Television programs brought the subject of hoarding to the attention of the general public in the past 20 years. Despite the fact that more and more people appreciate that hoarding exists, a considerable majority of people from across the country lack an accurate understanding of what hoarding is all about. This includes the fact that most people really do not understand what to do if they face a situation in which a loved one is hoarding. For example, if you have a sister or brother that is a hoarder, there are five things you need to avoid doing or saying in relation to your sibling:
- Shaming or embarrassing your sibling
- Blaming or accusing your brother or sister
- Making demands of your sibling
- Taking action without the consent of your sibling
- Ignoring the situation
What Is Hoarding?
Before diving deeper into what you need to avoid when your sibling is hoarding, you need to have an understanding of what is meant by hoarding itself. At the beginning of the 21st century hoarding was recognized as a treatable mental health condition. Technically, what laypeople refer to as hoarding is medically known as hoarding disorder.
Don’t Shame Your Sibling
When you have a sibling afflicted with hoarding disorder, you need to avoid embarrassing that person, you need avoid shaming him or her for his or her situation. As was just mentioned, hoarding disorder is a mental health condition. It is a brain disorder. You likely would not shame a person for having some sort of other physical health condition. At least, you should not engage in that type of conduct. In the same way, you absolutely should not shame your sister and brother for suffering from hoarding disorder.
Avoiding shaming a sibling actually extends beyond not blaming them or chiding them for their situation. It includes not broadcasting their plight to others, including other family members. In nearly all cases, a person suffering from hoarding disorder hides their situation for one or two primary reasons:
- First, they are already embarrassed by the situation and don’t need you to add to that emotional burden.
- Second, they believe that what they are doing is appropriate, positive conduct. (For example, they believe they are protecting valuable items from being taken by someone else.) Thus, they historically have been motivated to keep their hoarding conduct private.
Don’t Blame Your Sibling
On a somewhat related note, don’t blame your sibling for hoarding. Don’t blame your sister or brother for being afflicted with hoarding disorder. Again, as was noted a moment ago, hoarding disorder is a bona fide mental health condition. It’s doubtful you would blame a sibling for contracted brain cancer or any other physical illness, disease, or condition. Similarly, you accomplish nothing beneficial by blaming your brother or sister for finding themselves afflicted with hoarding disorder.
Don’t Make Demands of Your Sibling
When your sibling suffers from hoarding disorder, you accomplish little or even make matters worse if you make demands of them. For example, if you demand that your sister or brother “get that home cleaned up in a week,” you will not achieve the result of an end to hoarding. Rather, you will isolate your sibling from you and likely make your brother or sister’s hoarding disorder and its complications even worse.
Don’t Take Action Without Consent
When a sibling suffers from hoarding disorder, a natural response is to take matters into your own hands. You may understandably feel that diving in and cleaning up your sibling’s home without there agreement is for their own good.
The net effect of taking action in this way when a brother or sister has hoarding disorder typically is making the situation even worse. The sibling will be angry with you and is apt to cut off contact. Moreover, even if you manage to somehow get the sibling’s house in a livable and safe condition, the sister or brother nearly always will start the process of accumulating items – even trash – all over again. In little to no time, the house will again be cluttered, unkept, even in shambles.
Don’t Ignore the Situation
Finally, when it comes to things to avoid when your sibling hoards, no one is well-served if you elect to ignore the situation. Odds are next to nil that your sibling’s hoarding disorder will end on its volition and in a short period of time. Rather, appropriate intervention is the order of the day.
This includes assistance and support from a mental health professional. It also includes professional assistance from a hoarding cleanup company like Eco Bear. Eco Bear has trained professionals who understand how to remediate a hoarding situation and return a property to a safe and livable condition. In addition, the team of professionals at Eco Bear understand the unique needs of a cleanup that involves a person with hoarding disorder.