How to Deal with a Family Member who Hoards

Hoarding is a serious mental health disorder that has devastating effects for sufferers and their loved ones. An inability to dispose of possessions, coupled with a fervour for acquiring new items, often leads hoarders to live beyond their financial means and in filthy and unsafe conditions. Family and friends experience confusion, anger, disbelief, pain and helplessness as the disorder takes over, transforming the person they once knew. While a complete cure may not be in reach, there are strategies that will help you deal with the situation more effectively. There was a great episode of family hoarding on Keeping Up With The Kardashians  in their latest season.
Read on for more information.

Don’t Judge
Upon entering your relative’s home, your first instinct will probably be to exclaim in disgust and disbelief at the sight before you. Resist the temptation to bombard the affected individual with negative sentiments regarding their mountains of belongings; it will only result in a defensive and aggressive response, and will certainly alienate you from them.

Avoid Arguments
Along with passing judgement, getting into heated arguments is one of the worst things you can do when dealing with a hoarder. Firstly, you will never win. Secondly, you will further estrange yourself from the hoarder, effectively destroying any chance of trying to help them in the future.

Be Empathetic
Instead of negative confrontations, interact with your family member in an empathetic manner. Structure sentences in a way that shows that you care and that you want to help, without being overbearing or intrusive. Ask questions that will make the hoarder think about the reasons for their behaviour, as well as provide vital insight for you. This affirmative approach is bound to have better results.

Learn More
The best way to convey genuine empathy is to actually understand the disorder. Online articles, blogs and videos, along with books, television shows and documentaries, have all covered the subject of hoarding, including the treatment process. By knowing what you are dealing with, you will be able to exercise more patience and recognise the signs for what they are.

Hoarding is not a behaviour that can be magically changed overnight. Instead, work on achieving small goals and always be willing to compromise. Start with the aim of removing one item per day, whether into the rubbish bin or into a storage facility. There are many affordable storage providers available; for more details click here. The key is to be perceived as operating as a team, and that involves plenty of negotiation.

Seek Professional Help
If you fear that your family member is living in increasingly dangerous conditions, it may be time to seek the assistance of a qualified professional. Treatment for hoarding is a long-term process and it is extremely easy for hoarders to suffer relapses; however, with the right support and management, hoarders can make real, positive changes to their lives.

Are you currently affected by hoarding? Do you have a story or experience to share? Comment in the box below to pass on any tips, advice or anecdotes.


Lotte xo

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  1. It seems to be on Tv and mentioned a lot more than it used to such programmes like ‘the hoarder next door’. I do find it so interesting, but I personally never cling onto anything too long, my rule of thumb is if it hasn’t been used in the last year and it’s not sentimental then bye bye it goes.

  2. Interesting post – I watched the programme on hoarders on Channel 4 a while back, you really underestimate just how much of a problem it can be!

  3. Thanks this is really helpfull. It may ease some tension.

  4. I’m I’m glad to say no hoarders in my family x

  5. ive a brother that’s a hoarder .he wont throw anything away. He has four hoovers but only one works. I dread going to his home because the clutter drives me mad and I have trouble understanding why he just cant put things in the bin or giving the stuff he does not need to charity. I find myself losing my patience but reading the article im starting to understand him a little more and im going to try some of thing you’ve suggested .Wish me luck

  6. I am not a hoarder, in fact I hardly keep anything but, I do see the perspective of those who do feel the need to keep everything and hoard.
    I liked this blog post, it isn’t just about hoarding but mainly about not judging, handstand ing and showing empathy which we should all do more in our everyday life. X

  7. I couldn’t imagine having this

  8. Interesting!

  9. smart points. I agree on them

  10. I hope this post helps people help family member who are suffering. I saw a program about this on TV and it is so upsetting. Good tips.