When faced with the challenge of helping a loved one who hoards to transition to a new living environment, the task can seem more daunting than many others. Hoarding is a complex behavior rooted in various psychological factors, and its effects on the individual and their family can be significant. As we strive to approach hoarding with empathy and pragmatism, it is possible to create a supportive environment for change. Here are our expert tips to help a hoarder move and relocate safely.
Before delving into the logistics, understanding what hoarding is and the reasons behind why an individual might hoard is essential. It's not merely about accumulating clutter; hoarding is a mental health disorder characterized by persistent difficulty discarding possessions due to a perceived need to save them. This condition leads to an accumulation of possessions that can become so severe, that it obstructs the functionality of living areas of the home.
We covered it all in our blog: What are the Signs of Hoarder Behavior & How Can You Help?
Approaching a person who hoards with empathy and respect is crucial. Understand that the items they keep have deep personal significance, and it's not a situation where "cleaning up" is the solution. Engage in open, non-confrontational conversations to discuss the need for change and transition. Caregivers and family members are often perceived as a directive to help in the decluttering and relocation process.
Create a well-organized plan to address all the aspects of the move. Start by identifying the new living space, envisioning how it will be used, and setting specific goals for the move. This might include downsizing belongings, finding professional help, and arranging for any physical or mental health support services the individual may need.
The process of downsizing a hoarder's possessions can be emotionally charged. Implement strategies to help make decisions on what to keep, donate, or discard. Categorizing items by value or use can provide a system, but it's important to allow the individual to lead as much as possible in this process.
Take a look at this guiding blog post by our friends at Bio-One of Pittsburgh: How to Help a Hoarder Downsize Their Home with Compassion!
Moving is already a complex undertaking and doing so while assisting a hoarder involves additional layers of coordination. Seek out mental health professionals who specialize in hoarding disorders. Additionally, consider organizations that can offer support services and can deal with sensitive hoarding situations.
You may be interested in this article by Bio-One of Poway on Tips for Helping a Loved One Dealing With Hoarding Disorder.
Ensure all legal and financial aspects are in order. This means sorting through paperwork, paying off overdue bills, and preparing documents for the new living arrangement. Legal aid and financial advisors can help navigate complex situations and protect the hoarder's interests. Here's a checklist of the legal and financial aspects you should consider before settling on a new house:
Once the move is complete, focus on supporting the hoarder in their new environment. Help them establish routines and systems for maintaining a healthy living space. Encourage continued therapy and support groups that can help manage the underlying psychological issues.
Moving to a new house doesn't mean the end of the Hoarding Disorder, but it can be a fresh start and an opportunity for growth and positive change. With patience, compassion, and professional support, the outlook is positive!
Moving forward after helping a hoarder relocate is also about recognizing the limits of personal expertise. In some cases, professional hoarding clean-up services may be necessary to ensure the safety and functionality of the living environment. Bio-One of Chula Vista has extensive experience in hoarding cleanup in San Diego County, CA, and can offer the expertise and services needed to address the physical aspects of hoarding!