Hoarding is hard to categorize. It was not included in the DSM until quite recently, and although it is associated with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, it is not clearly defined. The holidays and the cold winter months may be a particularly trying time for hoarders and their families, since this is the season in which it is very easy to accumulate junk. Cold weather generally encourages people to stay indoors, which may also encourage depression and hoarding tendencies.
The temptation to make compulsive purchases may be found in many places; on television, radio, and in print ads. This environment may be very stressful to a hoarder and his family, so it is important to display compassion as the relative of a hoarder.
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The diminished quality of life hoarding breeds may be particularly disheartening to you during this time of year, but you need to approach the situation with positive solutions, not exasperation and judgment. This season may provide the perfect opportunity for you to help your loved one make a new start. Although hoarding may have a profoundly negative effect on the hoarders standard of living, you need to have compassion. Hoarding is a mental illness and in order to make the appropriate changes, the hoarder will probably need support from you, a mental health professional, and a hoarding cleaning service in order to unclutter his life. And, this may only be achieved if he is willing to do the work and make the change.
Gently urge him to get out of the house. Suggest that he go for a walk or take him on an excursion. If it is practical, see if he will come visit you and participate in holiday activities. Supporting him getting out of the house will hopefully broaden his world and make him more willing to see a therapist and hire a hoarding cleaning service. You should not try to clean out the house yourself; it is an overwhelming and potentially dangerous task.
A good hoarding cleaning company will offer junk removal and furniture removal services. It will also be staffed by employees who have training for how to handle hoarding cases. Hoarders feel an extreme emotional attachment to their possessions, so removing these items will be an anxiety-inducing experience for them.
If your relative is willing to explore treatment and recovery options, you need to be realistically optimistic. Your loved one will be undertaking a laborious, exhausting, but ultimately life improving process. And, if your loved one has not reached that point yet, continue to love and support him, especially during the winter months which may be the most difficult for him.
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