Sometimes, flat-out intervention can be unavoidable. Hoarding, in extreme cases, can lead to health risks, both for the humans and any animals involved, and especially if the hoarded item is what others might call literal trash. There may be real safety concerns if entrances and exits are blocked or if flammable collectibles are stored near a heat source.
If the slow, gentle approach fails or you believe the situation is an emergency, the best thing to do is call for help. Removal of the objects and animals, accompanied by therapy, may be the safest way to handle the situation, but you'll probably want to call in (or at least get advice from) a professional. Most mental-health experts and organizations provide resources on and help for those suffering with hoarding disorder, so start there. A look online or in a phonebook for psychologists, psychiatrists or social workers should yield quick results.
It won't be an easy road, and no one guarantees results, but if you can get your loved one to accept there is a problem and that you truly want to help, that's a step in the right direction. Ultimately, the rest is up to the hoarder.
For more information on hoarding and other mental health issues, look over the links below.
- Hoarding Signs and How to Get Help
- Quiz: Hoarder or Messy?
- Hoarding Resources, Treatment and Information
More Great Links
- Borcharde, Therese J. "Compulsive Hoarding and 6 Tips to Help." Psych Central. March 19, 2011. (June 28, 2011) http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2011/03/19/compulsive-hoarding-and-6-tips-to-help/
- Help for Hoarders: What really works? Neat & Simple Living. (June 28, 2011) http://blog.neatandsimple.com/2009/08/helping-hoarders.html#
- Span, Paula. "Help for Hoarding." The New York Times. January 28, 2010. (June 28, 2011) http://newoldage.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/01/28/help-for-hoarding/
- The Tormented Hoarder. The Dr. Oz Show. (June 28, 2011) http://www.doctoroz.com/videos/tormented-hoarder
HowStuffWorks looks at the concept of digital hoarding and how it compares with other forms of hoarding.