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


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...

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My heart goes out to you!
I am familiar with what you describe.
I am going to speak very pointedly.
Some folks reading this might feel it is harsh.
I make no explanation, except that there are signals in your post that may indicate your situation is more dire than you might think at this moment.
This is YOUR LIFE you are now fighting for
You cannot afford to waste a moment stuck in falling apart emotionally--you already spent some time yelling and crying--now take some actions to help yourself and your family.

From your description, he is in NO position to take care of himself, and has not been for a long time.
What you describe of him includes complicated mental illness, and that you have been co-dependent or assisting it to continue, of sorts, for most of your life.
--that is, you fell for his stories hook, line, and sinker all this time.
NOW your blinders are off, and you get to see SOME of what's been going on.
He has shown he cannot make rational nor good nor decent decisions,
nor order his life in any way that is healthy.
You have NO idea what else he may have been hiding from you for decades.
You have not a clue about his actual debts, relationships, or other habits, nor his past--for he will not have honestly disclosed anything to you.
That is all part of his illnesses.
Your blinders are off now, it is up to you to take corrective actions.

You must get as much help as you can, to remedy things as soon as you can, to HELP YOU. He's in the hospital...there are staff there to help him. HELP YOURSELF--like putting on an oxygen mask first, so you can better help others.
In this case, you help yourself, so you can help your kids.

Schedule a lawyer appointment with Area Agency on Aging.
OR, seek out a low cost or sliding scale legal aide nearest you. In WA State, that is NW Justice Project in Seattle--I am guessing there are similar groups in other States.
IF you cannot find one call Welfare office, and ask them to help you find legal aide.
Can someone help you sort out what needs done first--you have just learned part of what your spouse has been doing for decades, and you fear for your safety, and for your children--even if they are adults, this will adversely affect them, to learn what Dad has been up to for so long.
---Can he be declared incompetent, so you can take care of what needs taken care of? [show them pictures of the worst messes, and write up a document describing your life's story with him].
---Take witnesses willing to testify or write statements, to the locations, to show them.

Make reports to police so there are formal documents.
His behaviors have been abusive towards you and likely to family
---you have no clear picture of how that has been, because it seems as though you have had a veil over your eyes about his behaviors, until you saw that "trap line" property.
While he may NOT have INTENDED to, it ended up being so.
People who are mentally ill, may have "impulse control" issues, that goad them into doing things they would never do if they were in their right mind.
Unfortunately, their family members suffer deeply from the consequences of those behaviors.

His fearing you to the extent of having his finger on the call button ready to force you away from him, is a strong sign that he has much on his mind causing abject fear
--and he most fears that what he has habitually been doing for decades will come to light, that he is virtually helpless to stop others from learning of, at this point.
Document what you find, and what you can remember for decades of his behaviors, by writing "one-liners", keeping it as short and to the point as possible. Keep emotions out of it as much as possible--just state facts..

Submit your documents to the Police by way of a formal report of spousal abuse, and to your Social Worker and lawyer.
--you can rightfully fear for your safety, even in the state he is in right now--because you have no idea who he has been using that cell phone to contact, nor what else he has been cooking up, reacting to his inner fears.

You got sucked into his "rabbit hole" for far too long.
You can choose to make healthy changes--help yourself learn to have a better life.

Since he has been doing these things for decades,
you have no idea how much ELSE he has been hiding.
He had you bring him a pre-paid cell phone so he can continue to run whatever he's been doing behind your back, some more?!
Do NOT Refill that!
IF it is in your name, cancel it.
He can use the hospital phone so calls can be on records, and therefore subpoenaed !

Get legal help, fast.
You need it, badly.
Call a Social Worker, talk to police, talk with a lawyer.
Report what he has subjected you to for so long, and you fear for what he is currently trying to maneuver that could cause you and your kids further harm.
If you have any resources, you need to take steps to get them into your name ASAP--if he has not yet lost them for you.
IF there are retirement funds, you will need to take steps to make sure they are there fore you when your retirement comes--
IF he was in military and got retirement, or can get it later, you as his wife, are entitled to that ONLY IF he has signed paperwork to list you as his wife of record, for instance. IT has to be signed by him, as they will not help you once he dies.
Search your family financial records AND Credit Reports on him and you, to find what is there, and take steps to protect those, immediately.
He sounds like he is very close to doing foolish things with whatever he has his name on right now, and can access via cell phone.
You need to learn if he has been using your data to get loans, or whatever else.

You DO have at least one other choice, IF he has not compromised your data and credit rating [one of my friends actually did this]:
---You could opt to walk away--take your name off everything it is on with him, walk away and start over from scratch.
Disconnect with him, his debts, his messes, and whatever else he has kept secret from you.

But you do have 2 children--both adults?
A severely autistic child, regardless of age, needs care-giving, not let our spouse deprive him of that support!
One or both of the children need to know what has been going on.
See everything with their own eyes.
Keep informed as best able.
They may have ideas about what they want done, too.
[I am not familiar with your son's level of ASD, but it has been a blessing for me, to hear my ASD son dishing wise, helpful words that have been supportive when least expected!]
But at least your daughter needs kept in the loop, and needs to see what Dad's been doing.
She might also have rational suggestions.

Folks on this list are supportive, have big hearts, lots of compassion, and collectively, lots of useful information.
But each of us has to do our own work at getting the helps we need.
Some of us have let life slip by us while ignorant of what was about to hit us, and then have to figure things out very fast.

We can cheer you on, and "hand hold" via computer.
We want those who come here for help, to find it, and keep safe!

I dearly hope you find good help!


I have been thinking about Sleepy lately and was excited to see a post. Sorry to read about your situation Anon1, like the other posters have suggested, you might want to start another thread and you will be sure to find others responding directly to your situation with wonderful advice and comments. This is an old thread discussion and you may not have as many people reading it than if you started one of your own. You will also help others who are in your same situation that will benefit too if you start a dedicated discussion. Good luck and I hope your life grows happier.

Hey, Sleepy, how is it going? Are you making headway and getting your life back? Please give us an update, I know there are many others worried and interested in your progress.

Hope all is well and you are getting your home and life in order so you can find peace and happiness once again!! Hugs!

Anon: If you go up to the top of this page and click on Caregiver Forum, you can choose, "Start A Discussion" . You will get more responses with your own thread.

Let me just say that things will get better. Rome wasn't built in a day and if you've been at it for 3 months with your home, I'm sure you already know that time you'll have to take it a step at a time. I'm glad to hear you have friends coming next Tuesday to help you.

At this point, I would agree with Judy that it does not make sense to talk to your husband about the frustrations you have with his life long hoarding problem. He's not mentally able to see it the way you do. This hoarding compulsion is a mental illness. So I think it is kinder and wiser to let him die in peace rather than upsetting him with things he can't change or really understand.

It sounds like your marriage has been an unhappy one. Maybe you stayed in it because of your mom's need for care and your son's need for care. Does your son still live with you?

You haven't wasted your life. You are young at 51 years old and a new reality and way of living is coming your way. Take it a day at a time. It will be ok. Are you worried about your financial situation? Does your husband have some life insurance? Are his medical costs covered? How old is your husband and when was he diagnosed?

I'm asking you these questions because I think they can also add some understanding of your being so overwhelmed with the state of his hoarding?

Maybe we can talk about a few things before you post your question or discussion. Sending you love and support, Cattails

Anon1... have you thought about making your own thread with your story so others can see your post and try to help?

Wow,'ve got a lot on your plate. I think if I were you, I'd be extremely angry as well, but I guess I wouldn't rock the husband's boat too much. It doesn't do much good to rattle him about what he can't control anymore. I guess I'd be doing the clean up and not letting him know what I was doing. There has got to be somewhere to call, whether its city or town government, who can direct you to a clean-up service, or provide one? I'm not much help here. I guess the thing that struck me was.... why are you even involving your husband at this point? I'd just make myself happy and get it all cleaned up somehow without ever letting on that I was doing it. I'm hoping that your name is on the deeds to the house in town and to the cabins. I'd hate for you to be cleaning it all up if he's got some plan to leave it to a friend (who appreciates his vehicles). I could be all wrong in my impressions and thoughts. Please post again and tell us how things progress. Good luck!

Oh I am so glad I found this. My husband has terminal cancer, colon cancer that has spread to his liver, lungs, and abdomen. He is in palliative care in the local hospital. Now he has been verbally, emotionally, and financially abusive to me for 26 years. We have a trapline/woodlot with cabins as well as a home in town. I never go out to the trapline/woodlot because my husband invites people to come and stay out there all the time. Well recently I went to check on things and I ended up crying for 8 hours and screaming for another two! He has hoarded over acres and acres! (Picture 30 years of the absolute worst hoarding you can ever imagine) There are old clunkers, junk galore, you name it is there. I don't know how I will ever even begin to clean it up or afford to get someone to do so. I am so angry that I can't even go and visit him. The house in town I have been working on cleaning for three months already, some stuff I can't get rid of until he passes as he is still able to have day passes out of the hospital. He has saved old fence boards and stacked them, I went to remove them the day before yesterday and there are ants, maggots, beetles all over them. I went to the hospital and asked him if there was ANY vehicle that ran so that I could get rid of them. The house is falling down around me, and I am trying to repair it the best I can. There is a new bath tub that has been sitting in the hallway for over a year because the carpenters in this town were booked, so he said. I have friends coming to start work on the house on Tuesday. His answer was no to the vehicle to remove stuff and not to upset him because he is dying, and he kept his thumb on the call button to contact the nurse to get me out of the room. Mourn for him, how can I when he doesn't give a hoot? He has a cell phone that I took him and calling cards. He could be getting someone to come in and help me clean this mess up, but all he can do is call his family and friends and worry about his vehicles. He is so proud that he found someone to repair an old vehicle he has. I am DONE, I have given him all I can give and then some! I went from being a caregiver to my mother, to my severely autistic son, to my husband with no break in between. Ok, yes, I KNOW this is only temporary and that his death is permanent, but I am 51 years old now and I have wasted my life. The only thing I have to show for it are my two children. My daughter is going for a double masters degree and has done very well. Sorry for venting and rambling. I just had to let it out. Thanks. I just wanted to let you know that you're not alone dealing with a hoarder and being put in a situation and wanting out of it.

Sleepy I am so proud of you taking action to make things better for you family-I know it was hard for you to do but you went ahead and did it-the rest should be easier-keep us posted on how things progress and I hope you stay with us after this gets settled -your insight will be valueable to others going through troubles.

Hi again, Sleepy!

First, I want to say CONGRATULATIONS!!!! You are taking wonderful steps in making this happen and getting your home back!! I am sooo proud of you!!!! GOOD GOING!!! Your plan this time has substance and, more importantly, motion. FANTASTIC!!!

Secondly, I need to apologize for not realizing you do not live in the United States and are dealing with an entirely different set of regulations. Red tape and paperwork is always a quagmire, even under the best of circumstances. I hope you are making further headway getting it all in order. Hard enough dealing with your father and then compound the governmental hoo-ha and ones mind and spirit can take a beating.

I am so happy you spoke with your father and especially encouraged to hear he, for the time being, is not fighting you and, so far, in agreement with the plan. Have you started previewing available housing for him? That way, you can eliminate later “together” legwork, by having pre-screened, suitable, apartments lined up to show him. It might reduce excuses and a possible balk.

Your husband is a keeper!!! But, you already know that. His support and assistance are a Godsend and it has to be bringing you closer working on this as a team.

No doubt, it is extremely difficult to take a stand such as this and you are correct, not as easy as telling a roommate they need to leave because the situation just isn’t working, but it is every bit as crucial, even more so, reclaiming your space, home and life from a parent.

You have made a positive turn on this journey of twisting and winding roads. There will be many more forks bringing this to fruition and reclaiming your home. But, it must be so nice getting off the gravel road and onto smoother pavement. Pretty soon you will be driving along a beautiful highway! Just keep yourself headed in the right direction and don’t allow your father to drag you off on his side streets any more, they are not pretty places to visit and only delay your journey.

STAND STRONG!!!! You are an amazing woman, wife and mother!!! It makes my heart sing knowing you are tearing down that brick wall and using the bricks to rebuild your fabulous new home and life. Use your strongest mortar so he can’t blow it down again!

Thank you for the heartwarming update, keep them coming!! We are here for you, understand each bump in your road, and relish in its smoothness and your progress.

A million hugs, tour de force congratulations and prayers for a happy, healthy and magnificent life to come!!

Wow, Sleepy. Great job. I'm impressed. After your previous post, I was kind of sweating this for you, like you might not be able to talk to your dad. I mean, really, what a hard thing to discuss with anyone, let alone a parent. I have to admit, while I read this last post of yours, I was smiling. If we lived closer, I'd want to give you a hug and a pat on the back. Well done. You've let him gently know. Strong woman.

Sleepy, thank you so much for the update! You did WONDERFULLY! I'm so glad for you that this first hardest part is over. More to come and it won't be easy, but now you know you can do it!

Do keep us posted.

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