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My mother is a hoarder. I've been able to clean up most of the house, but there is one room that is a major stronghold. Today I invaded that room. There was mouse poop everywhere. It was dry, so may be from days gone by. But knowing there is such a filthy room in the house makes my skin crawl. I brought it up with my mother and she just shrugged it off.

This is such a problem with hoarding. Is there disease lurking in the back room? Yuck. Before I got here, the two rooms that I live in now had been hoarded. We had to hire someone to clear them. There was mouse poop and food remnants everywhere here, too. Fortunately, no more mice. Yesterday my mother was talking about how they had just closed off these two rooms after my little brother left 30 years ago and had just used them for storage. She talked like it is what everyone does. I just said, "Mom, that's not normal." I wanted to say that I knew she was just too lazy to try to keep things clean.

We've been having some house work done this week and I've taken the opportunity to un-hoard several carloads of stuff. Donated! I try to be calm, but I realize that I am spending my life trying to undo 60+ years of lazy. I get so angry. That makes me feel bad.

Last week Mom's PCP suggested she see a geriatric psychiatrist to help her with her chronic anxiety. It has been a lifelong thing that has gone untreated except for pill popping. I'm sure her doctor also wanted to address the depressive OCD symptoms. My mother got extremely offended and doesn't want to see the doctor anymore. She later told me, "I'm not crazy!" I wanted to tell her if there was a poster child for crazy, then she would be it.

Pondering and dreading the mouse poop war that I know lies ahead.

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I'm not a psychiatrist, but my understanding is that if you clean the hoarded items away that the person is most likely to fill the home back up with more hoarded things -- that cleaning it out doesn't solve the problem. So, the psychiatrist is paramount.

But my own mother is resistant to a lot of things. If I were to try to get her to a psychiatrist, I know she'd insist she's not crazy and resist. As a different example, she is so weak, has lost so much muscle mass, and so prone to falling that I have appointments to a physical therapist and an occupational therapist for her. But she insists she doesn't want to exercise. She insists it will be like gym class and that she doesn't want to wear bloomers. Some days are better than others. The resistance to change and to being what they think of as criticized is strong in many people, so they are going to do their best to push back on those of us that are caregivers.

But my mother did also have anxiety as a symptom of her thyroid problems and initially did not want to take the pills. We found ways to explain to her why she needed to take them that made her realize she wasn't a pill-popping nut job for doing it. In the end, we got her to take the pills and, once she was less anxious, pointed-out that she was much more lucid. She didn't recognize it, but we pointed to things like her messed-up checkbook as evidence that she hadn't been "all together" for awhile. She recognized her own handwriting, could hardly believe it, but it helped it all sink in that she had truly had a problem.

So, if you can focus on the least threatening part of this as an excuse to see the psychiatrist, maybe you can get her mom there, and to explain it has nothing to do with being crazy but that it's necessary to help her with her anxiety, which is really affecting her life so badly (or whatever symptom you see that is terrible but that she could see as an actual thing to truly fix).
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I am rather ashamed that I've been here for 4 years and haven't been able to address cleaning up that room. I forgive myself, though. Yesterday afternoon I was cleaning the kitchen, getting the worker's dust and chips up, and she started yelling that I was driving her crazy. I told her I was just cleaning like I always do, and she told me I never clean. The truth is that I spend much of my life cleaning, but haven't been able to penetrate her final bastion (the mouse poop room). The room comes off of her bedroom, so there's no easy access.

I just took a tour of the rest of the house. It looks pretty good until you get to my mother's bedroom door. I have to pat myself on the back occasionally. With what I an working with, I've done a good job. I'm coming to the realization that my mother would rather live alone. She hates me and resents me being here, I'm sure. Mostly I think I'm doing something wrong to make her so unhappy. But then I see her push others away and live in a chaos of filth and know it isn't me. The only question I have for me is what in the world am I doing here. I must be a crazy person.
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I would call in the professionals to deal with it. Goodness knows what's lurking in that room in the form of mice, rats and insects. Even if you don't see them, if the place is that bad there are probably rats. When I first moved in here, having stripped out all the stinking dog peed carpets, it was mouse city and one morning I found rat poop on the kitchen counter. With 2 dogs and 4 cats it was soon by-bye mousies and I've been working ever since sealing the place up.
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Jessie. The poop I can deal with it is the little dead bodies and scurrying across the ceiling that freaks me out. Call in the hazmat team, that's the only way to keep your sanity. If you can stand the smell throw moth balls at the problem areas. A few in your rooms as well wouldn't hurt. I even put them in the kitchen drawers too.
Another way is to hire a dumpster (they are not as expensive as you may think) and promise all the strong people you know a pizza and beer party. If you don;t have friends like that try a local college or even a scout troop. When the rooms are clean wash down with bleach (1 cup to 5 galls water) and repaint. Also replace carpet or hire a professional steam cleaner outfit. As it is an older house you may find good wood floors which you can sand and reseal or even paint if you are into that kind of stuff.
Then you have to go round and mouse proof the entire house. Find every little hole they can be getting in and stuff steel wool or seal with mortar. Gaps under doors can be filled by attaching a door sweep. Seal round windows with caulking. it's a lot of tedious work but it does get rid of unwelcome guests. Don't bother buying electronic devices they don't work or using poison which does work if you can stand the smell of rotting bodies in your walls
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Mice poop is not good for you, wear a mask and gloves. You could end up with Hantavirus, a nasty respiratory infection, or Salmonella from the poop.
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Eyerish, the room is lined with shelves filled with books. There is a lot of poop on the shelves. It makes me nervous. I don't want to handle or breathe it, so am considering bringing a professional cleaning crew in -- the kind that wear full suits. The room looks like a huge closet now, with clothes, blankets, old pillows, everything in the world in it, so it's hard to even work my way to the shelves of mouse poop & books. I am usually a can-do person, but I'm getting to the point of can't-do-anymore. It's time to bring in the big guns.
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I can get my mind around a lot of things and understand how certain mental disorders could interfere with someone's life but hoarding has me stumped. I just don't get it. I know it's a mental disorder and is treated as such by the mental health community but as a card-carrying neat freak I can't understand it. I used to throw the mail onto the kitchen table when I came in and announce to my daughter: "Look! I'm a hoarder!"

In theory I understand that it's a disease. All of that crap people hang onto fills an emotional void of some sort. Ok. I can understand that. It's like addiction. Drugs and/or alcohol fill an emotional void. But having to live among dirty dishes and old newspapers and boxes of junk that have been collected over the years makes me nervous just thinking about it. And of course the mice go where the hoard is. This is enough to send me over the edge. I even clean my vacuum cleaner after I use it. Just one little pile of 8x10 papers laying around would keep me up at night.

You're a better woman that I am JessieBelle! Make sure you protect yourself with a mask and gloves. We'll be cheering you on!
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