Knowing how to help a hoarder in denial can be tricky. The process of hoarding and collecting items often begins gradually and it can be a while before anyone even notices a problem arising. Many people in this situation can refuse to acknowledge their circumstances even when confronted. So, how can you start helping a hoarder who doesn’t want help? In this article, we reveal how to tell a hoarder they have a problem, as well as 12 expert tips on how to help a hoarder who doesn’t want help.
Actions to Take to Help a Hoarder Who Doesn’t Want Help
Do you know how to confront a hoarder? Hoarding manifests itself when problems arise throwing items away. A person may also have lots of junk within their home, blocking living spaces, doors and other areas. As a hoarder may not want to admit to their behaviour, here are some effective actions to take to help people with hoarding disorder.
1. Avoid Force
People who hoard can often be dealing with anxiety or depression and the thought of having to get rid of their clutter can be distressing. Friends and family members confronting the hoarder should avoid forcing them into discarding their possessions. It’s important to realise that there may be a reason behind this hoarding behaviour which may be difficult for them to express. Hoarding can cause people to become socially isolated due to a lack of external understanding. So, before you confront them, ensure that you are calm and are ready to listen to their explanations.
2. Create A Discussion
Avoid becoming argumentative during your confrontation. Encourage the person with the problem to open up to you. Reassure them that you’re there to listen and not be judgemental. People struggling with hoarding may be in strong denial so be patient and allow them to have their say, whatever that may be.
3. Show Your Love
It can be easy for someone to interpret a confrontation as a personal attack. To avoid this, let the person know that you care about them deeply and are there to help. Even if they deny having an issue, continue to show your love and support.
4. Ask Them to Seek Professional Help
Hoarding can be associated with mental illness so you may need to seek help from a health professional. If the hoarder is suffering from mental health problems, they may have extreme difficulties discarding their personal items. A trained professional understands how to deal with this behaviour and can implement effective strategies to help them, such as cognitive behavioural therapy or support groups. In the first instance, ask a doctor for their suggestions.
5. Ask Them Questions
Instead of telling a person what the issue with their behaviour is, simply ask them questions. This can help them to assess how they are behaving and how it’s affecting them. Some questions you can put forward include ‘how are you currently feeling about your home?’, ‘do you think the clutter in your home affects others?’, ‘would you enjoy using your living space again?’
6. Don’t Clean Their Home
While it can be extremely tempting to begin cleaning their home, avoid doing so unless you have their permission. Hoarders tend to value all of their items, including those which may seem like junk. In most cases, throwing their things away without consulting them first can provoke feelings of betrayal and anger.
7. Educate Yourself
Hoarding may be associated with many issues, such as depression, anxiety, psychotic disorders and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Therefore, try and educate yourself as much as possible before you speak to your friend or loved one. For cases of potential OCD, the International OCD Foundation has valuable resources which can assist you, while the NHS has many resources on other mental health conditions.
8. Ensure the Person Wants to Make a Change
9 Volunteer to Help
Volunteering your help is a great way to start tackling the problem if your friend or loved one wants to make a change. Make sure they get involved if you start tackling a clean-up. Additionally, you can offer to drive them to therapy sessions, create positive wellness habits, such as exercising and eating healthily, as well as offering to clear any new clutter that builds up.
Avoid Enabling Hoarding Behaviour
It’s impossible to control how another person behaves but your actions can help to encourage them to break free from their hoarding. Contemplate how your behaviour could have an impact on them. For instance, avoid going shopping with them, don’t offer storage space for their items and don’t give them any gifts that could contribute to hoarding.
Continue to Offer Empathy
It can be difficult to continue to support someone with hoarding tendencies. However, try to continue to offer empathy during their steps to getting better. Someone recovering from hoarding may have times when they start to hoard again. Recognising this behaviour and continuing to show your support will help them on their journey to recovery.