Hey Collectors! When we work with clients, many times we also work with their families, whether it is a spouse, child or parent. When someone you love hoards, it can be incredibly frustrating. You love the person but you also might be going a bit insane trying to help them clear their clutter.

It doesn’t have to be a family member; it could be someone you are dating, a friend or a neighbor. You are most likely concerned about their safety and what you can do to help them. I know you are coming from a place of concern and you want them to be healthy and happy.

home of a hoarder

Here are five tips to on how you can help someone you love that is a hoarder:

  1. Be non-judgmental. Instead of verbally attacking or ridiculing the person, try and understand what they are going through. Are they battling depression? Physically incapable? Try and understand why they are having a hard time.

  2. Suggest therapy. A lot of the reasons why people hoard and hang onto things are because they have been through something traumatic. When they are able to release the trauma and emotions, it will be easier to let the physical clutter go.

  3. Hire a professional organizer. By hiring a professional organizer, you have a non-objective party. Your loved one feels like they have a fair chance to explain their side and express their concerns.

  4. Offer to help. If your friend is disabled or elderly, perhaps they need help picking up garbage and taking out the trash or help with laundry. Try and find some simple tasks that you can do to help on a regular basis.

  5. Listen. Perhaps you are only hearing a defensive response to your judgmental calm. By listening to why this person feels the way they do and why they are in the place they are, will help you better serve them. A lot of times we plan what to say next, or talk over someone because we are frustrated. Try and listen.

Rachel Seavey Owner of Collector Care Professional Organizers

I also wanted to include five things NOT to do to your hoarder. If you do any of these things, most likely they will continue to hoard, and possibly shut you out of their life.

  1. Judge. You might think your friend is gross, out of their mind, etc. You don’t have to share that because it isn’t helpful. They are already going through a hard time. Tough love does not help a hoarder.

  2. Arranging a clean up while they are away. Unfortunately, I hear this story all of the time. This only makes the person resentful, angry and more likely to hoard more to replace what you tossed and maybe a bit for spite. A client shared that being cleaned out while she was in the hospital was one of the worst things she ever felt. She compared it to being raped in college and felt absolutely violated.

  3. Throwing away stuff when they aren’t looking. Sure, it’s tempting, but it doesn’t stop their behavior and doesn’t really help. If and when they catch you, you might not be allowed back in.

  4. Call a professional organizer or clean up on their behalf. I know you would like to tell me to go on over to your mother’s house and clean it. I do virtual coaching and advising, but will not, and hopefully no other trained professional will, work with someone who hasn’t personally invited me over. You have to get your loved one on the same page and can’t just arrange help for them. If you do, it makes it awkward for everyone involved.

  5. Call the police. Unless your family or friend is in immediate harm or danger, always allow them to clean out before enforcement is involved. A lot of the times they will be bombarded with fees and fines, and you could force them into bankruptcy.

Is someone you love a hoarder? Have you tried to help but haven’t been able to make any progress? Would you like to know how you could help them once their clutter has been removed? Collector Care can help you work together as a team and reduce your stress.

Call Collector Care at 925.548.7750 or email rachel@collectorcare.com to schedule your free 30-minute consultation and learn about how we can help you!

Photo credit: http://www.slate.com/blogs/behold/2013/12/30/paula_salischiker_photographs_hoarders_in_britain_in_her_series_the_art.html