How to help a hoarder
Why would anyone even think about how to help a hoarder?
This weekend I helped my elderly mother move. In the process I discovered that she’s turning into a hoarder. From what I saw, many of her neighbors are borderline hoarders too. Their possessions are hurting instead of helping their quality of life. Sadly, none of them would admit that they have a problem, nor will they accept help, nor seek it.
What is a hoarder?
A hoarder is a person that collects and keeps a lot of things that appear useless or of very little value to most us. Their things cause distress or problems in their day-to-day activities and clutter their living spaces. While this is clearly the case for my mom and some of her friends, they deny that they are becoming hoarders and claim that they have simply collected a lot of things over the years.
To be fair, neither my mom nor her friends are being buried alive by their odd collections of things yet. At first glance, their apartments appear to be relatively clean and neat. However, there is a big difference between accumulating and collecting. Collectors are proud of the things they collect, keep them well organized and proudly display them. My mom and her friends just have a lot of stuff that they have accumulated in varying degrees of disarray. They are ashamed of the clutter. They attempt to hide their things in closets, drawers, under beds, behind sofas…etc. Some of these areas are so stuffed that they haven’t been opened or cleaned in years. When they need something from these areas, it seems easier to go out and buy it than to deal with the mess. Eventually, the new purchases wind up buried with the rest of their clutter. Shame keeps them from inviting people over and enjoying their own homes. A few of them even complained about the mess and the dust it collects aggravating their allergies. Yet, they refuse to get rid of their useless stuff and are more than willing to take even more.
How can you help a hoarder when they don’t want to be helped?
Frankly, I don’t know how to help my hoarder. Because of the move, I did manage to get my mother to part with a few useless items. But, it wasn’t easy and she wasn’t happy about it. If you’re dealing with similar issues here are a couple of resources that you may find helpful:
I know that we have a lot to learn. We have a lot of work ahead of us. I’m reading and learning more about hoarding and how to help loved ones deal with it. I’m also praying that with time, patience, love, and understanding, I can help my mother make better choices. Eventually, maybe, we can even help her friends with their hoarding issues too.