Living with a Hoarder – What Should You Do
Having to share one home with a compulsive hoarder is always extremely difficult as such a condition poses risks on everything from the relationships within the household to the health of everyone living in the house. If you are living with a hoarder, you need to understand that this is not just a period that will magically go away on its own. Hoarders rarely have an idea that their pattern of behaviour is out of the ordinary. That is why they need your help.
How to recognise a hoarder
Compulsive hoarders are often mistaken for pack rats. But while the latter collects enormous amounts of objects and junk because they are too frugal or stingy, hoarders do it because they have a strong emotional attachment to objects. Such a behaviour comes with a number of risks both for the person who is suffering from a hoarding disorder and for the people around him or her. That is because when a living space is filled with too much junk it becomes:
- An attractive space for rodents and insects
- Vulnerable to fire and other hazards
- Dirty and unhealthy
- A shortcut to injuries
- A hindrance for a normal social life
How to take control over the situation
Since hoarders often do not realise that they have a problem, making them change their ways can be incredibly difficult. In fact, it will be impossible to help someone with a compulsive hoarding disorder if they do not want to be helped. There is no point in pushing such individuals to reform. Instead, it is better if you gradually present them to the issue. To do that, discuss the challenges which their hoarding behaviour has created around the house and in the family. However, try not to sound too harsh or angry but be as understanding as you can. Also, let them meet with someone who has suffered from a similar disorder. Eventually, they will be ready to see a professional.
While you are patiently waiting for your beloved hoarder to wake up and understand that they need help, you must keep an eye on that pile of rubbish in your home. Make sure you regularly check whether it is infested by pests. Consider placing fire detector in that area to prevent any accidents. Whatever you do, do not throw away any of the objects in the hoarder’s collection because that may provoke a very emotional response. Still, do your best to prevent this collection from growing. This means that you will quickly need to dispose of any new junk in or near your home before the compulsive hoarder sees it.
Don’t be afraid to set some boundaries. Do not let the hoarder take over your living space. Agree to let him or her use only one room in the house for hoarding but let it be known that every other area in the home remains clutter free. If the hoarder has already started using all of your rooms, consider calling a team of domestic junk collectors.
Arm yourself with patience because even when the compulsive hoarder finally decides to cooperate, the road ahead will still be long and bumpy.