Explains what hoarding is, possible causes and how you can access treatment and support. Includes tips for helping someone who is hoarding, as well as helping yourself.
You may feel very worried if you think someone you care about is hoarding. It might feel difficult to know how to talk to them about it, especially if they don't agree that they are hoarding.
You might have already tried to offer support, but the person you're worried about is maybe unwilling or unable to accept help. This can feel really difficult, worrying or frustrating.
But there are lots of helpful things you can try. We offer suggestions for ways you can support them while also looking after your own wellbeing.
If you are supporting someone who is hoarding, whether they agree or not, you should try to keep these important points in mind:
During their process of starting to clean or clear, you can help by thinking about the following:
“Discarding is never a simple yes-no process, and most items will be pondered over through several sort-throughs, over a period of months and years.”
Not everyone is ready to admit that they have problems with hoarding. If someone close to you is in this position, try to:
“I feel that my mum is at risk in the event of a fire or if she has a medical emergency. The simple daily tasks that we all take for granted (getting into bed, cooking a meal, going up the stairs) are all made more difficult (and dangerous) by the amount of stuff in her home, and her attachment to it.”
Supporting someone with a mental health problem can feel draining. It's important to look after yourself as well:
You might find it very difficult living with someone who is hoarding, or has hoarding disorder. You might have lived with them for a long time without mentioning their hoarding, or you might have recently realised it.
What steps you take might also depend on what kind of relationship you have, and how their behaviour makes you feel. The other tips on this page can still help you, but you could also consider these ideas:
This information was published in February 2022. We will revise it in 2025.
References and bibliography available on request.
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