Posted by: Ellen Hankes | April 26, 2010

Shall We Get Hoarder Mom Organized While She Is Away?

We think my mom is a hoarder. She will be out-of-town visiting her sister for three days. Since she refuses to make any changes in the way she lives amidst extreme clutter, should our family go in and clean her house while she is away?

As a professional organizer specializing in chronic disorganization, I  frequently receive these questions from rightfully concerned family members of loved ones who have hoarding behaviors.

The answer is “no.” If there is not a  looming crisis such as eviction, increased distress my be the result of unauthorized removing, or even touching, of mom’s belongings. It is best to seek mental health counseling or treatment as an early step. Untrained, well-meaning family members could set mom back instead of move her forward in the long-term.

This is more than “just stuff” to mom if she has hoarding behaviors. Her perspective is different from yours and must be respected.

Physical or mental health issues such as depression, malnutrition or other conditions could be underlying causes for the situation and her inability to respond in normal ways. It is always worth considering physical evaluations by a doctor as another inital step.

Patience is your best friend as you move through the journey of change for a loved one who hoards.

Have you had an experience with trying to help a loved one who hoards? I would like to hear from you.


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