How to Help a Hoarder Stop the Habit

Do you have a loved one who is displaying hoarding tendencies? It can be tough knowing exactly how to approach them and how to help them. They may be extremely resistant to your efforts at first, as they may view it as a threat to their safety, comfort and well-being. That’s because hoarding is a serious psychological disorder that makes it nearly impossible for them to throw anything away, even garbage.

Before you can start to help the hoarder in your life clean up, take the time to learn about the disorder and get them professional help if necessary.

Once you’ve addressed their hoarding disorder, start taking small steps to help them clean out their home. You will need a dumpster at some point to toss all the trash. For that, Big Box Disposal can help. 

How to Identify Hoarding

First, you should do some research on the topic. This serious condition often brings with it emotional, social, financial and even physical effects on the person who is suffering. Here are some signs and behaviors of a compulsive hoarder:

  • Avoids throwing away items that have no value.
  • Experiences mild to severe anxiety about throwing things away.
  • Repeatedly adds to the hoard without realizing they have a problem.
  • Rooms in their home are not able to be used for intended purposes.
  • Possessions are negatively impacting the person’s safety, hygiene or health.

Hoarding is a type of obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). Learn more at the International OCD Foundation so you can get your loved one the help they need.

Helping a Hoarder Clean and Organize

Once the underlying issue has been addressed, you can begin the purging process. You may consider hiring a professional organizer depending on the severity of the hoard. Recruit other close friends and family members to help as well, all the while keeping your loved one’s personal progress in mind.

Step 1: Talk About It

Start a conversation with your loved one, going over your plans, and emphasizing safety and confidentiality. Make sure they know how organizing their home will make them safer, and that you’re there for support rather than judgement. One piece of advice for communicating with a hoarder: meet them where they are at. Ultimately, they are the owners of all the items and thus they should be in charge of the process. Keep the end goal in mind and discuss it with them often.

Use neutral language and avoid negative words like “clutter” or “unsanitary,” which can make them become defensive. Use non-threatening language that allows for open and free communication sans blame.

Step 2: Make a Plan

Come up with an action plan in order to complete the project in a timely fashion. Here are some tips:

  1. Create a list of criteria: Help your loved one come up with a list of criteria to be used when determining if something should be tossed. This way, everyone assisting in the process can refer to the list as needed. For example, it’s OK to throw away all mail older than six months.
  2. Make a schedule: Decide which rooms you will tackle first and in which order, as well as how much time should be spent in each. Breaking it down by room is much less overwhelming than viewing it as a whole-house project.
  3. Set goals: Set concrete and tangible goals so everyone stays motivated. Perhaps you could aim to organize one room’s items, move them to a designated area of the house for storage, or clear enough space in entrances and hallways to make them more accessible and safe.

Step 3: Develop a Waste Removal Strategy

Where are you going to put all the trash? The regular rubbish bin won’t do. This is where the dumpster comes in. No matter which size you choose, this is a safe place to toss all the debris, taking your time filling the dumpster and having it removed as soon as your cleanout is done.

Step 4: Follow the Plan

Go room by room, with your pre-determined list of criteria in hand. Identify and throw away clutter, creating piles for items to keep and items to donate. Toss everything else.

Contact Big Box Disposal

To learn more about our dumpster sizes and rates, contact us at 815-205-0987.