Family & Friends

Being the family member or friend of a hoarder can be challenging. It is difficult to know the right things to say and how best to help a loved one who experiences compulsive hoarding disorder. Know that you are not alone. Here are some helpful tips.

Improve relations with the individual:

    • Good communication is essential
    • Establish trust by not touching items unless the individual allows it
    • Focus on harm reduction rather than just getting rid of clutter
    • Listen and be there for them during this time
    • Recognize any positive change that they have made, and do not point out the negatives

Education:

    • It it important to educate yourself on hoarding disorder before helping the individual
    • Understand that this is a psychological condition, and the individual is not being “lazy”
    • Read a book on hoarding disorder
    • IOCDF Hoarding Fact Sheet

Have a Conversation:

    • Do not use judgmental language
    • Try to see their point of view and imagine how they are feeling
    • Be encouraging and set achievable goals

Cleanouts?

    • Do not clear out their possessions right away, especially without their permission
    • It has been found that cleanouts rarely work in the long-term
    • They also cause further distress in the individual, and you may lose their trust

Look into a Treatment Plan:

    • Cognitive behavioral therapy, skills training, hiring a professional organizer, group therapy and support groups, or medication are options
    • There are a variety of treatment options, so you should discuss these with the individual

The resources below can help you help your family member or friend to make a positive, healthy change.

How to Talk to Someone with a Hoarding Problem

Do’s and Don’ts: When Talking to Someone with a Hoarding Problem

How to Help Someone with Hoarding

Who Needs to Be Involved

Children of Hoarders 

Safety and Health Issues Resulting from Hoarding