How to Deal With A Parent's Hoarding

  • by Ashley Griffin
  • April 2, 2014
How to Deal With A Parent's Hoarding

Hoarding is a disorder in which a person refuses to discard the things that they no longer need nor use.  Generally, the person who is hoarding has an ulterior incentive as to why they began collecting objects in the first place. This can usually be triggered by a difficult emotional event. According to the Mayo Clinic, hoarding is usually associated with various complex mental states and reasons such as anxiety, depression and anxiety, mental illness, history of alcohol abuse, or grief.

The need to hold on to things is generally associated with the anxiety or fear of loss within that person's life. Loss can range from a family member to a job and even to inanimate objects. Hoarders take comfort in hiding under a security blanket of objects and their possessions end up taking on alternate meanings.

How Can You Confront Your Parent's Hoarding?

Not only is living in an overly cluttered house stressful and emotionally damaging, it is also dangerous as well. Caring for someone who hoards can cause you to feel frustrated, overwhelmed--like you are losing control. Parents who hoard may not be aware of the effect that their state of living has on you. So how can you confront them?

  • Pay attention to the effect that hoarding has on your life

  • Remain calm as hoarding is a result of mental instability

  • Be suggestive not demanding

  • Try to take your parent's perspective

  • Attempt to make their hoarding actions positive

  • Talk to them and find out why they are attached to certain objects

  • Find out how they feel about the life they are living, are they happy?

  • Know the symptoms of hoarding

  • Let your parents know how you feel, they often don't realize how it is affecting you

What are the Dangers of Hoarding?

Hoarding can pose serious health risks.

  • Naturally, there is the risk of physical injury from the inability to walk properly through one's home, especially an elderly parent.

  • Households overwhelmed by clutter are at high risk for fires with numerous flammable materials accumulated.

  • The risk of disease as hoarders lose the ability to clean their home of bacteria properly.

  • Overall, the house of a hoarder will become unsafe to live in and become abandoned with or without the people in it.

How Can You Help?

There are many ways to help a parent who is suffering from a hoarding issue. Now that you know the symptoms, the causes, and the effects it can have on both your life and your parent’s, you can take action.

Look for support groups around your area for help, seek out a specialist who handles hoarding interventions, or try therapy if other methods do not work. Remember to be positive, supportive, and involved, as hoarding is not just a collecting issue, it’s a deep-seeded emotional issue as well.

KEYWORDS: parent hoarding