Help, I have a hoarding father and I want to move out of my own place.

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I keep erasing this post before I finish it...start over...erase etc etc. I've never used a forum before, so I apologize if I'm not using the proper etiquette. I don't really know where to start, or if this is even the right place to. I don't even know if this will be read. I want to vent everything out, I want to scream to the whole world and I can't. I'm tired. I'm mad. I'm mostly mad. I'm very bitter. It's a recipe I hope will unleash some kind of fury where I go completely crazy and snap so I can collect myself and learn and move on but I don't ever snap...I think that scares me more. My 63 year old father has been living with us (my hubby, my 7 yr old son and I) for 6 months. He has a serious hoarding problem, he's had it his whole life, my mother as well, but they're divorced and hoarding separately. My mother likes to "hold on to things" in case they have a use later on. My father likes to find treasures at thrift stores and yard sales, he calls himself a "picker". But pickers usually sell their things and he just holds on to it, so that makes him a picker/collector/hoarder. Every day my father comes in with a bag or 2 of these "goodies". I've tried several things to get him to sell them, but he never bites. He gets agitated. I worry he'll get so angry with me he'll live on the streets. If you can imagine trying to find a place for 180 bags of assorted items, paintings, ornaments, wooden figurines, house hold appliances, electronics, trinkets, tea pots, Japanese pots, glassware, wooden boxes, carvings, etc etc etc etc, you can start to imagine my situation. He doesn't plan for his future. I was hoping he could stay with us while he gets back on his feet, but instead he's put his feet up and lived off us without saving a dime. Out of all the treasures he found...he hangs a 2 dollar dollarama 3d horse picture in my kitchen... He doesn't really help out financially, he's offered to buy the weekly groceries 3 times in 6 months. He does do the dishes most nights...but he never does them properly and we usually have to rewash them. I'd like to say he's trying...but that's stretching it.

Aside from his hoarding he also does not shower or bathe, he does not change his clothes and he's an alcoholic, a smoker (we quit over a year ago) and he refuses to take any kind of medication even if prescribed by his doctor. Though his drinking has dropped dramatically since he's stayed with us, I've yet to see him actually get drunk...but I have smelled alcohol on him. I grew up pretty rough with a lot of physical and mental abuse, and I have a lot of unresolved issues with both of my parents. We were actually put into foster care because of my parents hoarding and now that I have a son of my own, cleaning and planning have been a big deal for me. My son is my whole life, and I feel really stuck right now.

I'm angry that out of 6 older siblings who all have houses, high paying jobs, cars and extra rooms left me to deal with this on my own with only one income, no car in a small apartment that we just got by in the first place. I'm hurt because I'm a work from home mom so I could provide a constant stability for my son, so he could grow up in a different kind of home than I did, and my father is slowly but surely turning that home into the nightmare I escaped when I was 16.

I'm torn between wanting to take care of my dad and him being comfortable, and the realization that I can't do this and I need help. It's not fair to him or me or my family. I want him to be happy and healthy and he isn't that way here and I'm not either. I don't know what to do..I can't seem to have a heart to heart with him, he's very closed off. All I do know is that I feel like a prisoner in my little apartment watching my little home that I worked hard to create slowly become submerged in a sea of things that don't belong to me. This place feels less and less like home everyday.

Any advice out there? goes nothing, pressing submit...


Oh yes, I have advice, and I expect you'll get plenty. Many caregivers on this site have experiences similar to yours.

Maybe your sibs haven't taken on this responsibility because they are not letting their hearts overrule their heads. On this particular issue they may be behaving more rationally than you are.

Your father is an alcoholic, he smokes, he neglects his hygene, he hoards, and he refuses to take his medicines. And, oh yes, his childcare practices while you were growing up landed you in foster care. He was physically and mentally abusive.

Does that describe the situation pretty well?

And you decided to bring this 63 year old man into the home you are working so hard to make a clean, comfortable, nurturing place to raise your child, perhaps for the next 30 years.

What were you thinking??!!

You were probably thinking that you were doing the right thing, being the dutiful daughter, and that this might enable you build a better relationship with your father than you had while you were growing up.

Here is the reality: you can do those things WITHOUT having Father live with you. You gave it a good try for a half a year and IT IS NOT WORKING OUT. Be the dutiful daughter by helping Father find other suitable housing. Visit him. Have him over for dinner. Stay in touc. Don't live wiht him!!

What are his impairments that he can't live on his own? Help him find suitable support.

You can't take this six months, and you certainly aren't going to survive doing it until you are a grandmother yourself! Once we know your father's health status people will have suggestions for living arrangements.

Your parents did not put the welfare of their children high enough on their priorities (and/or didn't have the skills to do anything about that.) Don't make the same mistake. Focus on making a good, safe, home for your son and a happy family unit with husband and son.

Try not to resent your sibs because they had enough self-preservation skills to avoid this mess.

Good luck to you.

I agree with Jeanne 200 %. I would suggest that you check into senior living places. The kind that are for low income seniors and charge rent on a sliding scale. If you don't know about any in your area, contact your local Area on Aging or your local Department of Social Services and see what guidance they can give you.

Whatever your father's medical issues, he does not belong in your home!!! If you want to provide a good home for your son, you also need to be respectful of your marriage. What are your husband's feelings on this?

Your dad is only 63 years old. Yet he is putting the burden of a roof over his head on you and your family. He will be this way til the day he dies, so you need to realize that and make changes to protect yourself and your family. He didn't look out for you when you were a child and he won't do it now either. He has a mental illness and your mom probably does too. Don't make your child live in the environment your dad insists on creating.

What is your dad's financial situation. Does he get SS at this time in his life? Would your sibs chip in to get him into a low income senior unit?

Your dad may have mellowed over the years, but he is still abusing you. It's time that you protect your family, like you wish your parents would had protected you.

Best wishes, Cattails
Stop! Take a breath-there is help and you will get through this ordeal. The inside issues are not visiable. Please email me and I will link you to a link with the specialist of "hoarding". She says it is the need to be recognized for who we are, and this is the beginning of things gotten, things seen, or things still being purchased. It was a great inside to why we hoard and how families deal with the hoarder. Best regards, Linda Smith
Your dad needs to move out of your house! It doesn't sound like he has special health needs. You are far too young to have this responsibility. My husband & I are 61 & we take care of my dad. Why isn't your dad taking care of himself? It's not your fault or responsibility if he is an alcoholic. How does he support his hoarding? Don't ruin the rest of your life!
Wow, I wasn't expecting so many responses. Thanks for the advice, it's appreciated.

@ jeannegibbs - I ask myself that question almost every day. "what was I thinking??" My heart was in the right place, it had nothing to do with trying to get a better relationship with my father though. I passed that point in my life a long time ago. My father is not very smart with his money. When he lost his first job he went on a drinking binge and we didn't see him for nearly a year even though he lived within walking distance and we tried to visit often. He stopped paying his bills and rent and food, his power was cut, he was eating canned beans and heating it with a kerosene lantern until his landlord gave up on him and threw him out. He did live on the streets temporarily until he got shared housing. When he lost his last job, he also lost his apartment because he worked for the building he lived in and his apartment was covered with the job. He had no choice but to pay rent as they took it out of his pay automatically. But when he left, there were severe damages to the unit from his excessive hoarding. I doubt he'll be getting any landlord references. He got by with what little money they gave him as severance. Right now his income is from employment insurance and that should be running out soon, and we're planning on setting him up with disability until he is 65 and can qualify for his pension. His spine is really bad and he has nerve damage but is so stubborn and wont get set up with disability...we're still working on it though.

I understand he needs to go. I'm on the same page there! I just wanted to help him get back on his feet since he didn't even bother making any plans. So the big issue do I actually TELL him that in a gentle way? Better yet, how can I make that HIS idea? That would be nice:) wishful thinking maybe.

@ cattails - My husband supports me 100%, thankfully. It has been difficult for us both but he's had my back the whole way and I am incredibly grateful for that. He says he supports and respects my decision completely and just wants me to be happy. He agrees with me that he should be elsewhere, we're just trying to figure out how to approach that topic as gently as possible.

@AdVoCatabC456 - *breaths* Thank you so much for the advice. I'll contact you for that link, it's much appreciated. I'd like to understand more about his condition at least while we deal with moving forward.

@Lilygirl - I agree. I'm only 28, I'm still trying to figure out my own life and make a wonderful home for my son so that he has that stability and foundation that I never had. My husbands parents are all for us taking them in too. We'll be sure to nip that idea though.

Again, thank you all for the advice, I do appreciate it. It's nice to see there are some options I never thought of. My mother always tells me that I have to take care of her when she can't take care of herself. "I spent enough time changing your diapers, there's no reason you can't change mine" is her line. It's one of the biggest reasons I planned to go into a nursing home! :)
Well, there's no doubt that he needs to go. My dad has stock piled "treasures" too. The basement and the attic in the house I grew up in were piled high to the ceiling with just a path to cut through. My mother kept the rest of the house free from his debris thank god. I guess if I was in your position, I'd have to talk to Dad about maybe his needing a bigger place for his things and that I realize that it must be difficult for him to live with us, and that I'd help find him a place... Even if he threw out everything (which he never would), sadly, you still need him out.
You wanted to help him get back on his feet. Is he on his feet? Is he saving? Is he making plans? Hmmm ...

Is he cooperating with your plan for him to apply for disability payments? What is his disability? Three of my relatives are on disability -- two middle-aged men and a young woman. It is an extremely helpful program for those who need it and qualify for it. The application process takes months. Has Father started it?

Subsidized housing is also a wonderful option for those who need it and qualify for it. Again, it requires an application process and there is often a waiting list.

I don't know why your father cannot hold a job. Could he be a real picker? That is, could he turn his hoarding into a souce of income? Could he sell his treasures at a flea market or to antique shops? Is that something he could get excited about?

If you can help him find housing, apply for disability or any other programs he might be eligible for, if you can point him in some directions for him to pursue for income, that will be a great gift and a good way to contribute to his care. But know this: His financial well being is NOT YOUR RESPONSIBILITY. Do you best to help him. Don't take it on as your job. Just help. (And a good source of help might be your county's Social Services department or the Aging helpline.)

And, since the brainwashing is starting so early, protect yourself against the idea that you are responsible for your mother in her old age. Sure, help her. But she too is not your day-to-day hands-on responsibility.

I am so glad you have a supportive husband and can enjoy a normal family life now. Keep it that way. Bye-bye Dad.

Obviously I don't know him from a few sentences, but my sense is he is not going to take gentle hints, and moving out is not likely to be his idea. Am I right?

Telling him that you were glad to give him a breather and help him get back on his feet, but that it is time now for him to have his own place is not going to be easy. It may be one of the most difficult things you've done this year. But you've grown up with difficulties. You CAN do this. Especially with the support of your husband.

Very best wishes to you!
There are support agencies out there with the aged and disabled persons who will assist with the seniors who want to work. Try linking to your state's support agencies by going to the state government and then try linking into the support an older parent going back to work, etc. Play around with the link. I will look also to see what is there for your supports and family issues with "going back to work", which is not always an easy fix-referral sources may be the best assistance.
I agree Judy. this isn't healthy for anyone, I do need him out. Your mother must have had quite a difficult task! I greatly respect that she could keep up with that. I'll try slipping that he may need his own space for his stuff since we can't really supply that for him. Great idea!

AdVoCat, I know he'd rather work. His back gives him trouble but I found an application to a Thrift store yesterday, so I'll look into that, thanks!

jeanne, He's not on his feet. He doesn't save. It's the big reason I'm so tired in the first place. It always feels like I take one step forward and 2 steps back.

When he first came yes, I absolutely encouraged him to be a professional picker. Why not turn a bad habit into a good one? I gave him my walk in closet to use as storage for his things when he moved in. He told me he wanted to sell his things. And so I helped him by showing him local antique shops to sell his stuff and local thrift stores to buy, I set him up with a business email...*slaps forehead* Well that was great, he started bringing stuff in but not out. Okay so I make some room for it while he gets a little stock and help him sell it! Great! *slaps forehead* Wonderful, but now he's just filling up the spaces and then some and still not selling. Okay so I show him the value of the stuff he brings in, surely the price will motivate him to sell something! *slaps forehead* I try to get him to sell it and he snaps at me. I encourage he sells it and he walks away. I flat out tell him he needs to stop bringing this stuff in if he can't move stuff out and he doesn't even acknowledge he hears me. Okay great, not working...I start cataloging his items for him for easy reference and sell prices and encourage the business idea...but he has yet to sell a single thing. So I step back, I take a good look around. I accept that this has gone beyond a wish to sell and is just plain old hoarding and he's looking for any excuse to justify it. This went on for several months before I ran out of energy to continue supporting his bad habit.

I've helped him with his health card, finding him a doctor, making the appointments, giving him information about the government offices in the area, trying to get his taxes done, my sister in law came right to our home to do them for free and he didn't even bother digging his required documents out of a box even though he had many days to get it, he just said he would get them done somewhere else and left. I've tried telling him what he needs and where to go to get it...not a shocker that months later he didn't get them done by anyone yet. When he put things off constantly I would call the offices directly and hand him the phone. He would hate waiting and hang up, say he's going to go to the office instead. LEAVE to go there and come back hours later with more stuff. I ask if he went, he says "no, I'll go tomorrow" or next week, or next year. So I guess it's safe to say he's not very cooperative.

It's hard with my busy life since I do have to work at home during the day, I am still a mother and a wife and I take care of most of the home things, cooking, cleaning, planning, budgeting etc. We still have plans as a family and soccer games to get ready for, we participate in fundraisers that have been time consuming lately, as well as our involvement with our community and parent council at my little guys school... to have to physically go WITH him to these places just to make sure he actually goes is another pain. However I know deep down that's likely the only way I can get him to do this, and I resent him a lot. He's had nothing but time to kill for the last 6 months, and this took me 2 days of coming back to - just to write.

I appreciate your encouragement, I can and I will do this! I'm glad I came here. My anger was misdirected at my family for not helping when it should have been at him for not doing anything when he is able. It surprisingly opened up my eyes so thanks for the help everyone! I'm going to make some phone calls!
Well, good luck! It sounds like you tried your best to help him and he ...well... he crapped on you. Sorry. It was my first thought. So, I guess if you start to feel guilty about starting the process to get him out, you should think about what he's done to you lately! I wonder if you might find some housing information for him before you talk? Like what's out there, how much, how quickly he could move in, etc. Or not. The faster you put the idea out there, the faster he'll be out, right? Do you think he'll fight you on it?

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