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Five Tips for Helping a Loved One with Hoarding Disorder

Five Tips for Helping a Loved One with Hoarding Disorder

A person who suffers from Hoarding Disorder (HD) has trouble getting rid of or parting with items for fear of losing them. Even if the objects are useless or dangerous, a person affected by hoarding dreads the idea of separating from their things.


Hoarding is a mental illness that can cause immense amounts of stress and accumulation of clutter in a person's home. Symptoms include excessive acquisition of items, difficulty discarding items, and significant distress or impairment in daily functioning due to hoarding behavior.


Hoarding is relatively rare, affecting about 2 to 5 percent of the population. However, this condition can be very debilitating and dangerous. It can lead to unsanitary living conditions: rotten food, dead animals, animal urine and faces, mold growth, structural damage, rodents, other pests, and fire hazards are just a few examples of the dangers that hoarding situations represent. Here are some tips to help a loved one with hoarding cleanup and remediation:

Image shows a living room filled with clutter and trash.

Educate Yourself About HD


Hoarding is a mental health condition that affects millions of people. If you want to help someone who might be suffering from HD, it's essential to educate yourself about the condition so you can participate in any type of hoarding cleanup. Many resources are available online and in libraries that can help you learn more about HD.


The American Psychiatric Association is a great place to start. They have various resources, including information on hoarding, treatments, and support groups. Another good resource is the International OCD Foundation. This organization offers online resources, educational materials, and support groups for people affected by hoarding.

If you want to understand better what a hoarder is going through, try to put yourself in their shoes. Imagine how you would feel if you were afraid of throwing away things. Would you be able to part with items that have sentimental value, even if you don't need them?


Be Patient & Understanding


Try to have patience and compassion when talking to your loved one about hoarding. It's important to remember that this is a mental health condition, not a choice, and people who suffer from hoarding cannot simply "snap out of it." It's a long process, especially considering that not everyone develops HD for the same reasons.

Image shows the same living room area after it was cleaned by Bio-One specialists.

Be supportive and understanding, and let the individual know that you are there to help them accomplish peace of mind. Offer encouragement and praise when a hoarder makes progress.


It's important to have realistic expectations when carrying out a hoarding cleanup. This is a long-term condition that will likely require professional help. Don't expect hoarders to clear out their house overnight. The goal should be to help them accomplish small, gradual changes.


Create a Safe and Supportive Environment and Avoid Judgment


It can be difficult for a hoarder to part away from their possessions, especially if they are afraid of losing them. Creating a safe and supportive environment can help your hoarders feel more comfortable discussing the condition and working on a hoarding cleanup process. Start by talking to the individual about hoarding in a non-judgmental way. It's important to avoid using shaming language.


Encourage Professional Help


Suppose a friend or family member is hoarding to the point where it's affecting their daily life and causing them distress. In that case, you should know that there are many treatments available for HD. With the help of a professional, they can learn to manage their condition and live a healthier life. Many people who suffer from hoarding can benefit from cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT).

Image shows a kitchen area impacted by severe hoarding.

What is Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy?


Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy is a psychological treatment that helps people change their thoughts and behaviors. CBT has been proven to be an effective treatment for people dealing with HD, and it can help hoarders learn how to manage this condition.


CBT helps people change the thoughts and behaviors that contribute to hoarding. It can help them learn how to properly address the hoarding problem, organize their property, and deal with stressful situations healthily.

Support Groups for Hoarding


There are many support groups available for people affected by HD. These groups provide a safe and supportive environment where people can share their experiences and learn from each other. Many of these groups are facilitated by professionals, such as therapists or social workers.


If you are looking for a support group for hoarding, we can help connect you with one. If you or someone you know may be feeling overwhelmed and needs help with hoarding cleanup, Bio-One specialists will be there to assist you.

Image shows the same kitchen area after it was cleaned by Bio-One specialists.

Other Treatments & Medication for HD


There is no specific medication for HD, but medications can be prescribed to help manage symptoms of other similar health conditions, such as anxiety and depression. It is important to note that hoarding is not the same as these conditions. The diagnosis from professionals is crucial to choosing the right path for the individual who might be dealing with a mental disorder.


Many resources are available online to help hoarders find the proper treatment for their needs. If you think someone might benefit from treatment, encourage them to seek a therapist or psychiatrist specializing in HD.


Always Be Honest with Your Doctor


If someone you know is struggling with hoarding, talk to their doctor about whether any of these medications might be right for them. Medication alone is not likely to be enough to help a person with HD, but it can be used in combination with other treatments, such as CBT.


Help your Loved One Declutter Their Home


For a successful hoarding cleanup, help is always necessary. Making a hoarder's home a safe space again in a timely manner is a challenge everyone trying to help needs to understand.  This means keeping their living space clear of clutter and ensuring no fire hazards.


Here are a few tips for helping a hoarder clean their home from garbage, trash, and junk:


  • Start small. Don' try to clear out the entire house at once. Instead, begin with one room or even one corner of a room.

  • Set realistic goals. Hoarders may not be able to get rid of all of their things but they may be able to reduce the accumulation of clutter in their house.

  • Create a system. Create a hoarding cleanup strategy for organizing belongings and successfully address the problem. This could involve labeling storage boxes or using color-coded hangers.

  • Let go of perfection. The goal is to make progress, not to have a perfect home.


Consider Getting Help from a Professional Cleaning Company Like Bio-One


It can be difficult to get a hoarder to part with their possessions. They may see these items as valuable, even if they are no longer usable, and throwing them away can be a very emotionally charged experience. You want to help someone you care about with a hoarding situation, but you may not know how.


One option is to contact a professional hoarding cleanup company like Bio-One. We specialize in hoarding cleanup services for victims and families who feel overwhelmed and don't know how to face a cleanup process.


Hoarding situations can be dangerous. We help clients clear out their homes, and get rid of the items that they no longer need. We understand the challenges and multiple hazardous situations hoarders' homes represent. That's why our team of professional cleaners works closely with each client to make sure that their needs are met.


If you are concerned about helping someone with hoarding cleanup, contact Bio-One of Chula Vista today. We can help them restore their property from any hoarding situation, no matter how extreme or difficult it might seem.

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Bio-One is always ready to address issues that result from unexpected circumstances like death and severe injury. We carry out our professional team as soon as possible so you can concentrate on other vital arrangements before beginning the healing process.


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Locally owned, Bio-One of Chula Vista works closely with emergency responders, hoarding task forces, public service agencies, and other organizations to provide the most efficient service possible. We proudly serve the San Diego County location and surrounding cities and communities: Chula Vista, San Diego, National City, Lemon Grove, Spring Valley, El Cajon, Santee, Lakeside, Coronado, La Mesa, Imperial Beach, Bonita, Alpine, and surrounding communities.

We are also proud members of the National City Chamber of Commerce and an approved HomeAdvisor company. We always offer free estimates for our services, and we are available 24/7! Contact us at 619-892-1744.

Published by:

Rafael Alemán.

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