Hoarding is a serious problem, defined as a pattern of excessive acquisition of objects in one’s living space. It is a form of mental illness, not limited by physical or mental stamina.

Also described as ‘heavy cluttering,’ hoarding is a compulsive disorder that impacts a person’s health, safety and social interactions. Those who want to help a hoarder are often faced with a multitude of challenges that can strain the relationship.  

Ask for help.

HouseWorks has supported families in Greater Boston struggling with hoarding and heavy clutter for more than a decade. Oftentimes, it’s best to bring in outside assistance with the training to help hoarders, people who know exactly how to keep your loved one safe and at ease with the cleaning process. Call HouseWorks at (617) 928-1010—we can walk you through it. 

Start the cleanup process.

First, make a plan to break up the work into manageable phases.  Keep in mind that an overly aggressive approach to hoarding can backfire and make matters worse in the long run.  Try to engage your loved one as much as possible, and always be patient.  

Encourage them to donate as much as possible—knowing their treasured belongings will benefit others can make it easier to let go.  Objectively discuss ways in which the hoarding behavior is having a negative impact on the person’s life and talk about the visitors and activities they will be able to enjoy once the clutter has been reduced.

Again – managing a hoarding problem is difficult to do on your own. Ask for help. Look for resources in your area. HouseWorks is here to help. Please call if you need us.

For more information about hoarding from the ADAA (Anxiety and Depression Association of America), click here.