If you’ve ever come into the home of a true hoarder, then you know it oftentimes tends to be a grim sight. The biggest and most important thing to remember when trying to help a hoarder break free is that they have to do it at their own pace. This is not your journey, it’s the individual struggling with the compulsion to collect things. If you or your friend/family member are ready to begin unloading all the years of baggage, then here are a few tips to help get you on track.
You have to establish some sense of trust with a person suffering from a hoarding obsession before you ever attempt to correct any behaviors. You wouldn’t want someone you hardly know coming into your home and rummaging through your things, all the while telling you that you need to throw half of it into the trash. You have to put yourself in their place. This is not your home. These are not your things. Handle them with care, just as you should handle a person with this compulsion. Approach the situation with care and caution. Don’t present yourself as an attacker of the behavior, but more understanding. Hoarding is a coping mechanism.
Help with Practical Support Options
The best thing you can do is to educate yourself on the matter of OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder). You should be practical and realistic in your support methods. Help your friend/family member seek out a professional that is well versed in the matter of hoarding. Actually seeking out help can be the hardest step for someone with this disorder. Make sure your friend/family member knows that you think of them often by doing small and helpful things for them whenever you have the opportunity.
Implement the OHIO Rule when Cleaning
It’s very helpful to clearly lay out the boundaries of the OHIO rule before you and your friend/family member begin trying to clean up anything. The OHIO rule stands for Only Handle It Once. This means that once you pick something up, you must decide then whether to keep it or toss it out. This helps to cut down on decision making time, and apply a small amount of pressure for the person. If the job is clearly over your head, then you might want to employ the help of some professional clean up crew members.
Exercise thorough Patience with Hoarders
If you’ve done your research, then you should understand that anxiety disorders and compulsive disorders are very complex psychologically, and not easily conquered. You have to be patient. Trying to take over someone’s life by calling the authorities or making threats will only exacerbate the situation. Threats will only increase anxiety levels, and worsen the situation.