If you a find yourself in a situation in which you’ve discovered your elderly mother or father is hoarding, you are far from alone. Each and every day, adult children across the United States are confronted with hoarding parents. In this regard, oftentimes these adult children of hoarders find themselves in need to convene a family meeting to determine what they can and should do in regard to a hoarding parent.
The reality is that if a family wants to provide something of a unified front in addressing the matter of a hoarding parent, relatives actually will find that they need to conduct more than one family meeting at the outset. There are three primary meetings that likely will need to be convened to discuss strategies for addressing a situation involving a parent who hoards:
- Initial meeting to learn more about hoarding and get family unified
- Follow up meeting to discuss possibility of an intervention
- Third session to develop a specific action plan
Even before the initial family meeting, adult children of an elderly hoarding parent are wise and advised to elicit the assistance of an experienced counselor or therapist who works with hoarders and their families. A mental health professional who specializes in working with hoarders and their families can be invaluable in assisting a family in coming together and developing a meaningful action plan to support and assist an elderly hoarding parent.
Initial Meeting: Educate Family Members and Get Them on the Same Page
An initial meeting between family members to address the matter of a hoarding elderly parent needs to have a focus on educating family members about hoarding disorder and getting them on the same page when it comes to a strategy to assist their mother or father. (This exchange between siblings can also be the first phase of a more comprehensive meeting between siblings about their parent with hoarding disorder.)
One of the key elements of this initial meeting is to ensure that siblings understand that their hoarding parent is afflicted with a recognized mental health condition. Hoarding disorder has been classified as a mental health condition since the early part of the 21st century.
In addition, during this initial session, family members of a person who hoards, or an individual with hoarding disorder, need to understand that their parent should not be blamed or shamed for the state of affairs. There needs to be a common understanding that their parent needs to be supported. Siblings need to come together in the development of an action plan to aid and assist their mother or father. (More discussion of an action plan follows in this article.)
Importance of a Mental Health Professional for Support and Assistance
When a family is coming together to assist a parent with hoarding disorder, they are wise to seek the assistance of a counselor or therapist that works with people with hoarding disorder. (This has been discussed to some degree a moment ago.)
A therapist or counselor can help a family facilitate an appropriate response to a situation involving a parent with hoarding disorder. A mental health professional can also assist the family of a parent with hoarding disorder determine whether or not some sort of intervention should be arranged with the parent in question.
Follow Up Meeting: Is a Family Intervention Feasible?
There are instances in which a family intervention with the parent identified as having hoarding disorder can be a beneficial and even effective step. Interventions can be challenging. For this reason, the family of a person with hoarding disorder should not make the decision to attempt a visitation lightly. The ideal course is for a family to include an experienced therapist or counselor in planning and conducting an intervention.
Involving a well-trained therapist or counselor in preparing for undertaking an intervention very well make the difference between success and failure. The fact is that the presence and involvement of an experienced mental health professional significantly enhances the odds of success when it comes to an intervention for a parent afflicted with hoarding disorder.
Action Plan Meeting: Who Will Do What?
Finally, during an action plan meeting, one task is to determine which family will do what when it comes to addressing the needs of a parent with hoarding disorder. Bear in mind that there may be certain family members who have the ability and background to take on more tasks associated with addressing a hoarding parent’s situation. In other words, the division of work should not be expected to be equal, depending on the specific situations at hand in regard to a parent with hoarding disorder. Despite the manner in which tasks are divided, the objective is to set up a structure whereby family members work as a team in support of a parent with hoarding disorder.