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. Below are some helpful tips.

How to Help

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