If you're helping a person suffering from hoarding addiction to clean up their lives, you'll need several pairs of sturdy rubber gloves, some waste carriers, and the patience of a saint. Most hoarders refuse to take charge of their situation until legal action is taken against them. The police or fire department will eventually issue heavy fines and deadlines to clean up or else face eviction. Some hoarders may even have their property condemned and deemed unliveable. Intervention most often occurs at this point where there are no other alternatives or places to hide.
Family and friends who wish to assist a hoarder should only do so with the assistance of professionals. Hoarding is not something that can be cured overnight, which is why the affected person will require support from several sources. The process can be emotionally draining for everyone involved, but the presence of a psychologist or therapist who specialises in dealing with the disease, and if necessary a hoarder cleanup crew that has dealt with similar cases, can help ease the process. There will be delays and conflicts, but with an outside mediator leading, these issues can hopefully be resolved so that work can resume.
A date and time limit must be set before proceeding with any cleaning efforts. Many hoarders will resist and attempt to postpone, but with the support of a team of professionals pre-scheduled to intervene, they will be forced into the process. Everything should be in place and prearranged beforehand such as renting rolloff dumpsters, alerting the city council, and having supplies handy. It helps to set up a clear method of work and organisation before commencing. Allow the person suffering from hoarding to set up three separate areas where items can be categorised as garbage, donation, or to keep. Start slowly with things that are of obvious little value (although even throwing out small bits of packaging or paper can trigger negative behaviour from the hoarder). As you work throughout the house, don't be afraid to question some of the choices of the hoarder. They may also try to retrieve things that have been thrown into the garbage.
Hoarders will suffer from many emotions during the process, which can include apathy, anger, sadness, embarrassment and even happiness. They may suddenly become agitated and snap at people, seeming to regress in minutes and refusing to trash anything more. In these situations, it is best to step back and give control to the psychologist or therapist. Many times they are able to aid the hoarder in changing perspective and can encourage them to return to the task at hand.
If finances are an issue, there are many government agencies that may be able to help with the upfront costs of the cleanup such as renting waste carriers, professional cleaning equipment, and the hourly costs of psychiatric assistance. Larger communities also often have support groups where further helping hands can be found that can help speed along the process or provide some insight and tips on how to best deal with the situation.