Supporting a loved one with Hoarding Tendencies can be a confusing and emotional time. Perhaps you (just as many others) do not understand much about Hoarding. Perhaps you have only just discovered this is your loved ones reality, or maybe you have been trying to help a loved one for years with no success...
.. whatever your situation, I want to congratulate you for your desire to help your loved one. You are here, you are being proactive and reading this post alone means you are making progress. Below I have shared my top tips to help you overcome any potential problems you may encounter while trying to get your loved one to seek the support they need.
1. Be mindful about the language you use around them. Whatever you do, do not refer to their items as 'rubbish', 'crap', or 'stuff', this will translate to them that you do not understand their genuine attachment to their possessions and may cause them to feel even more ashamed and isolated than they already do.
2. Don't try to convince them that they just need a 'big clean up' or a 'blitz'... While this may work with the occasional person with Hoarding Tendencies, for the majority - it does not. In fact, I am yet to meet a person in this situation who has even agreed to this approach. And I would never offer it in the first place! Here's why: the fast removal of their treasured items can cause their mental health to deteriorate rapidly, even causing them to become so distressed that they become suicidal. Little and often is key. And the emotional support is just as important as the practical work. Support for Hoarding really should be a Holistic approach, with more than one Professional involved (ideally).
3. Encourage them to seek Professional support. If your loved one has not already, gently encourage them to see their GP. Use language like "it's very brave to seek help" and be optimistic. If you can, find a story about somebody who sought help for a similar health challenge and is much better today because of it, then share this with them. True stories are great evidence of the results that they could have and can inspire them to think of life beyond their current reality. Whatever you do - keep it light and do not push them further than they are willing to go. Little and often is key. Let them know that you are there and offer to go with them if you can.
4. Don't turn up at their home unexpectedly, or pressure them to let you in. Hoarding is a very complex reality and because their items are a manifestation of their mental health challenges, it is only natural for a person who is Hoarding to feel very vulnerable when inviting somebody into their home. After all, you may be able to hide it if you are feeling a little down, but their mental state is visible to the eye because of their Hoarding. Try to understand how invasive that would feel if it were you. Be kind and be patient. If you can, offer them a break instead by offering them round your home for dinner, or to meet out somewhere for a meal and a walk. Always let them know you are there for them.
5. Seek out a Professional Organiser with experience in Hoarding and/or Mental Health.
Professional Organisers such as myself offer a more Holistic & empathetic approach to organising. It is absolutely crucial to get the right fit for your loved one, so contact a few if you can. Most of us offer Free consultations and are happy and willing to help.
6. Don't buy them items. If you want to buy them a gift, think carefully and buy them an experience instead. Why not accompany them to the theatre? Or a concert? A trip out to lunch at their favourite restaurant, or even encourage them to try a new activity. New experiences may seem daunting to them, but done little and often, this can help them to build confidence and trust in the unknown; which is an important skill when one is trying to start over.
7. Celebrate all the small wins on the way to your loved ones recovery. Healing is a journey, not a destination, so consistent support and positive feedback will help them to remain on track. Let them know how proud you are of them, how brave they are for seeking help and how strong it is to be open and vulnerable about how they feel. If you keep telling them these wonderful affirmations enough, eventually, they will start to believe you.
If you are seeking a Professional Organiser with experience in Mental Health & Hoarding, then, my friend - you've come to the right place. Book your discovery call with me today here.
For your free printable of things you can declutter, or help your loved one declutter today, click here.
Until then, I am sending all the love and healing vibes to you and your loved one.