards
- Get educated on Hoarding
- Prioritize the person, not the stuff
- Practice empathy
- Set reasonable expectations
- Positive change may not look like what you think it does
- Volunteer to help them
- Gently suggest professional help
- If they’re open to getting rid of their things, consider hiring a junk removal company
Get Educated on Hoarding
As I stated earlier, the most important step in this process is getting correct education. Listen to the experts. Below are a few links to sites that I’ve found helpful on the subject.
Prioritize the Person, Not the Stuff
It’s easy to fall into the trap of prioritizing the stuff over the person. While hoarding is an emotional condition, it also has a tendency in evoking our own emotional outbursts or priority shifts. We may be tempted to yell when someone decides that they don’t want to get rid of something after all, or to shame them for being ‘messy’ or ‘disgusting.’ Don’t fall into these traps. At the end of the day, we all know that we care about the person. That’s why we’re wanting to help in the first place. It’s not like our goal is liberating the person from these things, but the other way around. Don’t lose sight of that.
When we practice empathy, we show the other person that we’re on their side. Offering help for hoarders in this manner is huge when it comes to being allowed into someone’s not only outer, but inner life. It’s how you build trust, by showing your empathy. If you don’t have trust with a hoarder that you’re looking to help, then they will never be able to trust that you’re only going to do what you say you’re going to do. For example, if you come to an agreement that you’re only going to clear out one room, if the person doesn’t trust you, they may not let you do that because you may wind up doing more than they’re comfortable with. Also, when you have trust, it shows that you care about them. For example, if you are clearing out their house and come across an item that is worth keeping, they want to be able to trust you to do so and not just throw it out.
Set Reasonable Expectations
A win doesn’t always mean an emptied house at the end of the day. The process of going from a full house to a clean house is full of many steps, and each step takes time to process through. From my experience, the following are all considered wins and should be celebrated.
- Going from being content, to recognizing that there may be a problem.
- Going from being closed to addressing the problem, to being open to the possibility of addressing the problem.
- Being open to start with a small part of the house to clean.
- Being open to get professional help at some time in the future.
- Being open to go to therapy.
Positive Change May Not Look Like What You Think It Does
As stated above, positive change doesn’t always look like an open house at the end of the day. Help for Hoarders can sometimes simply mean that you’ve started a conversation with the person about their condition. It’s not just a one day thing in most situations, where you find out someone is a hoarder, then you call a junk removal company and they go ahead and take care of it all. While we are an important step in the process, we are most definitely the last step. The journey to a clean home includes so many positive changes than the final result.
Volunteer to Help Them
At the end of the day, we’re meant to be in community together. Recognizing that there are many things in life that we can’t do ourselves, we can extend that empathy to others and recognize that there are often different things in life that others aren’t able to do. In this case, it’s getting rid of the items in their home.
When we come from a place of empathy and compassion, it gives us motivation and energy to be able to help a hoarder. Of course, we must first always ask for permission to do so. From there, you can begin to navigate what steps to take further.
Gently suggest professional help
We always advise getting the help of a professional. Hoarding is a condition that requires the help of a therapist if you really want to get down to the core reasons for why they do what they do. And to put it frankly, you’re most likely not an expert. Just because you may be a good listener, or a compassionate person with the desire to help, doesn’t mean that you’ve studied and have equipped yourself with the proper tools to go ahead and walk through this journey with hoarders. You can walk alongside them, under the guidance of a professional therapist, but that role shouldn’t be your job. You may do much more harm then intended, hurting the relationship between the both of you in the process.
Help for Hoarders doesn’t always mean you have to do all the work. If they’re open to getting rid of their things, consider hiring a junk removal company
Congratulations! You’ve made it through the tears and the emotional journey to finally get to the phase where you’re able to let go of many of the items in you or a loved ones house. It hasn’t been easy, I’m sure, and neither will be the last step.
When it comes to a typical hoarders house, we’ve found it common to have 6 – 10 full truck loads. With a dump trailer that is 12 ft long, that’s a lot of trips to the dump! That’s why we always hire extra help for jobs like this, so it doesn’t have to take so long. We know it’s an emotional process and we don’t want it to drag out. That can be painful.
A trained junk removal company will be able to clear a hoarder house in a day or two if they have a large enough team helping. We always recommend going with a licensed and insured company so that any accident that may happen onsite doesn’t leave you with an even larger bill. American River Hauling and Junk Removal Co. offers peace of mind so you don’t have to worry.