September 21, 2021

Helping a loved one with clutter

Clutter is for most of us an emotional issue and everything has an attachment, which makes it hard to part with anything.

The clutter takes over your life and the lives of your loved ones. It also takes away the family home.

Although hoarding can run alongside dementia, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and depression, experts believe it is a particular psychiatric disorder and best treated with intensive behaviour therapy and sometimes mediators.

Often hoarders will be resistant to change or deny that there is a problem.

It is usually a lifelong problem that started in childhood and can magnify in age. Hoarders are usually compulsive collectors and are usually left in a vulnerable position or clearly very distressed when having to make decisions when parting with items. This is because the hoarder has emotional attachment or sentimental attachment to possessions that they feel are very much part of themselves.

Sometimes hoarders’ problems are made worse with the loss of a spouse, parent, child or friend. At times hoarders often repeat history as they come from parents who were themselves hoarders and hoarding can be a result of shock, bad health or perhaps not having much as a child.

It is very hard for loved ones and family to understand this problem and it is a constant battle for everyone involved.

Here are some useful steps to follow when assisting a loved one to declutter:

  • Remember to be non-judgemental – this is so important.
  • Always appreciate how difficult this really is, be patient, supportive and caring.
  • Try to sort out items and place in piles of similar types i.e. all books, all magazines, all technology, clothes etc. This will make it easier to see how large the collections are. This will make the process easier (seeing is believing !!)
  • Start with one room and a small area, take your time and do not apply any pressure. This will help your loved one to trust and respect you and feel that you are trying to be understanding of how difficult and challenging this really is.

Following these steps, will not only prove successful, but will mean that your loved one will work with you again towards clearing the clutter and regaining the family home.