I have a friend that hoards everything and anything and it is starting to impact on her social life, no longer having people over for lunch and dinner. I want to help, does anyone have any experience with helping someone overcome hoarding? I want to do this in a respectful way as she is such a beautiful and kind person.

Posted anonymously, 1st May 2016

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  • I would sit down and be honest with your friend about how you feel!


  • Firstly she needs to identify IF it is an issue for her. It may not be/she may not be ready to identify it. Tell her you are concerned because she is kind and valuable to you. Hoaders keep things for a variety of reasons – reminders of times gone, often associating the object with a happy moment, fear of forgetting or fear of regretting getting rid of the object and the possibility that it might be useful oneday. It’s not just stuff, it’s tied into her psyche of who she is in some way, she may see the things as an extension of herself or may have struggled financially and see all junk as valuable. I had a declutterer in my house and she would pick up an object and say “tell me about this.” I found it very helpful and now ask myself that question. It was a very non confrontational way to talk about having too many things!


  • I think you may need to encourage her to talk to a psychologist about it as I understand hoarding can often be a symptom of something else going on. Perhaps have her over to your house for a coffee and tell her your concerns. You’re a lovely friend.


  • There may be some stuff there that may be useful to a charity if not sold at a garage sale. There are some that sell items to raise funds to help people with various situations. There are some that put things aside to give to people who have lost everything in floods or fires. Some areas have “mens sheds” that accept and repair small furniture, toys etc to give to charities for distribution.


  • It would be a hard thing to do as she might not see herself that way.. My hubby is kind of the same luckily he only keeps what was ours and doesnt pick it up off the street.. If its something like a broken kids toy i throw it out with the rubbish rubbish day once he has gone to work.. It doesnt really make a big difference but i know thats one less thing i have to worry about when we move..
    You could suggest a big garage sale and say with the proceeds she could take a short break away… That way if she will allow you to help anything thats broken gets binned…
    If you have the time to help you could help her set it up.. Lucky for us i have managed to keep the junk my hubby keeps in the garage it his domane and none of it has made its way into the house… When he tries to bring it inside for storage i take it back out into the garage when he is at work…
    Also look out for the signs of depression, maybe its her way of coping.. As you said she has withdrawn from the social circle so that could be whats underneath it all..


  • I heard something on the radio about this. I think there are some organizations that can help along with webpages that give advice
    e.g. http://www.anxietyaustralia.com.au/anxiety-help/compulsive-hoarding/
    including getting GP and psychological help. I’m not sure how you can encourage your friend to see there is a problem and get to this stage where she wants to get some help. Perhaps suitable motivation would be that there is a health or safety risk (eg fire risk or pests/mice in the house) along with the social isolation that you are starting to notice.

    • You posted a very interesting link!

      • Thanks for the answer and the link – very thoughtful. :)


  • I would just ask if everything is ok & take it from there.


  • Start by asking her about something specific – eg “Why are you keeping all those newspapers?” It might be a way into a conversation.


  • Yes, it’s difficult indeed. She has to see by herself that there is a problem there. If she doesn’t, it’s a little bit tricky to help.


  • Hoarding is a complex problem that is not easily overcome. Be kind, be caring and be supportive – you don’t know and may never know the underlying cause. things may get a whole lot worse before getting better. Your friend may not see there is any problem at all. Good luck!

    • Thank you for your kind words. I intend to be a support and help with sensitivity.


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