My little mother, the hoarder, has finally gone just too far and YB and I are going to clean her hoard.

(And we are going to catch H3LL for it, too, but I am so glad we're doing this that I can't stand it.)

COVID has had her completely locked down for over a year...she literally has been nowhere, but the inside of the car for that length of time. She has aged quite significantly and now that the Sr Center will be reopening in about a month--she doesn't have the energy to go. She can barely walk and recently has become bowel incontinent. That's something that's hard to hide.

Being home all the time just spurred her catalog shopping and she has bought thousands of dollars worth of clothes, home decor items, puzzles and books. Her hoard has probably doubled in a year.

I was taking out the dead plants the other day and fell backwards over a pile of books-caught my heel on something and went down hard. I was so mad at her, b/c while I was banged up, a fall like that would break her hip. She has the typical little 'pathway' that hoarders make. And she walks so very slowly, that she says SHE never falls.

Anyhow--while retrieving this dead plant, I saw behind the end table and she has piles and piles of old catalogs and TV Guides. All completely covered in thick dust.

I went in the kitchen top get an ice pack and mother yells out to me to NOT USE THE TOASTER. I asked why and she said 'it's full of moths'. By darn, it was. Thousands of them, cooked to a crisp. Then I realized she had gone through her cupboards and has put everything in ziploc bags, b/c of the moth infestation.

I kind of blew up and asked her what was going on--she said she had it under control--no, not by a long shot. Evidently, nobody cleaned her birdcage and the moths get in the food and then take over the apartment. She has moth traps all over her place and they are all packed with bugs. The wall behind the birdcage is covered in poop and feathers and more moths that got stuck in the poop. Then birds are crawling with mites. (I'm gagging now...)

OK, it has been a couple of years since I even attempted to clean and it's obvious. I left her house and contacted YB (she lives with him) and said "WE need to clean. If this doesn't get cleaned, I am just going to call APS and let them see the conditions she's in. I don't want you in trouble, but I need you to take a closer look. You are still sick from COVID (he is a long hauler and will never be much better. Lots of health issues, primarily respiratory and the dust/moths/birds/feathers are making him cough all the time.)

He actually agreed, instead of blowing up, which is what he usually does. He started to cry and said "I just can't do this anymore. She's making me crazy".

Sad as I was to see him humbled and broken, it's opened the door to getting this place cleaned out. We are going to send mother with our sis up to visit her newest GGbaby, and that drive, combined with a stop for lunch will buy us 4 hours. We can do a LOT in that time.

It's going to be awful--but I finally have YB on board and accepting help to clean. Mother really needs 2 times a week bathing help and so I will broach that with mother---in time. YB is finally amenable to 'some' outside help.

I'd always maintained that if she CHOSE to live in a hoard, I wouldn't do anything to clean against her wishes with the caveat that if she EVER had vermin, all bets were off. Welll.......

I don't expect a total cleanout, but if we can simply buy her more she's not creeping around her apartment in narrow passageways--that and get rid of the moths! I will consider it a success. I KNOW she will be so mad, but I know she's crossed the line into filth from just being untidy.

Sorry for the long post. I am a little anxious about stepping on her toes, but I also know that my daddy wouldn't have wanted her to live like this.

Wish me luck!

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Thanks for the kind words. I am the family 'empath' and it stinks! It also means nobody has a forgotten birthday or event that doesn't get 'celebrated'. It unfortunately also means you feel all the feels and as I am married to a skunk---he teases me a lot over being too sensitive. (Needless to say, HE has been the prime recipient of all the empathy over the years).

I NEVER wanted my mom to die and have regrets over hotly spoken words, slammed doors and anger. Most of what I struggled with, with her over the years, she simply has assigned entirely different storylines. It's up to me to accept that the way she remembers events are her reality, and I cannot change that.

Yes, she's driven me absolutely crazy over the years, painfully so, but in the end, I need peace and she does too.

She WANTS to go to Bingo in her wheelchair. That can't happen. She has an OLD wheelchair that weighs about 50 lbs and I can;t lift it nor get it in my small car. I told her she needed to do SOME kind of leg exercises so she could walk the few steps out of the house and into the Sr Center. I also gently reminded her that a powerchair cannot work in her apt, neither will a wheelchair and stepping down to those would mean she moves to a NH.

I'm sure we'll have rough days ahead, but I, for one, am going to really try to do better. I don't think we'll have her for the summer. She is hanging on for a beloved granddaughter's wedding June 3rd.

I cannot express how wonderful it is to have such great support from such a wonderful group of people.

Thank you all!

Barb, just one of the many things that don’t make sense to her now. Growing up, we lived in row homes of Philly, and Every year, The local news would Report elderly who died in their homes because they did not open the windows or have the air on. Parents talked to me about this as I grew up!

The first summer after dad died, she was taken to the ER one hot August night. All doors and windows were closed, and the oscillating fan was on. She decided to make Mrs. Paul’s fish sticks in the oven. She gave herself heat stroke, called my daughter because we were out of town. Mom had been sweating profusely for hours, eventually losing her bowels. She checked out fine but hangs onto the one Thing she remembers the doc saying - that it might have been an inner ear thing. I told hospital staff what happened, but no one really listened.

Of course she now yells and screams that I don’t know what I’m talking about and she did not have a heat-related incident.

You can’t make this stuff up.

Good luck with the AC, Kats. I could never get my mom to understand that being hot wasn't good for her health.

Even after she went to an Independent Living Facility, she kept the a/c off and her rooms sauna-like.

I even had her doctor explain to her that it was bad for her blood pressure.

It was no surprise to me that she had a stroke on July 1st. Sad as it was, it meant that someone else controlled the temps from then on.

Congratulations on taking the next step! I am encouraged by your post!!

Mom will be so mad when I take the next step, anticipating calling area agency on aging this summer. As in years past, I will go around and around with her about opening windows and doors on the first very hot day, as she argues about putting on the AC, and remains in a closed-up home with an oscillating fan on her, perspiring and maintaining that she is fine.

Not this year.

It’s not what mom wants, it’s now what mom needs. My new mantra.

MidKid, remember to self care through this time. Keep us posted.

Thanks for the update, Midkid! It sounds like your mom is mellowing a bit. So gkad for you.

Good to hear your update Midkid. Even though there is decline you have the insight to accept & make the best of it all. Job very well done.

I absolutely know I do not have the mental strength needed to sort my siblings or folks places out if that was needed today.

I'm looking around here at my own junk wondering how much stuff I would miss if my kids chucked some out... sigh. I know when I get into the cleaning bug mood I can make it move. But not today.

MK, how wise of you, when the signs are so clear of decline, the little irritating stuff becomes less important and just spending time matters more. You did great in letting the blame for driving fall on you. I always told my children that if they needed someone to blame in a hard situation to pick me, I can take it. I did loads of cleaning when my dad napped, I also picked one grocery bag to fill with junk that would never be missed, filled it, and tossed it. Glad you’re getting her out, and hope it’s positive for you both

For anyone who is staying up nights wondering about mom's hoard :)...

She is really slowing down. Although she never caught covid, she spent over a year in the tightest lockdown since Alcatraz. Never even had a cold!

It had a cost, though, she is very depressed. This week our Sr Center is opening for ONE day of BINGO. Mom didn't feel like she had the strength to go! Also she has a super bossy 'friend' who is still driving and should not be...and mom can't stand up to her and say "I can't drive with you anymore" I told mom to throw ME under the bus and tell her friend I was not allowing her to go places with anyone NOT family. So, mom did just that, the 'friend' blew a little head gasket, but mom is going to let me take her to 90 minutes of BINGO. It will take 2-1/2 hours to make this happen, with the fact she can barely walk, but I do want mom to feel like she has something social to do. I don't care if her friend gives me the stink eye.

I popped up there today after church and had a nice, calm visit. She has, of course, begun to refill the hoard--and one of my nieces, meaning well, had brought in 6 little ceramic elephants with succulents in them. Mom now has NO dresser space, so I was scouting out a better place to put all these things. I also suggested that we take all the puzzles and books to the Center-telling her that they were running low and she needed to gift them. She agreed, so we made a good size pile for her to take.

We're going to lose the hoarding war, but we can win small battles. I snuck out a couple of really big baskets that she wanted filled with plants, but the moths will nest in the dirt, so no, that's not happening. Also, there is no where for them to go!

Mom looked so incredibly old today...She had not dressed nor done her hair or anything. I think she's giving up--and that's OK. She told me she's had 2 falls this week--she got checked out but was just banged up. She knows a broken hip means moving to a NH for the rest of her life, and she's scared.

I'll happily take her to BINGO, and also bring in lunch afterward if she wants. Her days of 'runnning around' are over.

As mad as she's made me over the years, I know I don't have much longer with her and I really don't want our last months together to be rife with contention. She has a much cleaner place (the birdcage got cleaned!!) and the moths are gone. I can 'sneaky pete' clean b/c she rarely gets out of her recliner.

Since I didn't clean, I am forgiven :) All around better.

Evidently my YS threw out mom's 'pickle fork' whatever that is. No I did not spend one second looking for it.

She asked HOW was she going to get those pickles out of the jar now?

If only that were the world's greatest problem.

My dad wasn’t a hoarder but I can attest to those insidious return labels, I threw out thousands! When we’ve done the sibling hoarder clean out twice, one thing that helped was black opaque bags. Even though he was there, once it was in the black bag, it became out of sight it of mind. I also took him stacks of stuff and said to pick 5 to keep, by some miracle he thought this put him in control and he’d do it. And I’ve definitely been guilty of sneaking out obvious crap a little at a time

Thanks--yes I know mothballs are toxic to birds, but they have to do SOMETHING to control the infestation and cleaning is just the first.

We're going to talk as sibs and plan a once a month upkeep cleaning, so it won't get this bad again. The last time it was this well cleaned was when mom thought she wanted to do 'KonMari' cleaning with me. Epic fail, and she was mad at me for years, so I have never done more than sneak out some papers.

The place looked sort of cleaner, but if I had not known it had been cleaned, I wouldn't have noticed. Like most episodes of "Hoarders" you wind up with an angry client, a depressed social worker and family that just wants to cry.

Great news, Midkid!

I am gagging over the "dust & flying feathers" 😫🤢

They did good. You all did good.

Moth balls are toxic to birds so if it is not your intention to do away with them (and I'm sure it isn't) then you should either remove the birds (to the vet for treatment?) or come up with a different solution for that problem.

Sis emailed me this morning with the 'total update'. I think a certain amount of guilt went into this cleanout as the 3 MIA sibs really do nothing at all for literally YEARS and I am only allowed to do the most minimal.

I guess her place needs some structural repairs. It is a part of YB's home, but mother wouldn't let him see the problem--the shower was rotted all around the base and she kept towels on it--'out of sight out of mind?' IDK. He worked for several hours and YB will have to get in there and really fix it. She also needs new faucets--I've never seen a water faucet rot out of its moorings before, but all 3 of hers did. Weird.

I guess the dust & flying feathers was pretty awful, so I'm glad I was not there. I'm taking up some mothballs and cedar wood blocks to put in the closets to hopefully quell the moth problem. The cage did not get cleaned, so if that doesn't happen real soon, she'll be right back at square one.

Since the 2 sibs who went were her 'faves' she was much more accepting. They did get 7 HUGE bags of garbage out--and could have done 7 more, but there was only so much time.

My MIA sibs were quite humbled by how bad things were, as I have been trying to TELL them for over a year. Now we are going to go once a month, in pairs and just keep things up. It's still nowhere near where I would want it to be, but hey, I don't have to live there. She's pretty mad at me, I hear, Oh well.

Now I have had my 2nd vaccine, I get to go to Krispy Kreme and get a free doughnut everyday for the rest of the year. Pretty smart advertising on KK's part!

Thanks for all the support. Mom will continue to hoard and hang on to everything that comes in, but we have all decided to not give her any more "things". If sis could throw out 50 vases, she doesn't need any new ones! And over 100 little pads of paper and literally 1000's of those return labels you get with pleas for donation.

I’m glad that it’s done for now, and that you didn’t have to be a part of it, Mid!

Yayayay for getting to see your kids soon! Such good news!

I guess it went well---I was asked not to come--and since mother triggers ME and I trigger HER, it was for the best.

My YB and YS went and cleaned all day. YB reported that they threw away TONS of stuff, so that is good. He said mother was in OK spirits, and that is also good.

I honestly thought she'd have cancelled them at the last minute, but these 2 sibs are her absolute faves and I think she'd let them do anything, just for the chance to have a visit with them.

If they just got the books, puzzles, old catalogs and magazines out and the place aired and dusted, I would be happy. I think they were both shocked at how grimy the place was, once you actually looked at it.

I had my 2nd COVID shot yesterday and I reacted so badly to the 1st one, I kind of expected to feel rotten this go around, and I do. But in 2 weeks, I can visit my kids!! Plus, evidently, I now get a free Krispy Kreme doughnut everyday for the rest of the year :)

I joked with my kids that a lot of people wouldn't get the vaccine for their health, but for a free doughnut every day for the rest of the year? Heck, Yeah!

Thanks for the support through this. I'm sure her place is not up to my standards, and as long as those gross birds are living there, it won't be. But, hey, it's HER place and she's happy.

Funny how the 'golden kids' can do ANYTHING and they get praised to the heavens. I do the same thing with OS and we get chewed out. Go figure!

I forgot to mention about the hoarding that my mother had an abundance of toilet paper, paper towels and Kleenex.

My mother passed away on October 31st and we just ran out of her paper towels and toilet paper. We brought all that stuff back to my house. We haven’t run out of Kleenex yet. We still have 5 more boxes of Kleenex left.

I use to watch the show hoarders. I don’t think any of them were ever “cured.”

When I told some of my coworkers that my mother was a hoarder, there first question to me was “Are you a hoarder?” NO!! I told them. It’s not hereditary!!!

Please update us when you can.

Midkid58, I admire everything you are doing but also glad that YOU are stepping away from it and letting someone else do it. Hoarding is a horrible situation.

So many times I wanted to clean my mothers house but because she was competent I was told she could live any way she wanted.

In my mothers case, she had no animals of any kind, and she never had any spoiled food. She threw out food every week on garbage day.

My mother too only had a path and she never fell but when I walked in I was always tripping over something!!! One time I tripped and almost landed on her where she was sitting!! It was insane!!!

When my mother passed away my brother and I cleaned out her 2,000 square foot house. It took 2 giant dumpsters, 50 contractor bags to throw everything out!!

We gave her furniture to my friends son and girlfriend for their new house. The rest of the furniture went to good will.

But I’m glad that your siblings will be able to go over and clean. Hopefully your mom won’t “replace” everything with “more stuff”.

Hoping for a successful clean out, and for you to take care of you.

I eagerly await the report, Midkid!!!

Let us know how it all goes!

I’m sorry for your relationship with your Mom, and about the birds, well the whole thing, really.

But I’m so glad that you’re not in on that job today!

What kind of bedding do you want for that doghouse?

Wood chips, straw, or just a blankie?

Your Dad would be proud!

We love you Mid! Hugs!

I'm not holding my breath.

I think it will be a epic fail--but mother has surprised me before. She treasures my YS beyond all of us, always has. So when she steps in, (rarely) she gets the best of the best. She doesn't believe the things the rest of us tell her.


I worry about YB's lungs. He has had serious problems for years and didn't do well with COVID. He saw a pulmonologist last week for chronic lung problems. I'd hate to see him, at age 57, going on oxygen, but that's a possibility.


Those disgusting birds. Glad it's not going to be me scraping the poop and feathers off the wall behind the cage.

Ditto to what others are saying. I am so glad you and YB will not be involved in the actual cleaning. Too many hazards for both of you. It would be nice if some cleaning did occur, but, if it were me, I would not be holding my breath.

I am VERY relieved for you not to go there or do the cleaning yourself.

Much safer to stay back on the sidelines & cheer the team on from there. Maybe suggest they hire someone!

Warn them of hazards.
Let them decide.
They live the consequences.

Reap what they sow etc.

I will not be there Monday, I was invited not to be involved as mother doesn't trust me. (actually, aw well she shouldn't)

As far as the candles, mother isn't allowed to light them b/c they are not quality ones and smell awful--also it's not good to have candles burning all the time. She wins them at Bingo and brings them home--she must have 50.

I do not care one fig about those birds. As they are feral, they have never been touched and she is terrified that if someone held them to move them to a travel crate they'd die. So she prefers they live sick and miserable in a filthy cage.
Honestly, this is the first time my YS has gotten involved in cleaning and I will be very surprised if mom doesn't call her tomorrow night and back out of Monday...I mean, it would be great if they can get in there and really clean, but YB has to work and so the cage will not get cleaned and so the whole cleaning thing will come to a screeching halt.

Mother won't take the birds to a vet. Period. So it is what it is. She had a traveling vet come once, years ago to the one bird that was actually sweet and a lot of companionship. The vet couldn't save the bird and it died in pain from being picked on by the feral birds. The vet chewed mom out for being neglectful and she said she'd never have him back.

I wish I felt more hopeful about Monday, but YS and YB will NOT push mom at all, so if they get the newspapers and books and puzzles out and bleach down the bathroom, that's all we can hope for.

The Birds....
Birds can get sick from scented candles.
They can die from exposure to cleaning products.

Can they be at the avian vet for the big cleanout? Overnight?

I can see this after the clean out, the birds will be so much healthier.

You can tell Mom, it's for the birds.

This is a terrific update!

Much better for your health, and your OB’s, as well.

Let us know how Monday goes! :-)

Just an update--

I emailed all the sibs and my YS took the reins, big time. She organized a cleanout day to be Monday when YB won't be home. She and OTHER YB will do all the cleanout. I am getting my 2nd covid shot and will likely be very sick again---plus I cannot be around the birds and they will be in the apt the whole time.

We weren't going to tell mom, as she routinely kiboshes EVERYTHING we plan...but YS said she needed to be there. (YS has never cleaned like this before, maybe her way will work?) Anyway, she told me that she and YB can do it all and that she'd talked to mom and she was excited about it. That, I know, cannot be true.

All I said was "best of luck to you both. It's not for the faint hearted and mom WILL be in your face all day long". I did ask her to PLEASE box up the books and puzzles and drop them at the Sr Center. And to remove all the scented candles that mother has won at Bingo. They are all rancid and she isn't allowed an open flame due to a fire scare a few years back. BUT, they'll do what they can. I feel that if they don't remove the birds for a couple of weeks and basically bomb the place with cleaning and mothballs and cedar blocks--we are just going to be doing this again in a couple months.

I have some really big boxes I will run up there this w/e and hopefully mom will be amenable to letting a lot of garbage go.

It's funny, really, If this were my OS and me, mom would have blown a head gasket. AS OS says, 'you and I are the ones who get the heat, because we just get in there and get the job done and don't fuss mom. S is mom's favorite, and E is probably close 2nd. We're leftovers.' I had to laugh, b/c she's right.

I'm kind of glad I won't be involved. The job won't be near what OS and I think it should be, but hey, we don't have to do anything.

And quite honestly, I am expecting mom to call tomorrow night and call the whole thing off b/c of something that will happen.

CM--mom's hoard has slowly driven me bonkers for years. Finally giving up and only seeing her occasionally and in the common living room has helped. Knowing that she is going to have a MUCH cleaner environment makes me feel better.

I actually feel like we aren't doing what daddy wanted us to do, which was: take care of Mom.

My sibs are ALL on board with this, but coordinating the days off from work, the jobs that need doing--kind of hard. Not everyone has gotten both COVID shots, and until we have, we're holding off. Also, since we have to open all the windows, we need slightly warmer weather.

As my OS pointed out "moth infestation is gross but it's not life threatening". She's right. I honestly thought I'd send out and email and get back what I usually do, which is....nothing. All 4 sibs responded right away and YS was organizing shifts before I'd even had a chance to respond to her.

So--couple more weeks and we'll dig in. Minimally, the two brothers can fix the broken faucets and cable connectors--YB has been sick since Dec with covid--long haul syndrome. Poor guy.

It will work out---if all 5 of us are in together (which pretty much never happens) then mom will have no one to complain to and she'll just have to pull up her big girl panties and accept a clean house. How horrible, right?

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