Family Member Hoarding Support
Do you know or care about someone who collects items excessively to the point that a space is no longer able to be used for its intended purpose?
Are you concerned about the safety and well-being of a family member who collects excessively?
Do you feel the stress of a declining relationship due to hoarding?
...You are not alone.
What is hoarding?
Hoarding is a mental illness exhibited through excessive acquiring and failure to discard large numbers of possessions that may appear useless or of limited value to an onlooker. The result is overrun living spaces that may make even beds and sinks unusable. Similar to an addiction, hoarding behaviors can be managed.
What are the impacts of hoarding?
Relationships between those that hoard and those who care for them can be complicated. Keeping the hoarding a secret is emotionally draining and isolation often results. People that hoard may distrust those who want to remove or manage their belongings without their consent. Often a relationship focuses on the hoarding rather than on what really matters – the personal connection between individuals. Families may think the reason behind the hoarding is laziness, a desire to be difficult or just simply that the hoarder doesn't care. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Someone who hoards does not do so by choice. Family and friends of those who hoard are JSSA’s focus.
How can JSSA help?
In 2011, JSSA learned there were no local support programs designed specifically for family members and close friends of people that collect excessively. As a result, we have developed the first such program in the metro DC area. Currently, JSSA offers telephone support, periodic email support and a monthly support group. For more information, please contact Beth Shapiro, LCSW-C, at 301.816.2665 or email@example.com.
What are some caregiver coping strategies for someone who hoards?
The following tips can help cope with the emotional rollercoaster of caring for someone who hoards:
- Adjust your expectations. If you expect that the space will be cleared out because you will help, your expectations may be too high. Your primary focus should be on making the areas around the stove, the bathroom and the egress safe.
- Concentrate on quality time together. Find enjoyable activities completely unrelated to the hoarding – going for walks, cooking a favorite recipe, or attending a performance, for example.
- Differentiate between your feelings and your loved one’s feelings. You may be the one who longs to purge excess objects. But real change can only occur if the desire comes from the person who hoards.
- Leave cleanup to professional organizers. If an adversarial or unresolvable situation arises, it happens outside the family.
- Keep a journal of your feelings. This will relieve stress, help you let go of negative feelings and acknowledge how hoarding interferes with your life.
- Read more JSSA Family Hoarding Support Tips and Strategies
JSSA Support Groups
Family Member Monthly Hoarding Support Group
JSSA offers a monthly support group for those who have a relative with hoarding behaviors. Co-sponsored by the Gaithersburg Task Force on Hoarding, families and significant others meet in a friendly, confidential environment facilitated by a JSSA clinical social worker
with experience in the areas of hoarding and working with family caregivers.
When: Monthly, 4th Tuesday; 6:00-7:30 p.m.
Where: 6123 Montrose Road, Rockville
Facilitator: Beth Shapiro, LCSW-C
Cost: $15 per session
One time pre-registration required: 301.816.2665
Hoarding Resource Books
- Buried in Treasures: Help for Compulsive Acquiring, Saving, and Hoarding by David F. Tolin, Randy O. Frost, Gail Steketee
- Digging Out: Helping Your Loved One Manage Clutter, Hoarding and Compulsive Acquiring by Michael Thompkins and Tamara Hartl
- Overcoming Compulsive Hoarding: Why You Save and How You Can Stop by Fugen Neziroglu, Jerome Bubrick, and Jose A. Yaryura-Tobias
- Compulsive Hoarding and Acquiring: Therapist Guide & Workbook by Gail Steketee and Randy O. Frost
- What Every Professional Organizer Needs to Know About Hoarding by Judith Kolberg
- Conquering Chronic Disorganization by Judith Kolberg
- Stuff: Compulsive Hoarding and the Meaning of Things by Randy O. Frost and Gail Steketee
JSSA accepts cash, checks, Visa, MasterCard and American Express. JSSA accepts most major insurance for clinical services, as well as Medicare and Maryland Medicaid (JSSA does not accept DC or Virginia Medicaid). A reduced fee may be available for those clients without insurance or for services not covered by insurance based on financial need.
Other JSSA services include: