ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

5 Helpful Things You Can Say to a Hoarder

Updated on October 29, 2012

I recently published a Hub on things that you shouldn't bother to say to a hoarder in your life because they're unhelpful. But what if you do have a hoarder that you live with or are close to? You can't just say nothing! Here are five helpful things that you can say to a hoarder as you work together to deal with the situation:

1. I know that dealing with this is going to be hard for you.

It is really important to acknowledge that there is a problem to be solved but that doing so is going to be difficult for the person who has a problem with hoarding. You may not understand why it is so hard for the person to just get rid of their junk but you can certainly step back from the situation and see that it is difficult, even if you don't understand why. Try to focus on that and have empathy for the person as they go through the difficult experience of resolving this problem with you. Showing that you understand that it is hard goes a long way towards helping the person feel supported as they move forward with finding a solution to the problem.

2. Here is what I am feeling.

You should discuss your feelings with the hoarder in a calm manner using "I" statements. Do not be accusatory. For example, do not say, "you are making my life miserable with this mess". Say instead, "I am feeling really overwhelmed by the mess in the home and want to find a way to get a little bit of space for myself". There is no guarantee, of course, that a hoarder is going to be able to hear you and respond appropriately, but the chance is much greater when you approach the conversation this way than if you are confrontational, accusatory and negative.

3. How can we make this situation better for both of us?

Phrasing the question in this manner does a few different things. It states that there is a problem that needs to be resolved without being mean or accusatory about it. It shows that you want to work as a partner with the person to solve this problem, so that they don't feel like they are all alone and that you are fighting each other. And finally, it puts the ball in their court to make a decision about the best way to move forward. The truth is the hoarder may not have an answer but this is a good way to get the conversation going in a positive direction.

4. Let's take baby steps.

Part of the problem for hoarders is that they feel really overwhelmed by the process of making decisions about what to keep and what to let go of. The idea of having to do this with a whole huge cluttered house of things is very overwhelming. Make sure that you let the person know that you understand that the problem isn't going to be solved overnight. Once you do begin to work together on the cleaning process, acknowledge and celebrate all of the small achievements that are made.

5. What is the best way for me to help you with this?

If the hoarder is willing to accept help with his or her problem then you want to give them as much control as possible over the situation while continuing to show your support and enthusiasm for the project. If you just take over, the hoarder may shut down. Make sure to ask what you can do to help, where your efforts will be most useful, welcome and appreciated and how the hoarder wants you to handle certain items as the process continues. Show care and respect for this person and their belongings and they may respond in kind towards you.

Hoarding is a complicated mental health issue. It often affects the entire family and not just the hoarder. It may be necessary to work with a therapist to help figure out the best way to address this situation in your own home.

Do you live with a hoarder? Share your story in the comments below.

Comments

Submit a Comment

  • DDE profile image

    Devika Primić 

    4 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

    Hoarders like keeping stuff they have the purpose for and I know a few like that I get rid off whatever I know would stay in a corner. You have interesting and informative hubs.

  • bettybarnesb profile image

    bettybarnesb 

    5 years ago from Bartlett, TN

    Personally, I don't know any hoarders but I watch the show sometimes on TV and I do feel sorry for them. It has to be a very terrible place in life. Well written article. Hope to read more of your work.

    Be blessed...

  • profile image

    PWalker281 

    5 years ago

    This, along with the hub about what not to say to a hoarder, provides excellent advice for families and friends who have hoarders in their lives.

    A good friend of mine appears to be a hoarder. We've talked about it, and I can see how she is emotionally attached to and identified with things she has kept for a long time. I basically listen to her and try to refrain from giving her any advice. Just recently, she asked me if she should let go of some stuff, and I said yes. I think waiting to be asked for advice is better than just giving it. Posing the question seemed to be a sign that she was ready to move forward.

    Voted up and shared.

  • rfmoran profile image

    Russ Moran - The Write Stuff 

    5 years ago from Long Island, New York

    Good hub on a topic a lot of people would just as soon avoid. How about asking: "Can you tell me where I can find a screwdriver?"

  • Edgar Alan Cole profile image

    Edgar Alan Cole 

    5 years ago

    I am a hoarder in denial. I know there are some things I should let go but still have. This article made me realize that it is time to do some house cleaning. Thank you for sharing.

  • graceomalley profile image

    graceomalley 

    5 years ago

    I have wondered if my husband is a hoarder. Letting go of items really is hard for him, and he likes to have thngs where he can see them - piled on top of the dresser for instance. His personal space tends to disintegrate into flotsam and jetsam. He is an only child whose mom picked up after hm, and we married young and I started picking up after him, so there is history to it. There seems to be a worry that he will 'need' items, or that a need will arise, and that specific item will be a lifesaver. Actually, it is a strong worry really - he worries about losing something important like a receipt needed for a large reimbursement. My arguement that the top of the dresser with all the other stuff is a bad place for a valuable receipt doesn't help - he just looks pained. Maybe I should read about hoarding.

working

This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

Show Details
Necessary
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Features
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Marketing
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Statistics
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)