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My father is the POA and lives out of state. I moved here almost 5 years ago to help my other set of grandparents and I found out how bad this set had gotten. I have uncles and cousins here but nobody helps. My father says they say they are getting rid of things and when he visits, he says he won’t force them to do anything they don’t want to do. It’s floor to ceiling in the guest bedroom and bathroom and in the walk-in area, living room, kitchen, and dining room with just a narrow pathway from the front door to their bedroom with a tiny trail to the kitchen sink and refrigerator and their washer and dryer. They don’t get rid of anything and they keep buying things. You can smell urine from outside. They have a dog. Grandma and the dog are incontinent. Grandpa does everything for Grandma. My father is the POA and refuses to force them to move against their will and keeps saying they say they are getting rid of things. My father lives out of state but visits. My father’s brothers and their children all live in the area but nobody really visits because it’s too gross. My throat hurts and I get itchy if I am in there for longer than maybe 20 minutes. I have been trying for almost 5 years but nobody will help me and nothing has improved. I don’t know who to talk to but I want to anonymously report this situation so they can get forced out of their trailer and into assisted living. Please, help me!

I would report the situation to APS. The phone number for Iowa Adult Protective services is (800) 362-2178. Here is the website:

https://dhs.iowa.gov/DependentAdultProtectiveServices/Families

If your grandparents are considered to still be competent to manage their own affairs then you may not have any options right now. Still, it certainly couldn't hurt to get them on the radar screen of the authorities.
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BobItsABoy Feb 14, 2019
Thank you!
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When is your father next visiting? Go with him if you can, and if you can do it without upsetting anyone take pictures. Then sit down with your father afterwards, make him look at the situation objectively, and ask him if he seriously thinks it's his father's wish to be living in a trailer full of fall and trip hazards with his incontinent wife and neglected dog.

I will champion elders' rights to autonomy until I am blue in the face, but the other side of that coin is that you have to be alert to signs that they're not following their own wishes, they're just scared stiff of what happens next. The answer is to make a plan they are happy with, it's not to carry on regardless until somebody gets hurt.

If you can't do this soon, or you don't think it'll get you anywhere, then act on Snoopy's really helpful information without delay. It's the right thing to do: no matter how anxious you feel about "calling APS on them", remember that it's *nothing* compared to how you'll feel if somebody else does.
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I'd report to Adult Protective Services and also the SPCA. That pet needs to be rescued. Getting the animal out might be easier than the humans. There also might be Fire Code Violations. Hoarding is said to be a mental health issue and it's difficult to get people out of it. If they are competent, I'd likely let them make their own decisions, though, that sounds cold. But, tackling something like that is a big deal. The county may not want to take it on either, but, for me, the innocent dog shouldn't have to suffer.
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bevthegreat Feb 15, 2019
The pet wouldn't be rescued. It would be killed.
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Several calls can be made.
Call the local Senior Center. Often they have social workers that may be able to help. (If they can't they may be able to point you in the right direction.)
Call Adult Protective Service if there is one in your area.
Call the Health Department
Call the Fire Department.
Hoarding in most areas is not "legal" and they can be forced to make changes or if they can't or your father will not step in to do anything there is a good possibility that they will be removed from the home and they will have Guardians appointed. This is not the ideal situation as it will cause quite a bit of stress. For all parties.
But it sounds like this is something that has to be done for their safety. So do NOT feel guilty.
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gdaughter Feb 15, 2019
We had a situation once where a brother intervened while his hoarding sister was hospitalized and did a major clean up. She came home and was LIVID. Same situation involved an apartment...i.e. the fire hazard generated risk for the entire complex/building. Building was old and steam triggered the fire alarm which could only be shut-off by the arrival of the fire dept. When they got in her unit and saw the paths, and that outlets were blocked and windows were blocked for an emergency exit...they passed on their concern to social workers...
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The dog may not be incontinent. It could be that no one takes it outside, so the poor thing has no choice but to go inside the house.
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BobItsABoy Feb 15, 2019
This is true. And then, we find the pee and poop in the piles of junk. It’s a good dog. I wish it had space to run around.
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What is it with you people and “killing their old dog”. Don’t you think the grandchild has enough on his plate without piling on more guilt? You are not in charge of the area animal services where they live, so you don’t know what would happen to the dog for sure. Have some empathy please.
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Riverdale Feb 15, 2019
It really is cruel to keep the dog in this environment. How could you expect civil dog behavior when it is living in this very sad living situation? The poor animal has obviously no say in the matter. Good luck with moving forward. I am so sorry this is your predicament.
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I completely agree with the advice to call APS and attempt to get help. I’ll also advise not to underestimate a hoarder. My brother is one. We’ve helped him clean out 3 times, at his request, and each time the hoard only grew worse afterwards. This is a mental disorder that is is hard to deal with and almost impossible to overcome. Bless you for caring and trying to help, I hope it goes well, such a tough issue to deal with
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Hoarding is, indeed, a mental illness, and although you may address the "cleanliness factor" and feel good about it, in my experience, hoarders can totally re-hoard a place in weeks, as they NEED to be surrounded by junk to feel safe, or valuable..whatever.

Mother's hoarding is pretty mild, since we simply insist that papers and garbage and bags of wet pads and depends GO OUT at least bi weekly. And, WOW does she get mad when I take the newspapers to the recycle bin. It's kind of picking your poison, really. Since she lives in an apartment in a home--the smell travels to the rest of the house pretty seriously. And she's mad at my SIL for complaining for the smell!! I think when you live in someone else's home, you should at least attempt to follow some basic rules.

Addressing the "hoard" is EASY. Addressing the underlying mental illness is nigh to impossible. I actually have never known a "cured" hoarder.

If the case is really bad and the hoarder just freaks out over "loosing their life"..get as many clear plastic bins as you can and just pack those. If they are the clear ones, they seem to calm the hoarder a little as they can see inside) Mother has about 20 in the storage area in the crawlspace. It's ALL garbage and will be thrown away after she dies. It's time to do that again, although we did this about 3-4 years ago, she never forgave me and I am not allowed to so much as scrape the coat of dust off her dead plants. She did recently let my niece cull her closet, only because she didn't have the strength to push aside one item to see another. Niece reported she "gave away" maybe 10 things.

I have long since given up trying to help her. If she gave me 2 days with carte blanche---she'd come home to a clean, sweet smelling MUCH more spacious living environment. Which she would absolutely HATE.

And that will NEVER happen. Never.

I am referred to the heartless daughter who throws away everything.
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guiltandanger Feb 15, 2019
I can relate to your situation so much! About two years after my dad died, my mother said that she would like to go through the stuff in the house and organize it and donate some of my dad's things (clothes, etc.). So, I offered to help her t do that. This was years before her house became a filthy, hazardous hoarder's home. Years later, when confronted with the problem and the need to remove the stuff, she said no one ever offers to help her and she can't do it all on her own. I reminded her that I had offered to help several times. She replied "All you ever did was offer to get rid of my things!" Yes, I am also the daughter who just wants to control her life and throw away her treasured belongings. Sigh.
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It’s a safety issue. I agree, you should call.
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Call the local protective services agency/hotline. It should be confidential. Try telling your grandparents' doctor or another mandatory reporter. I had an emotional discussion with the hospital social worker when my mother was in the hospital, and the social worker made the call. Or, the visiting nurse made the call when my mother went home. an investigator went to her house and declared it to be a "hazard" and gave her two weeks to clean it, but left her in the house. It took five of us to clean three rooms within those two weeks - it was very difficult with my mother following us around and objecting to throwing away trash and removing vast amounts of clutter and trip hazards from the floor, and clearing kitchen table, counters, and appliances. Mountains of dirty dishes. Two weeks later, the investigator returned and saw that the living room, kitchen and bathroom were clean, but the two bedrooms were still a "hazard". He gave her another two weeks to clean those rooms. Some progress was made, huge amount of "stuff" removed but not allowed to be taken out of the house. However, he never returned. No follow-up inspection. Within one month, the place was trashed again, and over time it became worse than ever. So, if you make a call to protective services, be sure to follow-up with the agency. I still don't understand why my mother was allowed to continue living in the "hazard" - I wouldn't let a dog live there.
Good luck to you. My heart goes out to you.
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gdaughter Feb 15, 2019
Terrible...real help should not be dumped on the backs of caregivers/family alone. Hoarding must be seen as a chronic condition and unless there is a change of environment or help, not much is going to improve. It is terribly sad and more common than people realize.
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