You might feel like you are alone if you discover you have an adult sibling who hoards, but the fact is you are not. In the United States, there are somewhere between 5 and 14 million people afflicted with what medically is known as hoarding disorder. If you have an adult sibling suffering from hoarding disorder, there are seven tactics you can employ to be supportive of your brother or sister:
- Educate yourself about hoarding disorder
- Do not pass judgment on your sibling
- Work to build trust with your sibling
- Permit your sibling to maintain a sense of control
- Gather necessary resources and support
- Develop a reasonable plan of action
- Think about the future
Educate Yourself About Hoarding Disorder
Before you embark on any of the other steps or strategies mentioned in this article, you have to educate yourself about hoarding disorder. At the start of the 21st century, hoarding disorder was recognized as a mental health condition. It is not something a person voluntarily choses to do.
You can obtain necessary information about hoarding disorder from experienced mental health professionals. There are mental health professionals who specialize in working with people afflicted with hoarding disorder. They typically also provide support services to family members as well.
There are also support groups for people who have relatives and other loved ones who are afflicted with hoarding disorder. You may also want to consider connecting with such a group as you begin to consider what you can and cannot do to support your sibling suffering from hoarding disorder.
Do Not Pass Judgment on Your Sibling
This may prove to be more difficult than it sounds on first blush, but you need to strive not to pass judgment on your sibling who hoards. Time and again, the initial (and understandable) reaction to a hoarding situation is to pass judgment on the hoarder his or her self. You need to consistently bear in mind that your sibling who hoards is a person with a mental health condition that needs support and assistance and not judgment.
Work to Build Trust With Your Sibling
On a related note, in addition to not passing judgment on your hoarding sibling, you need to work to build his or her trust. You will be able to provide more effective support and assistance for your brother or sister with hoarding disorder if you have garnered his or her trust.
Permit Your Sibling to Maintain a Sense of Control
As you embark on assisting your sibling address a hoarding situation, you need to allow your brother or sister to maintain a sense of control over the situation. This means that your brother or sister must be a player in the decision-making process when it comes to how and when a hoarding situation is addressed and ultimately resolved.
Gather Necessary Resources and Support
Another important tactic to employ when you have a sibling who needs support because of hoarding issues is to gather necessary resources and support. There are some specific types of resources and support you should garner to aid your hoarding sibling that include:
- Professional mental health support and assistance. There are counselors and therapists that specialize specifically in working with individuals like your sibling that have been diagnosed with hoarding disorder.
- Professional hoarding remediation assistance. There are companies like Eco Bear that have strong backgrounds in hoarding remediation and cleanup.
Develop a Reasonable Plan of Action
In conjunction with engaging professional support and assistance on behalf of your sibling, you need to work with your brother or sister and assembled professionals to undertake long term planning to prevent a relapse into hoarding behavior in the future. This plan need not be complicated, but it must be thorough. It needs to include a relapse prevention element to provide guidance if your sibling appears to be sliding into behaviors that have the potential to lead towards hoarding yet again. This likely includes ongoing therapy or counseling in regard to hoarding disorder issues.
Think About the Future
As has been stated previously, hoarding disorder is recognized mental health condition. Therefore, one of the important tactics to employ to support a sibling with this disorder is to have a focus on the future. An important objective of supporting a person dealing with hoarding disorder is not only to assist them in finding more immediate care and assistance but to plan for the future as well.
This typically involves ensuring that an individual with hoarding disorder has a relapse prevention plan. It also usually means that at least for some period of time a person with this diagnosis has ongoing professional support and assistance. The reality is that in the absence of ongoing mental health support and assistance, the vast majority of people diagnosed with hoarding disorder will relapse.