Part I got a little close to home for some of you? There’s more, perhaps some solutions.
Last week we wrote a blog about how people who have hoarding disorders can be less likely to create an estate plan than those who are not affected by the same problems. The more we looked at how common the problem compulsive hoarding is, and how difficult it can be to deal with it, the more we wanted to write a follow-up post to help those who might be affected. So, today we are going to take a look at how people can better identify those who have a hoarding disorder, and what you might be able to do to help a compulsive hoarder.
The Difference Between Collecting and Hoarding
A lot of people like to buy things and build collections. Going to estate auctions, garage sales, and thrift stores is a common pastime, and most of the people who engage in it are not hoarders. But what is the difference between a collector and a hoarder? While there is not always a clear dividing line, there are some significant differences.
A collector is someone who acquires property out of a sense of joy, accomplishment, or purpose. Collectors tend to seek out specific items because they are part of a theme or somehow related to each other. Collectors will maintain, repair, and display the items they have acquired, and many of them will go to great lengths to inventory or keep detailed records about them. Collectors also tend to take pride in their collections, talking about them with others, joining groups of like-minded people, and learning details and histories of the items they so enjoy.
Someone with a hoarding disorder, on the other hand, doesn’t typically exhibit the same traits the collector does. Hoarders don’t usually display their items, nor do they typically talk about them with any sense of pride of accomplishment. In fact, hoarders often feel distressed or overwhelmed by their possessions, while at the same time feeling the need to acquire even more. Hoarders can often be embarrassed about the mass of items they own, and be reluctant to invite others into their living environment. Beyond that, people with significant hoarding disorders will often experience lifestyle changes or even health problems because they have so much.
Getting Help for a Hoarder
A compulsive hoarder can often have difficulty seeking out help and changing his or her behavior. The emotions surrounding the hoarding desire can be strong, and difficult to deal with, even if there is a desire to improve one’s life.
Some basic steps that can help alleviate the need to acquire and keep property include first, talking about it. Sometimes the behaviors that look like hoarding are simply not having an organizational system…knowing where to put things. If someone is “clinging” it may be hoarding. If they are stacking, it may be a habit acquired out of not knowing where to put the items. Talk to your loved one about it. Try to learn what’s really driving the behavior. Also, learning stress relief techniques or relaxation strategies can help as can learning new decision-making skills. Developing a way to manage, categorize, and determine what items to keep and throw away can also be helpful. That’s the organizational piece. Hoarding can seem overwhelming to those who are afflicted. Sweeping it under the rug, won’t solve the problem.
Beyond that, people with compulsive hoarding disorders can often find help through group therapy, as well as one-on-one therapy sessions with a trained psychologist or psychiatrist.
Contact an Oklahoma Estate Planning Attorney
For additional information, please join us for an upcoming FREE seminar. If you have additional questions or concerns about a relative or loved one who may be affected by a hoarding disorder, contact an experienced Oklahoma City estate planning attorney at Parman & Easterday by calling 405-843-6100 to schedule your appointment today.