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Helping Hoarders: How to Get their Space in Order

April 22, 2023

We all probably know someone who has way too much stuff.  It’s easy for junk to pile up and take over our homes.  Most of us eventually clean it up, but some people have a very difficult time with this task.  This condition is called hoarding. Helping hoarders is important and we have some tips.

Definition of Hoarding

Hoarding disorder occurs when a person hangs on to a bunch of items and just can’t get rid of them.  Doing so causes them significant distress. Hoarding can lead to dangerous clutter and unsafe living conditions. It can also interfere with a person’s quality of life.  Up to 6% of people in the U.S. have hoarding disorder.

Common Hoarded Items

Things that hoarders tend to keep include newspapers, magazines, household goods and clothing.  Animals can add up too, which are often not properly cared for.  Hoarders often pile up items that have little or no monetary value.  The reason is they are convinced they might need the items in the future.

Hoarding Versus Clutter

If you realize you have clutter, that’s a good sign.  You just need to motivate yourself to organize it and throw out stuff you don’t need. Hoarding occurs when people become obsessed with holding onto items and can’t get a handle on clutter.  The first step is to admit to yourself you need help.

Help for Hoarders

Here are some key tips to help you cope with the disorder.

Start slowly.  Take small steps forward when dealing with hoarding.  Slow and steady wins the race.

Seek Therapy.  A professional can help you cope with difficult feelings that surface as you start the clean up process.  Hoarders often have physical and emotional baggage that needs addressing.

Find a Support Group. Join a community of others who are in the same boat.  You will feel less isolated.

How to Assist Hoarders

If you are helping someone clear out their hoarded clutter, there are a few things to keep in mind.

Respect their decisions.  Hoarders are often emotionally attached to their items.  Stuff that may not matter to us, can be extremely important to them.  Don’t take charge. If you take over their space, they might not let you help.  Be patient.  It can take a long time for hoarders to part with items.  Celebrate successes.  Offer encouragement when they finish cleaning up a small area.

How to Overcome Hoarding

Although it can take a long time, you can overcome hoarding.  Here are some ways you can help kick it to the curb.

No use for it.  If you have no use for an object, get rid of it. The question is not whether you can use an object, but if you’re going to actually use it.

Keep only one copy. There’s no need to hang on to extra bicycles or microwaves, for instance.  Just keep one of them and part with the extras.

Make a few piles.  Put aside one pile for items you want to keep, a second one for donations, and a third for things to throw away.  Then, take action.

Don’t overthink it. Once you decide the fate of an item, don’t look back.   You will never free yourself of clutter if the decision-making process is too long or complicated.

Be strong.  Be willing to face your fears and understand which are irrational.  Also, be patient.  Noone overcomes a hoarding problem overnight.

Let Us Clean Up the Mess

When a disaster strikes,  Flood Department is here to help. We provide water damage repair, clean-up services, including compassion cleaning, and more for homeowners and businesses. We cover Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, and Washington, D.C.  We are dedicated to helping reverse the damage done by water, mold, sewage, smoke and fire.  Contact us at 301-829-2600 or visit us online.



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