Follow
Share

My Mother lives alone and is 95 years old. She is a gambling addict and a hoarder. I went to work tonight and was only their 10 minutes when my son called and said grandma needs you. She has shortness of breath and is shaking. I left work immediately and there were 2 ambulances in her driveway. I rushed up the driveway and they told me she is fine. She just had a panic attack but she wants us to take her to the hospital. I said ok I’ll meet you there. I made up my mind I was telling them everything. The ER doctor checked her over and didn’t find anything wrong. He then took her socks off because she said her toes hurt and all this white dust and stuff came out of her socks. He asked when the last time she changed her socks. She said she couldn’t remember. They immediately brought in a social worker. She told her that her house had clutter and I whispered hoarder so the social worker heard me. She kept trying to talk my mom into having a nurse or aide come to her house. She said no. A few minutes later I got the social worker aside and told her she is not bathing or changing her clothes, or washing her hair, that she won’t do laundry and she is a hoarder with just a path to get around the house. I am crying and pleading at this time and said I’m sorry. She refuses help. There is nothing we can do since she is competent. She said she has to fall or something before anybody can’t intervene. Nobody is calling APS. Not the hospital or the EMTs. There were 3 of them in her filthy house. The social worker told me to call APS if I wanted but don’t be surprised if they say there is nothing we can do because she is competent. This is outrageous. I live in upstate ny and there is no mandatory reporting of a self neglecting individual. Needless to say I had to bring her back home. I got her settled in and then I left.

Find Care & Housing
Daughter of a (former) high level (on the top of the door frames!) hoarder here. There is **nothing** you can do as long as mom is competent, and there is a **very** low bar for competency. I reported mthr multiple times - fire dept, building code officers, adult protective, animal shelter... nothing works. People in the US have a right to live however they please up until they are incompetent, and then someone else gets a turn.

Because you cannot change her behavior, you have to change yours. What I did with mthr was to not visit her house at all. Nothing. I refused to be in that mess of a firetrap. You might say, but then Mommy won't get her groceries, or social activity... That's your point. If people won't go visit her mess, then she has to either give up the mess and move to an AL, or clean it up on her own. We know she does not want either, but you have leverage to pry her from her home once she runs out of groceries. You can bargain with her... I'll take you to the store IF we go to your doctor's and you have an exam first. Hopefully you have photos of the inside of the hoard, the kitchen, bath, her bedroom, the path to her chair, and the path from the chair to the door as evidence that her living conditions are unsafe. (Take those photos first, before drawing this line!). You'll also need POA if you don't have it already.

Depending on the Dr visit, you can now find the appropriate level of care in a home (NH, MC, or AL). Now when something happens that ends with her in the ER, you will have a list of places to call. And you will continue to use groceries or visits as barganing chips - but **don't go in the house** - protect yourself from it!
Helpful Answer (17)
Reply to surprise
Report
ExhaustedPiper Feb 7, 2020
Do you know what criteria doctors use to determine competency? I honestly don't know.

Hoarding should be considered a mental illness and safety hazard, I'm surprised more action isn't taken in these situations.
(6)
Report
See 2 more replies
Elaine,

Your mother is severely mentally ill. The contact you do have with her is toxic. She groomed you to be the way you are with her. The anguish she puts you through is abundantly clear!

Her not answering the phone is manipulation to get you coming in person. As long as you are calling her from your house or cell phone, you will have a telephone record of attempting to reach out.

You can call the non-emergency number of the police to do a welfare check on her. Call enough times, and the police may be your allies in forcing something to happen.

Call APS and leave your name. Tell them you can no longer check on her because she is verbally abusive and her home is a death trap. And do not let her drag your son into this.

And the next time she lands in the hospital, tell the social worker or whoever is calling you that discharge to home is unsafe, that you cannot help her, that she is verbally abusive to you, and that her home is a death trap. Let the hospital deal with her. And perhaps, when she realizes that you are not coming to get her, she will answer her phone.
Helpful Answer (17)
Reply to NYDaughterInLaw
Report
NeedHelpWithMom Feb 7, 2020
Good idea about the welfare check. You can say that she doesn’t always answer her phone.
(9)
Report
See 2 more replies
Yep, it's aggravating indeed.
Your mother has some huge cushions. You will bail her out of the messes she creates. She knows that.
The EMTs will bail her out by taking her to the ER for every little episode she has.
Nobody will 'do' anything about her living conditions so she knows she's safe and will be left alone.
The answer here is YOU.
Stop doing for her. Stop bailing her out. Stop rushing to the ER when the phone rings. Tell your son to call you when the crisis du jour is over with and to let you know the results. That you are WORKING and have no more leave time. Sorry mom.
Allow her to fall and hurt herself or get very sick and THAT is when she will be forced to vacate her hoarding den and get placed elsewhere.
As long as you keep picking up the pieces of the messes she makes, she's got a safe haven.
Sometimes we have to stop doing that and let the chips fall where they may. In this case, at 95 years old, I think it's the only way to get your stubborn mother the help she truly needs. By FORCING it.

Otherwise, step back and let mother live life on HER terms. Which may mean dying on her terms, too. She's a grown woman and has a right to make her own decisions, right or wrong, at least that's what everyone keeps telling you, right?

Sending you a giant hug and a prayer too. None of this is easy, that's for sure.
Helpful Answer (16)
Reply to lealonnie1
Report
ML4444 Feb 10, 2020
You are exactly right. Quit the enabling and start letting her have consequences of her actions. I've finally started doing the same because her dr told me aps has limited power and mother has rights . So I chose myself. I wish you the best Eaine...it isnt easy.
(1)
Report
I promise to let everyone know what happens after I talk her doctor and an elder lawyer. We have elder lawyers right down the road from me. Don’t worry about me. I’m tough and I will get through this. I won’t do anything stupid, irrational, or impulsive!!!
Helpful Answer (12)
Reply to elaine1962
Report
NeedHelpWithMom Feb 7, 2020
Please do, Elaine

Let us know. Pulling for you. 💗
Yes, unfortunately you have lots of practice dealing with your mom!
(4)
Report
It's her choice to live that way. You also have choices. I agree with what Surprise wrote and that is stop going inside her house. Stop enabling her to "live alone"; it's a farce because she cannot actually live alone without you.

Not only do you drop everything and come when summoned, you tolerate her insults. She treats you poorly because you allow her to. It sounds like she's mean to you and sweet as pie to outsiders. I encourage you to read the book Mean Mothers: Overcoming the Legacy of Hurt by Peg Streep.
Helpful Answer (10)
Reply to NYDaughterInLaw
Report
NeedHelpWithMom Feb 7, 2020
NY,

Since Elaine doesn’t live with her mom she can’t get into any trouble then with elder abuse charges. Is that correct? Excuse my ignorance. Are children ever forced to take responsibility for their parents legally in any one of our states in this country?
(1)
Report
See 2 more replies
Frustrating and downright abuse to us adult children! I keep fantasizing that I can sue my mom for 1) the money I spent last year to help her come home the first time around and 2) for the anguish and physical distress she's caused me the rest of the year.

My mom gets discharged today after round #2 in hospital/LTC. I'm nowhere near the scene this time around . Have no idea if utilities are on - or house hasn't been broken into this whole time she was laid up. The caregiver she hires (under the table) will be there to meet with her when she gets home.

The only thing I can say at this point - it's her problem, not mine. I gave up. (sort of). But I' steering clear of my mom as much as I can now. I've got to get back to my life anyway.
Helpful Answer (10)
Reply to Blue24
Report
NeedHelpWithMom Feb 7, 2020
Sad. Isn’t it? Truly sad. I’m so sorry.
(4)
Report
Elaine, I understand you not wanting to go 'no contact'. I wouldn't want to do that either, if I were in your shoes. It's not about going 'no contact' really, but about not rescuing the woman from all of her issues. Can you tell her to call you at a certain time every day to check in? Or, can you call her at a certain time every day to check in? Even though she doesn't answer the phone normally, could something be arranged where she would agree to the once a day check in?
The problem here is that YOUR life is being ruined in the process of mother 'living her own life.' What would it take for YOU to feel better here and to not make statements like 'sometimes I wish I would die before her.'?
THAT is what's important here. Your mother is 95.......her days are numbered no matter what, you know? You can't save her from herself, so decide what you will and won't do, like the daily phone check in's and stuff. Maybe bring her some food once a week or something like that. What's the minimum you can do to where you feel useful but that it's not killing you?

What about hiring someone to do a daily check in? To see if/what she needs. Then you would KNOW that she is okay and not laying on the floor dying! That's something to consider also.

Think about that. Again, mom is 95. This situation won't go on forever. Don't come out of this completely wrecked. Then two lives will be lost. Sending you a big hug
Helpful Answer (10)
Reply to lealonnie1
Report
NeedHelpWithMom Feb 7, 2020
You know, I really like the idea of hiring someone to check in on her at a certain time. Hey, let this person witness what is going on. They report back to you and you remain in neutral territory.

Elaine,

Speak to Council on Aging about all of this. See if they have any advice as well.

Even if it’s not a daily check in. Try to maybe pay a flat fee. So it won’t cost as much to you but also fair to them. I bet a student would jump at the extra money. Is she near a high school or university where students are?
(4)
Report
Elaine, I think you've found a good balance. Go once a week and haul out the trash and mail the Bill's. If she abuses you, get up and walk out.

The hospital says she is competent to live alone, PT says she is mobile enough to ambulate independently.

If there is an "emergency" call 911 and the let hospital deal with it.

(((((Hugs))))))
Helpful Answer (10)
Reply to BarbBrooklyn
Report
elaine1962 Feb 12, 2020
Thank you for your support Barbbrooklyn!!
(4)
Report
Apparently, I don't understand the definition of "competent". My mother's doctor said she was competent and had the right to make her own decisions even if they were bad decisions. ??? My mother just passed away last month at 88. She had lived alone in a two-story house with a basement and a garage - all filled with stuff. When she was 85, she was in a car accident and spent a week in the hospital. I told her that I didn;t think it was safe for her to return to her house until it was cleaned and all of the obstacles were removed from the floors. It looked like a hoarder's house. She was furious with me and demanded that she go from the hospital to her house. She had to have home health care - visiting nurse, physical therapist. I spoke with the hospital social worker and told her that, in my opinion, the house was not safe for her in its condition. Still, she was released to her own home. A visiting nurse came to the house two days later. About two days after that visit, in investigator/inspector came to the house, unannounced, and my mother allowed him into the house. He told her it was a "hazard" and she had to clean it up. He returned in two weeks to find the first two rooms and a bathroom all cleaned (my brother and I and two nieces had cleaned it). The investigator told my mother those two rooms were fine, but that the other rooms were still hazards and had to be cleaned as well. He said he would return in two weeks. He never returned. He closed the case. The clean rooms were full of garbage and obstacles within a month. A year ago, she had to move in with my brother due to her medical conditions. After one month, she told she had made the biggest mistake of her life by moving out of her house. I tell you all of this because I learned the hard way that hoarding is definitely a mental illness. My mother was fiercely independent (mentally) and would scream at me if I suggested she do anything that involved change. My sadness is from thinking of lost opportunities for joy and happiness. Instead she chose to live in what appeared to be a miserable situation that she created. She had multiple falls, even at my brother's house, due to refusing to use a walker or cane and the fact that she was trashing her bedroom there and had obstacles all over the floor. I don't know the answer. I can only tell you what I observed. At some point, one must step away from the stress, all the rejected offers to help. Otherwise, you may become ill yourself. Is you step away, you may feel some "guilt" but you will probably experience relief as well. I wish the best for you.
Helpful Answer (10)
Reply to guiltandanger
Report
NeedHelpWithMom Feb 14, 2020
My word, this hoarding situation is awful for so many families. So sorry your family dealt with it too.
(6)
Report
Elaine, the ONLY way you can tear the veil away from her charade of competence is by staying away and allowing her to fail.

Look, I've seen elder care play out both ways; my own mom was fairly cooperative and when my brothers and I said "no, we are not going to show up for your non-emergencies", she went into a nice Independent Living facility.

My MIL refused care; my DH, whom she accused of elder abuse walked away.

She ended up hospitalized with serious cardiac issues, had a stroke, refused rehab and starved herself to death. Not pleasant, but my husband stood firm and refused to take her abusive behavior.

Some people, Elaine, are their own worst enemies. They don't trust their own children to do what is right for them and end up in the care of the state. There isn't anything you can do to change who your mom is.

There is NOTHING that says that her demands (she will only allow you in her house) outweigh YOUR right to a peaceful and productive life.

I hope you can stay clear of her and gain some clarity. ((((Hugs)))))))
Helpful Answer (9)
Reply to BarbBrooklyn
Report

See All Answers

Ask a Question

Subscribe to
Our Newsletter