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Combating hoarding; the 5-step plan

Hoarding, also known as hoarding disorder, is a serious problem that affects not only the hoarder themselves, but also those around them. This article provides insights and practical tips to effectively combat hoarding, with a human and understanding approach. People with hoarding have a compulsion to collect and need professional help with this. However, a collector with an obsessive-compulsive disorder must be properly helped by an experienced care provider from, for example, the Mental Health Service. Evacuation can only begin after professional help and/or home guidance.

What is hoarding?

Hoarding is a psychiatric condition in which a person has extreme difficulty getting rid of items, regardless of their actual value. This can lead to crowded living spaces, fire hazards, and serious social and emotional problems. Unfortunately, collecting stuff is not as harmless as it seems. 

Help with hoarding

Providing assistance to someone with hoarding requires a careful, empathetic approach. Engaging professionals such as social workers, mental health specialists, and professional organizers can be crucial in providing the right support. For example, most hoarders are afraid to throw away things and in this case the GGD can help. 

Golden rules for helping someone with hoarding

It is essential to communicate respectfully and without judgement. Never speak condescendingly about the collected items and work hand-in-hand with the hoarder to make joint decisions about sorting and possibly disposing of items. Someone with a psychiatric disorder needs professional help in throwing away things and it is therefore important that this person is helped as best as possible with his/her urge to collect. 

Five steps for hoarding problems

1. Create awareness

Help the hoarder understand the impact of their behavior on their life and environment.

2. Make a plan

Work with the hoarder to develop a clear, achievable plan for decluttering and organizing the living space.

3. Small steps

Start with small, manageable tasks to make the process less overwhelming.

4. Provide support

Provide emotional support and encouragement to the hoarder without forcing or rushing them.

5. Seek professional help

If necessary, seek help from specialized professionals to address the underlying problem. Consider the GGD or GGZ.

Never speak disparagingly about the things a hoarder has collected

It is important to recognize that each object may have some value or meaning to the hoarder. Respectful dialogue is crucial to building trust.

Work hand-in-hand with the hoarder

Involvement and collaboration are key words in the process. It is important that the hoarder feels part of the solution, rather than the problem.

Ask for help from different professionals

The complexity of hoarding often requires a multidisciplinary approach. In addition to psychiatric help, cognitive behavioral therapy, for example, can be an effective means of tackling behavioral patterns. Social workers and professional organizers can provide practical support in organizing and tidying up the living environment.

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Help Center

What exactly is hoarding?

Hoarding, or hoarding, is a disorder in which a person has difficulty getting rid of things, resulting in extreme collections that can take over living spaces and interfere with daily functions.

Why do some people find it so difficult to get rid of things?

This may be due to various psychological factors, including fear of losing something important, emotional attachment to objects, or cognitive problems that make it difficult to make decisions about what is important and what is not.

Is hoarding the same as just having a lot of stuff?

No, hoarding is a recognized psychiatric condition that causes significant stress and functional impairment. It goes beyond just having a lot of stuff; it's the inability to get rid of things that objectively have little to no value.

Can hoarding be dangerous?

Yes, hoarding can lead to unsafe living conditions, such as fire hazards, tripping hazards, and health risks due to unsanitary conditions.

How can I help someone who is suffering from hoarding?

Start by showing empathy and understanding. Do not express judgment and try to work together towards achievable goals. Also consider seeking professional help from a therapist, social worker, or professional organizer.

What shouldn't I do when trying to help?

Avoid throwing away items without permission or forcing the person to part with their belongings. This can lead to more fear and resistance.

Are there treatments available for hoarding?

Yes, treatments such as cognitive behavioral therapy have proven to be effective in addressing the underlying problems of hoarding and helping to develop better cleaning and decision-making skills.

How can I find a professional who has experience with hoarding?

You can start by consulting your GP or local mental health institution. There are also organizations and networks of professional organizers who specialize in hoarding.

Can hoarding worsen without treatment?

Yes, without appropriate intervention, hoarding can worsen, leading to increased accumulation and more serious health and safety consequences.

How can I maintain patience while helping someone with hoarding?

Remind yourself that hoarding is a complex condition that takes time to address. Celebrate small successes and continue to promote positive, supportive communication.