ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel
  • »
  • Health»
  • Mental Health»
  • Mental Health Self-Help

How to Live with a Hoarder and Keep Your Sanity

Updated on November 3, 2013

Protecting your own mental well-being

It's never easy to live with someone who hoards. A hoarder is someone who cannot distinguish the value of things and stores in excess. Today, hoarding is considered a form of mental disorder but there are many levels, some of which allow the hoarder to function in the home. Because the hoarder can manage day-to-day living, he or she remains in denial about the hoarding even though the conditions may cause emotional and psychological distress to others who live in the same environment.

Challenges of living with a hoarder

Living with a hoarder causes turmoil in non-hoarders' lives when the home is seriously cluttered. The social embarrassment and isolation lower self-esteem. Every physical task in the home, from cooking to retrieving clothing, requires unnecessary toil. Just looking at the unsightly mess makes one feel overwhelmed and depressed.

You may not be able to cure a hoarder of his hoarding compulsion but you can at the very least protect yourself from the negative effects of this mental condition. Moving out is preferable but when this is not an option, here are some tips that can help:

Boundaries

It is imperative that the non-hoarder draw a safe and healthy physical boundary for himself in the home. For example, his own bedroom, closet and a bathroom should be off-limits to any hoarding. Refuse to allow the hoarder to store junk inside the boundary line. If anything unwanted comes into the boundary line, it is within his right to dispose of it.

Keep a separate refrigerator and freezer. Claim a space in the garage for the non-hoarder's car. Simply say NO to hoarding within your boundary lines. Once the hoarder sees that you mean it and that items that cross those lines suddenly disappear, the hoarder will not use your space for storage.

Consider setting up a safe spot for yourself on the front porch, the back porch and the yards, too. Make it clean and pretty and spacious. Hoarders can get so used to seeing the clutter that they forget what clean and pretty looks like in the home environment. Juxtaposed next to the junk, the clean areas will entice hoarders to consider making the rest of their space just as beautiful.

Hoarders can be proud of their homes, too, and feel good about inviting others into their beautiful spaces. They simply don't know how to achieve this. They don't know where to begin. Seeing your beautiful space first can be a start.

Firmness

Those who allow themselves to get overrun or manipulated by hoarders are weak personalities with low self-esteem. There are husbands who must sleep in their cars or in a small chair in the garage or even their own separate apartments because they cannot deal with their spouses' hoarding compulsion. Giving in should never be an option. A healthy-minded person must stand up for his own mental well-being.

Being firm in setting your own psychological boundaries is a sign of your stable mental health. To give in to a person's mental disorder is to enable the mental illness. Again, you aren't trying to cure the hoarder; you are trying to maintain your own mental health!

Vigilance

Living with a pack rat that continually brings home more junk means you have to be on guard for incoming material goods. It can be exhausting to feel like a trash person, hauling out junk all the time. Put it into perspective: Everyone must drag out his trash weekly to the curb. Just add an extra two or three items each week.

Cutting off the hoarder's access to collecting

Is it cruel to take away the joy that the hoarder receives from gathering? Hoarding is a compulsion that he cannot control. Is it cruel to keep an alcoholic from drink? A true alcoholic will find a way to drink and a true hoarder will find a way to hoard but it is better to cut off easy access to the compulsion. It's easier to do when the hoarder cannot drive around to collect or buy junk but some manage to use mail order catalogs.

  1. Stop the subscriptions to mail order catalogs.
  2. Take away credit cards.
  3. Blocking shopping channels.
  4. Reduce shopping trips.
  5. Buy one, give one, toss one. This is an old shopping rule for compulsive shoppers. If you buy something, something else needs to go out (of the house) in the trash or donation bin.
  6. Ask friends and relatives to graciously accept any "gifts" from the hoarder and if these items are useless, to toss them out later.
  7. Ask people not to give material gifts but gifts of time or experiences. A lunch out will not add to the hoard.

Provide other healthy, happy social activities that do not involve shopping

Hoarders generally are trying to fill a void in their lives. The hoarding compulsion can be replaced with other activities such as visits with friends, crafting time, outings, reading, gaming, sports.

Challenge your hoarder to devote time to working on those hobbies that will use up his hoard materials. With a cleared home, he will have more space to focus on one project at a time. Invite his friends to join him to make it a social time.

Living with a hoarder takes patience, ingenuity and a hefty dose of assertiveness. The more you learn about this mental disorder, the more you'll be able to arm yourself with ways to maintain your mental health and the well-being of your hoarding loved one. Consider a forced emergency clean-up in the best interest of the hoarder who cannot make healthy decisions for himself. Please read "Why a Hoarder Can't Clean Up and How to Help" on Hubpages.

Do you live with a hoarder?

Do you live with a hoarder?

See results

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • Lori P. profile image
      Author

      Lori Phillips 4 years ago from Southern California USA

      I'm sorry for your loss. :(

    • Carola Finch profile image

      Carola Finch 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Died a long time ago.

    • Lori P. profile image
      Author

      Lori Phillips 4 years ago from Southern California USA

      Good for you. How is your hoarding loved one?

    • Carola Finch profile image

      Carola Finch 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      I basically snuck stuff out of the house slowly. I moved out as soon as I could.

    • Lori P. profile image
      Author

      Lori Phillips 4 years ago from Southern California USA

      Thank you, Carola. How did you endure?

    • Carola Finch profile image

      Carola Finch 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Well done. Good hub. I have lived with a hoarder in the past and it drove me nuts.

    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)