How To Help A Family Member Who Hoards

Elise Purkis – Professional Organiser Geelong

Elise has years of experience helping to declutter and organise people’s living spaces and workplaces.  In this article, she goes a little deeper and offers some relevant advice designed to get the hoarder you know to come out of the closet.


Are you the spouse, child or parent of a hoarder Geelong?

If you have a family member or someone close to you who exhibits hoarding tendencies, you may already know too well the signs of hoarding and the effects that can stem from this.

According to research by the International OCD Foundation, materials like newspapers, books, clothing and containers are common items to hoard while foodstuffs (including expired products), craft supplies and junk mail may be others.

Hoarding Affects More Than Just The Hoarder

Often considered a ‘hidden’ illness, hoarding is not so hidden to those who occupy the same dwellings, or to close family or friends.

Research published in 2013 by the Department of Health in Victoria  suggests that hoarding can affect 2 to 5 % of the population, with an estimated 11,000 Geelong Hoarders.

Clearly, this is a bigger problem than just the person who hoards, with health-related effects of hoarding potentially affecting all who live in the household.

Blocked pathways can add increased risks of tripping, slipping and falling, as well as being a fire hazard too.

Hoarding behaviours could also be putting the welfare of any children in the household at risk, as well as animals.

Then, there’s the strain it can bring on relationships.

Living with a hoarder can be a traumatic experience – both emotionally and physically. Family members affected by this should consider seeking professional help themselves.

Essentially, as hoarding goes on, a home or parts of it can become more and more non-functional… in the end, often resulting in an ‘unlivable’ space.

Be Empowered

According to the International OCD Foundation, there are two behaviours which characterise hoarding.

  1. Acquiring too many possessions
  2. Difficulty discarding or getting rid of possessions when they are no longer useful or needed.

Sometimes what looks like hoarding may not be hoarding but instead chronic disorganisation or excess clutter.

While a hoarder will see value in every item, fear loss of items and potentially exhibit behaviours like compulsive shopping, those affected by chronic disorganisation will genuinely make attempts to organise but may fall behind due to factors like lack of energy or chronic health conditions.

Someone who is chronically disorganised may recognise their problem but feel powerless to change things.

The Institute for Challenging Disorganization (USA) is a valuable resource for the topic of chronic disorganisation.

Talk To The Professional Mental Heath Services and Professional Organisers.

If your loved one resists seeking help for their problem, you can always begin the process by going first to a relevant professional, like a qualified psychologist, or start the cleanup by using a Professional Organiser who specialises in Geelong Hoarder cleanups.

This will likely give you some tips or strategies for beginning the dialogue on getting the help.

Begin A Conversation With Your Loved One

At some stage, there will be need to sit down and have a conversation with your loved one about hoarding – and moving forward in this.

Be patient: this may be a slow process… and trust is hugely important here.

There’s Help Available

For the family members and those close to the person hoarding, it can feel like a lonely and frustrating place… but please know that there is help and resources available. Check in with your local government council as there may be a list of helpful local resources available.

Here at UnKluttered Life, we are glad to work in with psychologists who may be involved, as well as other professionals like social workers.

We recognise the underlying emotional aspects of this condition and know that engaging in therapy with a qualified psychologist is necessary to treat the root of the problem.

When it comes to the actual organising itself, we consider what we do as a ‘supportive hoarder clean out’.

Please get in touch to arrange a free consultation to learn how UnKluttered Life can assist regarding your professional organising needs.

Based in Geelong, we work in surrounding areas like Ballarat, Warrnambool, Melbourne and Hamilton. We also work Australia wide.

Yours sincerely,

Geelong Professional Organiser – Elise Purkis



Hoarding and squalor / The Department of Health in Victoria

International OCD Foundation Hoarding Center (USA)

The Institute for Challenging Disorganization (USA) 

Beyond Blue, Phone 1300 22 4636