Brad and Thomas are brothers, born in Los Angeles. Brad has remained a Los Angeles resident while Thomas calls Santa Barbara home. Both men are now in their early sixties and have retired. Brad lives alone in a condo while Thomas and his wife share a single-family home.
About a year ago, Thomas learned that his brother Brad was having an issue with hoarding. This case study addresses how Thomas (and his wife) responded to Brad’s issues with hoarding and how they have attempted to help Thomas address his hoarding disorder.
Signs That Brad Was Hoarding
Thomas and his wife began to see changes in Brad’s behavior. In time, Brad’s brother and sister-in-law began to see specific signs that he potentially had become a hoarder. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has put forth a set of signs that a loved one is afflicted with hoarding disorder. The primary signs that a family member or other loved one may be a hoarder are:
- Inability to throw things away
- Stowing or storing items of no value
- Keeping stacks of paper of no value
- Difficulty making decisions
- Poor organization or lack or organization
- Excessive emotional attachment to random objects
- Shame about excessive accumulation of items
- Significant procrastination
- Limited (or even no) social interaction
- Impulsive purchases
- Unsafe and unsanitary living conditions
When Thomas and his wife became more focused on something amiss in Brad’s life was when he sharply limited contact with his family. This included no longer inviting family members and others over to his home.
Not long after Brad stopped having regular contact with people, Thomas made his way over to his brother’s home. With some persuasion, Brad let his brother enter into the home – but limited his brother’s movement to the entryway of the residence. It was during this initial and brief visit to Brad’s home that Thomas knew his brother was engaged in hoarding.
Thomas Sought Assistance in Approaching His Brother About Brad’s Life
Thomas knew very little about hoarding behavior. What he knew was primarily gleaned from television programs that highlighted the stories of hoarders. Because Thomas did not have a good foundation on the ins and outs of hoarding, he reached out to a therapist that specialized in treating women and men with hoarding disorder.
The therapist also had a background in working with family members and other loved ones of people diagnosed with hoarding disorder, experience in working with people like Thomas. The therapist was able to provide Thomas with important, fundamental information about hoarding. Above all, the therapist was able to educate Thomas on the fact that his brother seemed to be suffering from hoarding disorder, a bona fide mental health condition.
The therapist agreed to assist Thomas in determining how to best work with Brad (Thomas’ brother) in addressing what appeared to be hoarding behavior in Brad’s home. Ultimately, Thomas would explain that connecting with a mental health professional with a background in working with people with hoarding disorder was instrumental in getting his brother’s situation under control.
Thomas and Brad Developed a Joint Strategy
Thomas worked with Brad to develop a reasonable plan of action to address not only assistance for Brad’s condition but to ensure that Brad’s home was returned to a fully livable condition. The key to the brother’s working together to formulate a strategy was to ensure that, in the end, Brad was the ultimate decision maker. Thomas in no way attempted to co-opt his brother when it came to deciding the when, where, what, and how of addressing the various aspects associated with hoarding disorder. The brothers were able to communicate effectively with one another in the development of a workable action plan.
Use of a Hoarder Property Cleanup Service
As part of the strategy the brothers developed to aid Brad in getting beyond the ramifications of hoarding disorder, the brothers retained the services of a professional hoarder cleanup company. Pros like Eco Bear have the background, staff, equipment, and other resources necessary to undertake a complete hoarder property remediation. Eco Bear is capable of taking on even the most challenging and complex hoarding situation, all the while remaining understanding for and respectful to all individuals associated with the situation, including the person afflicted with hoarding disorder.
Long-Term Plan for Brad
Hoarding disorder does not cease to exist once the location of the hoard is cleaned up. Remember, it is a mental health condition and does not simply go away.
Understanding this reality, Thomas and the retained mental health professional worked closely with Brad to aid in the development of a long-term strategy for his hoarding disorder condition. This included a detailed, written relapse prevention plan that enumerated tools and resources for Brad. Happily, Thomas began helping his brother in regard to the matter of Brad’s hoarding disorder and three years have passed without any further recurrence.