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How to Help a Hoarder – The Do’s and Don’ts

Hoarding disorder and the behaviours associated with it are often widely dismissed or misunderstood. According to recent estimates, between 2% and 5% of Australians have hoarding disorder and problematic clutter. Unfortunately, people often treat it tactlessly and thoughtlessly.

Living with a loved one who has a hoarding disorder can be extremely frustrating. Not only will it affect the way you relate with them but you might be tempted to tackle this disorder with cleanouts. However, it’s vital to approach hoarding like any other disorder; with compassion and consideration.

Whether you’ve tried a few solutions that seem not to be working, we’ve compiled a few do’s and don’ts that will help your loved on the road to recovery.

What is Hoarding?

Hoarding disorder refers to the persistent and tenacious difficulty to discard or part with possessions because of an apparent need to save them. An individual with this disorder often feels distressed at the thought of discarding the items. It can also manifest itself with the need to excessively accumulate items irrespective of their value.

Like any other disorder, hoarding is a serious mental disorder. It can lead to dangerous living conditions and poor personal hygiene. Although the actual cause of hoarding remains unknown, experts agree it’s essential for individuals with hoarding disorder to seek professional help as soon as the symptoms are identified.


The symptoms of hoarding can vary from mild to severe. In most cases, a hoarder will save or accumulate a lot of possessions irrespective of their value. Such individuals often have extreme connection and attachment to lifeless objects. They also experience severe anxiety when it comes to making the decision whether or not to discard such objects. For this reason, they’ll pile up these objects to the point that using the space for the intended purpose becomes extremely difficult.

Understanding the psychology behind hoarding can also help you deal with hoarders. Knowing how they think and act will allow you to better present a viewpoint that can help them.

How to Help a Hoarder – Do’s

You might be wondering if there’s anything you could do to help a loved one who hoards. There are a lot of things you can do to help a hoarder deal with this disorder. They include:

  • The best thing to do is to encourage him/her to seek professional help. While you cannot force anybody to seek help against their will, the best thing to do is to encourage and help them find a therapist or any form of positive help.
  • Create some time to learn about hoarding. Whether it’s on the internet or on TV shows, look for appropriate information on hoarding and have an idea about the disorder and how to deal with it.
  • Listen to them. Keep in mind that hoarding is a disorder and an ailment like diabetes, mental disorder or any other health problem. It’s not something that a person just chooses to do. So your genuine support without judging them would be of great help.
  • Help them to arrange their belongings and possession if they ask for help. A hoarder may seek your help as part of the treatment process. You should always be willing to offer a helping hand.
  • In the same way, hoarding doesn’t happen overnight, it will be impossible to solve it overnight. It’s a process that takes time. You should, therefore, always recognise and appreciate positive changes. Praise them when they attempt to put things in order and support them to stay on the right track.

How to Help a Hoarder – Don’ts

While it might seem right to just clean up hoarder’s possession, this is not advisable. That’s because it may seem like you’re forcing the person to change. In most cases, it will backfire and it could even become worse. Some of the things to avoid include:

  • Don’t remove the hoarder’s possession without his/her consent. This doesn’t address the problem and may only lead to extreme emotional distress. If anything, it could lead to a complete relationship break down between the two of you.
  • Don’t encourage the behaviour. While removing the possessions from the hoarder against their will could be detrimental, you should not help them in their hoarding. For instance, avoid buying them objects that may only add to the problem.
  • Avoid cleaning up after them as it could hinder them from addressing deeper issues that led to hoarding in the first place.
  • Just like with other problems such as fighting weight, gambling, and drinking, hoarders can experience setbacks. As such, do not expect them to be perfect at all times even when they’re under therapy. Instead, be kind to them, show them love, and utmost support.

Having a loved one who is hoarder can be stressful. Fortunately, there are a lot of things you can do to offer help. The best thing to do is to encourage them to seek professional help. Remember, dealing or treating hoarding is a slow process that can take a long time. Do not, therefore, expect them to change immediately. Be patient with them as they deal with this issue.

Fortunately, Paul’s Rubbish Removal is here to help you get started at a suitable pace. We provide step by step solution that can transform a hoarder’s life. Our complete junk clean up will help start fresh. Simply call 0407 125 125 to get your free quote today!

Sarah Ann

Sarah Ann

Sarah Ann is a Digital Content Writer for Paul's Rubbish Removal. Sarah is a huge advocate for recycling, environmental sustainability, health and well-being and has a genuine love for all sea animals. Keep up with Sarah by following Paul's Rubbish Removal blog!

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