How to Help Your Loved One who has Hoarding Disorder? Part 2

What do you do when your loved one is not motivated to make changes to make their place safer and healthier? What will motivate them to want to make change? How can you help your loved one who has hoarding disorder?

Here are some tips that I hope will help…..

Don’t Argue with your Loved One:  Honestly, arguing is really not going to get you anywhere and it could actually be helping your loved one to make an argument for not changing.  Also, it will just cause distrust and your loved one will probably dig their heels in and not allow you to even attempt to help anymore.  Try to be aware of your language and work hard at not arguing, threatening, minimizing, judging, etc.

Respect Autonomy:  As hard as this can be we need to remember that your loved one is an adult and needs to be able to make his or her decisions and to have control over their own lives.  You are not always going to agree with how they choose to live their life or with their behaviour.  They might have very limited insight and motivation which makes it very difficult to help.  The best thing you can do is let them know that you are concerned for their health and welfare.  Harm reduction is a best practice.  Check out this post on Harm Reduction https://spaceforyou.ca/2016/07/29/how-to-practice-harm-reduction-in-hoarding/

Of course, if your loved one lives with you, you have every right to set limits and to expect that your wishes be respected.  Otherwise there could be consequences to their behaviour.  You need to be able to set boundaries and to follow up with them in a kind and consistant way.  

You will be most successful if you can have a discussion with your loved one and try to have them be a part of the decision making as much as possible.  Ask them questions like:  “What do you think would be most helpful for you to work on?”,  “Where do you suggest we start today?” Or “What will make the most difference for you today?”

Focus on Values and Goals:  Talk to your loved one about their values and goals.  Be aware that these values and goals may not be the same as your own.  Ask questions???  What are your hopes and dreams? What is most important for you to focus on in your life?  What do you want for your future? 

Ask how acquiring more stuff and/or not letting go of items helps you to achieve those goals?

Set Limits and Practice Self Care:  This is challenging work for your loved one and also for you.  You may need to set limits with your loved one.  For example letting them know you are willing to help for a certain amount of time per week or that you are only willing to work on a particular task. Also, because this can be such difficult work, it is very important to practice self care and make sure that you are relaxed and in a positive space in order to help your loved one to make progress and to be making change.  

Please remember that hoarding disorder is a serious mental illness and often it takes a team of people to be able to help an individual.  What do you think?  Do you have any tips that would help you if you were in this situation?  Please add your comments below.  Thanks for following along.

About Kimberley

I am a Case Manager at My Sisters' Place which is a program of the Canadian Mental Health Association London Middlesex. My Sisters' Place is a program for vulnerable women. I love my job and all the wonderful women I work with. I am very honored to do this work with women who have been through so much and are so open in sharing their stories. I initiated and designed a Clearing Clutter Support Group which I have been facilitating since 2007 with a co-worker. I love running this group and learn so much from the participants. We offer this eight week program three or four times a year. I started my business Space For You in 2010 and work with individuals in their homes as well as offer some workshops in the community. I am available to speak to groups on "De-Cluttering Your Life", "The Magic of De-Cluttering", "Space Clearing" or really anything to do with clutter and hoarding.
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6 Responses to How to Help Your Loved One who has Hoarding Disorder? Part 2

  1. These are excellent suggestions for a very difficult and emotional topic. The autonomy and self-care pieces resonated with me most. It’s easy to want to “fix” someone, but understanding that we are not in charge of anyone is important. And knowing what boundaries we need to set for ourselves to be able to be helpful and not consumed is also essential. Great post!

  2. I agree, Kimberely. As loved ones, we can’t force our loved ones to get rid of their stuff. We can only approach them and say I support you. When you are ready, we can do this together.

    • Kimberley says:

      Thank you Sabrina. I am sure when this is a very serious situation it is very difficult and so hard to sit back and be patient. We know that it will have the best outcome though.

  3. Helen says:

    I think not really knowing it is a serious mental illness is key because well for me I never really knew it was. I have seen apts being a former building manager but did not realize there was help in the community. Property management usually wanted them out. I am grateful for your work. You educate and inform and well once we know we cannot un know.

    • Kimberley says:

      Thanks for your comment Helen and thank you for that great complement. I love being able to help others with this issue.

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