How to Move a Hoarder: 5 Helpful Tips

by Dusty Rhodes on Jan 06, 2017  in 
  • Home Storage

According to Wikipedia, a hoarder is an individual that is obsessed with the acquisition of a large number of objects in the home and is unwilling to discard them. Hoarding can often lead to a great amount of stress and tension among roommates or families. So, when people who are considered hoarders have to relocate, the question will arise: “How can we successfully relocate all of these items?” Below you will find five helpful tips for moving a hoarder to a new home.

Challenges Hoarders Face While Moving

For hoarders, moving can be a very difficult task both logistically and emotionally. Being aware of challenges that hoarders face while moving can help you promote an efficient and healthy moving process. Here are some of the most common challenges to look out for when helping a hoarder move.

  • Difficulty letting go of possessions- Hoarders often keep items such as old newspapers or broken appliances that may seem obvious to throw out to you, yet have sentimental value to the hoarder. It is important to not take matters into your own hands and simply throw out everything that seems like garbage, as that could cause an even bigger challenge for the hoarder.

  • Hazardous living conditions- If a hoarder has been collecting items for many years, this can often result in large piles of unorganized boxes and loose clutter that pose tripping hazards. In certain cases, untouched belongings can even develop mold, fungus, and other sanitation problems, especially if the hoarder owns a pet or is careless while disposing of food products. During the moving process, much of these problems are uncovered all at once when boxes and items are moved for the first time in years. Combat these challenges while moving by wearing gloves and other protective equipment, as well as using sanitary and disinfectant sprays during the cleaning process.

  • Reluctance to accept help- Letting go of items is one of the most difficult challenges for hoarders to face, and as a result they may refuse your help when moving to ensure they can keep their belongings. Even if they are aware of the problems hoarding causes, letting go of belongings can still pose a serious challenge. Try your best to remind them of the importance of getting rid of clutter for their quality of life, and help them to come to terms with this fact.

  • Difficulty organizing belongings- Categorizing your belongings is a crucial part of moving that makes the process much easier. With a hoarder, it can be difficult to categorize things due to the sheer volume of clutter they likely have. Be prepared to create an organization plan that can be used to narrow down the hoarder's possessions.

Every hoarding situation is different, but it is likely that you will run into these challenges and other ones. Even though helping a hoarder move can pose a lot of challenges, you can successfully overcome them with a solid plan and good intentions. Here are some tips that can help you through the moving and packing process.

How to Help a Hoarder Move 

Step 1: Educate them

If you need to assist in the relocation of a hoarder, then you first need to educate them about the situation. Explain to them the definition of hoarding and politely inform them that they display some of those tendencies. When educating them about the situation, be sure to do so in a positive manner. Try to avoid aggressive behavior or saying things that could cause conflict. You should avoid statements such as, “You're a hoarder, and you need to change.” Instead, when having this conversation, you should stick to the facts.

Hoarding behaviors are often classified as a type of mental health disorder, making education all the more important. Like many other psychological disorders, a hoarding disorder can cause large amounts of stress to an individual, accompanied by anxiety and depression. Along with these, hoarders often have an increased potential to cause safety risks because they may not be able to leave their residence should an emergency situation arise. Hoarding can also affect a person's social life in various ways. Excessive clutter can lead to isolation, which might affect life-long relationships and contribute to further mental health problems.

Relocating to a new home is often one of the most stressful activities for people with hoarding disorders to imagine, so it is important to establish an understanding of the hoarder's mental health. If the moving process is proving to be too difficult for them, you may consider working with a mental health professional to understand their situation better. Every hoarding situation is different, and working with a therapist or counselor can help a person to overcome the stress associated with moving and parting with their belongings.

Step 2: Lend a Helping Hand

Find out if the person involved is open to assistance with their hoarding situation. If they are, offer to help them organize their home and eliminate any unnecessary clutter. However, you should approach this situation in a gentle manner because hoarders often become attached to their belongings, so letting them go may be difficult. They may become emotional and ultimately not listen to anyone if they feel that they are being attacked instead of helped.

Step 3: Create a Plan of Action

The first step in any stressful situation is knowing and admitting that a problem exists and asking for help. Once the problem has been identified a plan of action can be developed. People who struggle with hoarding need to set attainable goals. Therefore, it would be beneficial to write down a number of goals and set a timeline when they should be accomplished. This will allow them to stay organized throughout the entire process making the process less stressful. This may even lead to positive long-term changes in their daily behavior.

Step 4: Take Your Time Packing

There will be numerous challenges associated with packing up a hoarder's belongings, so it is important to take it slow to ensure you do it properly. Before you attempt to pack belongings in boxes, you should separate items into different categories. Consider which items you'll want to keep with you when moving, which items to put in storage, as well as what you can discard. By organizing a hoarder's belongings first, you'll be able to get rid of a good amount of clutter that will make packing much easier.

Additionally, you'll want to make sure that you are well-equipped for packing a hoarder. Be sure that you have plenty of regular packing supplies such as boxes, packing tape, and plenty of labels for organizing. During the process, it is likely that you will need to do a large amount of decluttering, so have plenty of trash bags around the home to store extra clutter. In some extreme cases, you may even want to bring personal protective wear such as gloves and masks, as a hoarder's home can easily become unsanitary from years of clutter that has remained untouched.

Step 5: Rent Storage Containers

Storage containers would be a great option for people who have to move a large number of belongings. In some cases, there may not be enough room in the home for all of the belongings. Renting a storage container during the relocation process allows for the opportunity to store excess items until there is time to sort through them and determine what should be kept and what items need to be discarded.

No matter how stressful the situation is or may become, always remember to stay positive while dealing with a hoarder during the moving process. Offer problem-solving skills and techniques that will be beneficial to the situation. Let them make the final decision, but try to communicate and offer advice in such a way that allows them to discard items that they believe are no longer needed. At the end of the day, being positive is one of the best ways to help a hoarder complete a successful relocation.

Hoarding is a problem that many people struggle with, and it can affect many areas of your life if it is not dealt with effectively. The information above will assist and educate people who are trying to help a hoarder relocate to a new home. If you would like more information on the SMARTBOX moving and storage process, contact us today at 1-877-627-8269.

Dusty Rhodes