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Me and my sisters live around the country, not in the same city as our mother. When we visit we try to clean but instead she assigns up jobs like sorting out batteries or reorganizing a shelf. If we try to push her to get help or if we try to clean up ourselves, she becomes very aggressive.

For the last 10 years her home has been quite dirty and filled with all sorts of things she doesn't need but she will not let us do anything about it, although she constantly complains that she can't get other things taken care of because her house is a mess and needs to be cleaned up. She has a long history of mental illness but she is functional and very smart.

She is now 88 and her health has declined somewhat in the last year, to the point where a friend of hers called me to state that the house was in very bad shape. We realize that we each need to visit her more and ensure that her house is safe for her to be in. We also realize that we need to visit her more to ensure that her home is safe.

She does not listen to any of her children so convincing her of the need to clean her home is not going to happen. She also lies regularly so she might say she is going to do something and then she does not.

We believe that having a home care aide come in to her house several times a week would provide her with some company, make sure her home is safe, and attend to errands, etc. However, her house is not clean or safe enough for an attendant to come to at this point. She says she would be willing to have a home care aide come in, but is not willing to have the house cleaned to the point where that could happen (which could be her passive aggressive of saying she doesn't want a home care aide in the first place).

My sisters and I feel we are at a standstill--we want to know that her living situation is not safe but short of forcibly removing her from the home and sending in a cleaning crew, what are our options?

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My husband's parents and we went through the exactly same experience as abbazgirl. we live in tennessee and parents live in CA. Before we were finished with trying to provide care, daddy, who had dementia and lived until a month short of 100 years, had given away his wife's money and community property to the people next door. The scammers kept mother's money while she died in poverty. I have papers from 5 court appearances we went through to keep mother safe from him. $70,000. Santa Clara County Adult protective services dropped all my complaints and aided in the demolition of the family and our resources. I have 2,000 pages of legal documents which I intend to film as a documentary of what we went through to secure mother's resources and provide her care. Being out of state, this was expensive and time consuming, completely destroyed our lives in our own so called retirement. Unbelievable. I don't know about other states, but California will screw your family out of their end-of-life resources in the direst time of need.
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My mother's situation is similar, but I feel worse - inside cats, animal excrement everywhere, maggots in kitchen, etc. Re Social Services - they said as long as she has running water, food (albeit it is spoiled) in fridge, and toilet, there is nothing they can do. Her Dr. says she is just old. After 8 mos of paying a housekeeper, they have quit, Mother will not cooperate in any attempt to keep anything clean. If it has a flat surface, she will feed canned cat food and let the cats defecate/urinate on it. Siblings just don't go to see her. I am at my wits end on what to do.
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Madeaa, yes indeed, it is amazing what we have to go through sometimes...

When my mom was younger and brought crap from rentals home, she's get really pissed when that crap disappeared. My mom would stash it in her sun room, I'd find stuff piling up and toss it. Like I said, I claimed ignorance. H*ll, somebody stole it all for all I knew... As she got older, she'd forget about it, which made it a lot easier.

And if people truly feel their lives are in danger, and I was one of them with my mom for different reasons, well, you do what you have to do. No, no one should be required to die caring for elderly parents, and yes indeed, sometimes it's time to call in the big guns and get other help, for their sake as well as yours. One person, one body, one mind, can only give so much before, as you said, Madeaa, it sucks the life and vitality right out of you, leaving you less than you were before, and sometimes unhealthy in mind and body to boot. Do what's right for YOU. We all go above and beyond, but it shouldn't come at the cost of our own lives and well being. You've done all you can do, Madeaa. That's all that anyone can do. And when it's enough, it's enough. You make sure your charges are safe, but you also make sure YOU are, too. *hugs*
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Isn't it amazing the way we turn ourselves inside and out. You know I have been through a living h*ll, h*ll is for sure, no doubt about it. I hold to the belief that if h*ll is real, then heaven must be too. I think for God's sakes I have two parents, and my aunts whom have dementia, surely this must be my lot. But, I also hold to the belief that I can do something to help myself and I will. It is so painful to be in this spot, I can wallow in it, I can despair, yet there is something within me that tells me NO, you will prevail if you choose to, I choose to. I spoke to my mother and she cried cried and cried and cried to come home. I cried and felt so guilty that I abandoned her, but guess what, I reviewed it all. She is a danger to herself and me. She will place me in danger, she will fall, she will continue with her false stories, that these freaking neighbors believe and I will end up a big Loser, sick and a real LOSER. The point is this, sometimes it gets to the point where you are not helping the situation and she needs "other" help. I have done all that is humanly possible, she is now killing me, and for me she has beaten me down so much that all that is left is a mere shadow of myself. I aint going down that way, sorry, time to take care of myself. If you aren't there you don't understand, allow us that right to know what is right for ourselves. Sometimes when you don't allow yourself to self preserve you end up dead. It is a fact and the truth. Make up your own mind.
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Can you have mom go on "vacation" to one of your homes? If you can figure out how to do this and present it as a fun time for her away, maybe then you can hire a crew to come in and clean the home. After it is cleaned, get the aide to come in and be with her each day when she comes home. Have a cleaner once a week, or daily whatever she can afford. She needs to be surrounded with people, the hoard can be a response to intense aloneness.
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I didn't see that ScratchieCat said anything about her mom being a hoarder. Neither did I say that about my mom.
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I agree with both of you. People who do not have someone that is to this extreme does not understand the lengths that you need to go to. OMG, I had doctors working with me to coordinate how to get her into a safe situation. Mom was so manipulative herself, believe me that was a tough task. Dad got physical, mom would scream. Both of them even tried to throw me out of the house and let me tell ya that didn't go very well for them. You do what you have to do. If you have professionals that understand what is going on then if you are arrested for abuse (yes its possible), you have the support to back you up. BUT.... anyone who knows your situation is going to be so supportive of you it will be amazing!

Geriatric psych was the best place for my mother. They ran brain scans to see why her behavior was so irrational since an extensive interview with me and they were able to meet and handle some of her behavior. Some of it was still so ingrained in mom, but at least now she wasn't a beast to deal with like previously.

Standingalone reminded me of a story with my mother. Her "baby" brother was an a-hole. He was trying to con her out of some money and I knew he was playing her something fierce. Well mom thought he was the cats meow and she would only talk to him and call him. So I started screwing with the phone. I told the AL staff about what was going on and since knowing mom's personality and issues, they worked with me soooooo well!! I would turn the ringer off so the phone wouldn't ring. When mom figured that out, I would undo the cord from where it was hidden by leaving it "in" but not. Then my "uncle" (mom's baby brother) started new methods, so I took action there too. I changed mom's phone number without ever telling anyone. Oh I went to the mat with mom and I have to agree with StandingAlone.... all costs. Believe you me I worked for it, but I got satisfaction knowing she was okay.

Did I also mention after exhausting days with her going to the mat that I also drank a lot? :X It was the only way I could chill out while my blood was boiling mad (literally!)
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50sChild, I love your take on this as well. Sounds like something I would do, too. I would definitely give your idea a shot if the mess wasn't quite to the 'hoarder' level yet...get the parent the h*ll out of there for a few hours, and clean house. Awesome solution.
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I just got back from 8 weeks in CA where my brother and I put my 91 yr. old, legally blind mom in a geripsych hospital for evaluation. Scratchiecat, I would never have thought that this was a possibility. Mental illness was our guess...these are traits we've seen since we were kids. Because mom is so good at hiding the issues, she was to be sent home after being there 5 days. Fortunately, I had a picture of the dirty mess in which she lived, the doctor was shocked and decided to send her to a locked geripsych residential care facility while we continued to clean up and repair her home. Then, we would decide if she could return with a care worker.

Those of you who say you wouldn't give your loved one a choice have no idea what I've gone through with her. How would you get her out of the house? Give me specifics. Or, get back in the house when she refused to let you in because you threw something away on the last visit? People would say, you need to take her for an evaluation? I'd ask, how? when she will not go. We've made appts and couldn't physically get her out of the house. Her reaction was like trying to put a cat in a tub of water! Give me specifics on how to do these things. I bet we've tried it.

We attempted to get an apartment or assisted living for her for a month or so. That way we could come in, triage, clean, and repair the home without her interference. Remember, legally we can not force her to do that (or go to a doctor, or take medication, or clean her house, or....and she knows that).

We tried APS (adult protective services) who came out, saw this situation, and after 3 months closed the case. This happened three times.

How then did we get her to the hospital? It took over three weeks to put together. Find the appropriate geripsych unit, get two of her doctors to write (and have notarized) that she is not competent to take care of herself...that's harder than you think, especially if she only has one doctor, take over her finances via successor trustee listed in her Trust, make a plan to get her to the hospital. That included her internist calling her to come in for an exam, my brother coming in to take her there, the doctor (we couldn't have done it with this man!) telling her he wants some blood workup taken at a specific hospital (the one with the geripsych unit) and talking her into going from his office straight to the hospital. (It took Dr. an hour to get her to agree that these blood tests). As my brother started driving her there, she changed her mind (nothing new). When he refused to stop, she attempted to get out of the car while it was moving, started beating the inside of the car with her fists (and, yes, StandingAlone, with her cane), then started on my brother. Because of the danger of the situation, my brother took her home to use the bathroom, etc. There he incurred verbal abuse that should never happen to anyone! He left to settle down and returned an hour later. He was able to coax her into the car and drove the 20 mins. to the hospital. The hospital had been primed and was waiting for her in order to direct her to the geripsych unit. She didn't have any paperwork to do since we, in conjunction with the dr, did it ahead of time. She still thinks a mistake was made, that she should have just had some blood tests.

Mom has refused to take any medications the drs at the hospital wanted her to try. She comes across as "delightful" to most people...for a while. They don't understand why "her kids don't help her". She'll forget what we (or anyone else) has done???? Not likely! I constantly hear about things missing that she accuses someone (usually me or my brother) of stealing 10 yrs ago.

StandingAlone, I am really offended by all your "I would make sure". I'd love to know how you would make sure. When people would say to me, you just need to do it, I'd ask how and no one could give me concrete plans of action. Or, the other phrase "you need to get her to...". Tell me how.

I hadn't intended to write all this. ScratchieCat, your situation sounds a lot like mine. "She has a long history of mental illness but she is functional and very smart." Yep. I got it! Frustrating, isn't it? Especially when others have pat answers that don't work or help. Just adds condemnation.

Thanks for listening.
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scratchie, 1. Notify the local police of who to call in the event of an emergency, because pretty soon they will respond to her house and not know who to call.
2. Notify her doctor by call or in writing of your concerns and meet with the MD if you can, discuss medications and see if she is actually taking them properly.
3. Notify her county senior services that she is at risk and have them check on her. Depending on how bad things are, they may have her taken in for evaluation. 4. When you are there, quietly clean up and ignore the protests. I would tackle the cupboards one at a time, and told mom I was getting rid of bugs and was careful not to criticize her, just the bugs. I arranged the boxes and cans that remained on the front of the shelves, so the cupboard looks full.
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First of all I can sympathize with scratchiecat, but from a different angle. If you don't have a parent that goes to the extreme like this, you have no clue how violent they can really get over them making their own choices. It is not an easy decision. With my mother, she kept me at bay and to be honest, she was so miserable, it was easy to do so until one day she ended up hospitalized and she spiraled. Then coming into the situation was easier albeit much more stressful to handle, but mom was at a point now she realized (nasty attitude and all) that she needed additional help.

You may have to call in APS. Sometimes it takes an outsider to make things happen by giving an alternative. That is still taking care of your mother by watching out for her. Sometimes we think we have to do it all ourselves, but we cannot. As children, we are perceived as a non-authority over them. My dad made that perfectly clear to me one day (and he had dementia).

Don't feel guilty if you need to call in the troops of professionals who handle these extreme situations for geriatric patients. They have tools and techniques and sometimes our parents see them on their level and we are still the kids. You can still protect your parents, just in an indirect sort of way. It can be more work, but emotionally it may be a whole lot easier than arguing or fending off aggressive attacks.
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Your question was "...short of forcibly removing her from the home and sending in a cleaning crew, what are our options?" It appears you and your siblings are in agreement. It also appears that you are all terrified of losing her love by the role reversal you are taking on as your mother's guardian/rational adult (you Mom isn't rational and cannot watch out for herself). I can relate, as witnessing a parent disown you is quite a blow, but as others have said well here, sometimes we have to take the blows for the good of others. So here is a possible baby-step option. Don't forcibly remove her. Take her away for four hours somewhere. Plan the rooms that will be cleaned in phased fashion. I'd start with kitchen, most-used bath, bedroom. Have a team hit that hard and put refuse in a basement, room, or garage or hauled to a storage unit. Then you or all siblings can begin to go through it. When I've done such a job, I have three staging areas: 1. Known refuse for garbage, 2. Storage for possible heirlooms or necessaries, 3. Unknowns. You have to move quickly in making decisions or you will be stuck in unresolvable emotional pits. You have to get sibling agreement that stuff will be handled once unless someone wants to take it home with them immediately. No on-site storage of "Unknowns." Since it sounds like you are concerned about sanitation, I think Pile 1 will be a no brainer. You can't clean out dust and dung til the other stuff is out of the way. Start with one room if you can't do three. Hire someone (professional organizer) if you can't be there, they can video the room before, inventory what appears to be valuable, and consult with you/siblings along the way. You might avert being disowned or hated for a little while. But if that is festering, you'll probably have to face it sooner or later anyway. It breaks my heart that people have to go through this, but I suppose it is like being thrown in a lake and you swim or don't. Perhaps it is our own trail of tears in bending for last acts of love of a frail and irrrational parent. I am so sorry you are facing this, but the fact you have stated the problem will allow you to be objective, with loving motivation.
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SA, I think you are having a hard time with believing just how very broken the system is with regarding to hoarding (and actually adult mental illness in general) but it really is that broken. No they can't be forced to clean up if deemed legally competent and if their home does not violate any legal housing codes. That is one angle children of hoarders eventually are able to work - getting the home condemned by the city. Also declared a fire hazard. But again it has to become quite extreme.
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Scratchiecat, I hope we haven't scared you off - your issue hits big chords with so many of us it seems! Please feel free to brainstorm with us on options of what to do.
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Veronica, it's not that I'm not afraid of things...it's what my conscience would dictate I do, and I always follow my gut. I understand the psychological power that parent's can weld over their children...but in my case, even as a kid I saw my mom as an out of control lunatic, and I didn't RESPECT that, even very young. From the day I learned how to say the word 'no' and GASP! think for myself, my mom and I have been at war. Her goal was absolute control and the total oppression and domination of my 'self'...had it been up to good old mom, the only two words in my vocabulary would have been 'Yes, mom', and no others. Unfortunately for my mom, she adopted a fighter.

I didn't accept absolute rule over me, I fought it, every single chance I got. I fought for the right to be MYSELF. With controlling parents there are two options...fight, or break. And I knew even as a kid that h*ll would freeze before she'd break me. Most people, or so it seems, do break under the weight of such intense pressure and abuse. I just...didn't for some reason. I refused, something in me wouldn't let her win. To break me was winning for my mom, and there's no way she was going to win if I had anything at all to say about it.

I remember what kind of kid I was, I'm the same today...a tomboy, who loved nothing more than to get dirty and play in the mud, explore cool bugs, turtles, snakes, you name it. My mom was absolutely horrified. I was told what a rotten 'weirdo' I was, what a 'freak' I was, what a lousy child I was almost daily, simply because of what her idea of a 'girl' was and meant, and my idea of what it meant were polar opposites. My mother was determined to change me, beat it out of me if possible, come h*ll or high water... She'd buy and put me in frilly little dresses and socks...she actually enrolled me in ballet...ugh...I mean, really? The second her back was turned, I ripped those dresses and frills off, and I was out the door, up a tree, in the creek, or in the mud. Oh! A beating for defiance later? Better that that give up my soul. I refused to do a d*mn thing at ballet classes... I sat uncooperative and sullen and refused to budge. Oh, beating again? Well, what was another? Every chance I got I fought for my life, and who I was, before I ever knew what I was doing. My dad would tell her, 'Christ, leave her ALONE, Hilde, leave her alone already..' and she never would....then she'd turn her wrath on my dad, assaulting him physically sometimes in rage for standing up for me... God, my poor dad... He should have had her committed. I look back at all that and kind of have to laugh about the lengths my mom would go to to suppress what she couldn't...my very nature. In the end, in the long run, I won, not my mother, and all things considered, she should thank God she wasn't able to break my spirit...I wouldn't be here for her otherwise. .

There's a goodness in my soul that my mom has never beat out of me, and that extends to anyone, even strangers. I'm not the type that would walk away from a hoarder situation, those extreme ones, and do nothing. Especially if it was my own mom. I HURT thinking of people living in those conditions, I'd want to HELP them, especially if it was my own family! I mean, what else? Walking away would not be an option. How can people, authority figures, just...leave people in filth? I don't understand it. Can't people in dangerous situations be removed for their own safety? If someone says no, and they're mentally sound, can't they be forced to clean up at least? Aren't there some kinds of laws against hoarding situations? If someone doesn't want to leave such a home, what kind help is there for them? Isn't a hoarder situation, that's clearly unhealthy, proof enough that the person isn't mentally competent?
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Call social services, see if they can help or guide you in what to do, keeping in mind that there are very few situations where they go to someone's house and physically force them out, so they might not be much help, even if they find that the senior isn't in the best situation.

If the house is that bad, perhaps the city might be able to condemn it and, after a certain amount of time, the cops may come and force her out, but that would be very sad.

You or a sibling might go to court and file for guardianship (expensive and time consuming) and if you get it then control is in the families hand and out of hers. Then you can all get together, descend on her house and clear it out. She will thank you in the long run I'll bet.

Good Luck

If you've watched hoarders much, you see that most the intervention doesn't work in the long run and
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I have a new question. I am sole caretaker of my 87 year old mother in law. Her son, my husband, died 6 years ago. She has no other relatives that have anything to do with her. she alienated nephews and cousins years go. She has always been bossy, demanding and downright mean but now she is to the point of absurd . After a recent hospital stay, her doctor told her assisted living was the only choice she had. Well, she would not go to assisted living nor would she allow home health to come in. She has decided the doctor gets a percentage of the amount of money she would pay at the care home. (!) She also chewed me out for telling the doctor that I was doing the cleaning , cooking, etc. she would not tell him about other serious issues like loss of bladder control (and worse). He told her that if she did not stay off her legs they would end up amputated and she would be in a nursing home. She just waved him away like he was being dismissed. She is totally confused about money but insists she can handle it. I have all the legal powers of attorney but I am reluctant to open that can of worms. Some times she can have a normal conversation but at other times she is somewhere out there talking about something ridiculous. It is always a criticism of someone else, which is really normal for her, but now she is making up the stories. How can I get to a point of being able to overlook the extremely hateful and hurtful things she says? Not only about me but her grandchildren. What kind of strategy is there to make her to what the doctor says? I have a very demanding job but I seem to have to go to her home 2-3 times a day for some issue she calls about. I know I am being played part of the time but I cannot just walk away and leave her to her own devices. She would be dead in a week. Help?
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Sorry just to add she either has a serious mental illness OR which is what I found has become overwhelmed with the mess. When I cleaned up the house mum was happy didnt say it but it showed!
Sometimes they feel over whelmed by the mess and want it clean but cant get around to it AND refuse help as they dont want you to think they cant manage you will only know when the house is cleaned and her reaction?
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Its not what they want anymore its what they need and im still trying to bang this into my families head still being ignored?
If she refuses help then i would threathen her with NH worked with my mum I had her in respite for a week and decluttered the garage she didnt even notice or get upset which was a clear sign of dementia otherwise she would have gone nuts (oops sorry she is nuts!)

I took no more crap one day and cleaned her house OR noone would visit also threatened to call her doc up to see her bedroom you wanna see her face she then sat and said nothing and i cleaned and decluttered the lot.

OT nurse called last week she still not happy as stuff a danger to her I declutter the stairs EVERDAY but it will be cluttered within an hour again!
Groundhog day!
Good luck
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Barbara you are afraid of nothing and nobody and would rush in where others feared to tread. The people you see on Hoarders have younger adult children but I think they are simply afraid to go against a parent, then the dog s**t gets so deep they can't stomach it and keep away and rationalize it by saying it's not safe to take the children there.
In my professional life I have gone into many homes where the patient is close to death and it is clearly is unsafe to leave them there. If they say they won't go to the hospital that is the end of it . I do what I can tuck them into bed and lock the door on my way out. I know someone else will visit the next morning and I may go back in the night but I can not force some one to leave their home. F***k that I hear you say Barbara I'd just call an ambulance and make them go to the hospital. Been there done that when the paramedics turn up and wheel the gurney into the house and the patient firmly says NO they have to pack up and leave and so do I because I have a 25 patient caseload that night and a 970 sq mile county to cover. It's not right and it shouldn't be allowed but it is a persons right unless they are officially declared incompetent and try getting that done. I hope we hear from scratchiecat when she has seen her mother's home and made her own assessment.
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JB, I stand by what I said. If I lived elsewhere, had no clue whatsoever what was going on, walked into my mom's house and saw what I've seen on the hoarders program, all h*ll would break loose. How could anyone walk away and leave a parent in conditions like those you see on the show? I don't understand it. I couldn't, wouldn't, do it. I'd drag my mom out of that pit if I had to.

My ex boyfriends mom is a hoarder to a certain extent...there's so much stuff in the house that there's literally only one path you can walk all through the house...the rest of the house is PILED with...stuff... That being said, the house is CLEAN. I could live with a clean hoarder and not feel any need to take action...but walking into a house with dead rats laying around, cat and dog...and human...feces all over the d*mn place, no running water, maggots, you name it...No. H*ll no. I don't care if it's right or wrong in anyone's eyes...If I was confronted with that scenario my conscience wouldn't allow me to leave my mom in an unhealthy and unsafe environment like that. But then, I'm talking the extreme end of things, not just someone with piles of stuff... It's not the stuff I have a problem with...it's mold, and unsanitary conditions, like a slum or something...no, I'd have to act on that. One way or the other.
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I can tell that some people have never dealt with a hoarders situation. It is not easy. It is not the fault of the people around. It is a mental health issue that just returns if not dealt with correctly. StandingAlone, your solution is an emotional response, but would be totally ineffective. It might even end up in injury and jail time. It would be no more effective than shaking a person with dementia and yelling, "Snap out of it." If it is true hoarding, there are a host of psychological issues that have to be addressed in getting the person to let go of their fort. The TV series "Hoarders" is better than the "Hoarding: Buried Alive" because it shows the practicality of dealing with the anger and anxiety. It teaches the use of the donate, discard, and keep piles as a first step in therapy. I used this show as a guide when I was organizing my parents' hoarded house. Unfortunately, the show doesn't go much into follow-up therapy.

I have found one type of hoarding that doesn't require follow-up. It is hoarding due to laziness. It is a lot easier to just put something in a back room than it is to take it somewhere to donate it. If laziness is the problem, than someone just needs to come in and clean things up occasionally. Lazy people tend to stay that way. But when memories are tied to things, or when there is a fear that something will be needed, or when people are trying to build a fort to wall out others, or when there is compulsive buying/keeping, then follow-up psychotherapy is the only way I know to keep them from just falling back into it.
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I'm sort of an entry-level hoarder, and I'll tell you that forcing me to do things just makes me resist all the harder.

We have chosen to make this a free country, and over the centuries and decades, we have made the country more free for slaves, women. minorities and the mentally ill. I am not happy about schizophrenics being able to go off their meds and ending up homeless, but that is allowing them to have the right to determine their destiny. The government used to be able to decide who you could have sex with, and I think 90% of us would never accept that again. Make that 98%. Some people want to legislate who other people can have sex with, but think that they themselves should be exempt from the law! In the future, there may be carefully written laws that permit legal action under limited conditions, but we don't have those laws yet. This is the land of the free.

As a small possible compromise, as a hoarder I suggest asking the hoarder to agree that the stairs need to be clear for safety reasons. With her agreement, help her clear that one area. Then find another small area, like near the stove, that is also hazardous.

The eventual outcome will be a fall or illness, meaning that she has to leave her home. Ask her what things she would want to keep in that unpleasant circumstance, when a stranger would come in and throw out everything.

Those are two strategies that would get my cooperation.
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Bermuda, yes, you are absolutely correct...I don't get it. I admit it. I am ignorant as h*ll as to what dealing with an actual hoarder entails... And yes, I was basing my views totally on the show alone....and you know what they show on there, and yeah, that's really, really extreme.

I have no experience whatsoever with a hoarder parent, and yes, you're right, I can totally see how my actions with an elderly person NOT in those extremes could result in a restraining order... Again, I was basing my view only on the hoarders shows that I've seen...which were mind boggling, and the only example of hoarding, with the exception of one of my mom's renters, that I've ever seen. . In THAT case, I would do as I said in my previous posts.

The way you described how it all works is unbelievable...that adult children could and are trying to help their parents, but get blown off because it's 'not bad enough', then get blamed later when it is...I mean, can I say wtf? Talk about wanting to beat your head against the wall with frustration! No, I admit, I have no knowledge or experience with all of these dynamics at all....I'm only going by what the tv show itself is presenting, which are really inhuman conditions... And yeah, I've often wondered to myself watching that show how in the world it came to that...it's not just where were the kids, but what about friends, neighbors? Don't they notice anything, or try and help? I didn't realize that a lot of these hoarders were mentally sound...I assumed, based on the show, that they had serious mental issues and couldn't look after themselves...

I appreciate your perspective on it all. I admit to being fascinated by the show, and I've always had questions but no answers...thanks for shedding some light on this situation for me, it clears up a lot of things for me now, and helps me to understand the whole thing a little better... *hugs*
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Standingalone, I admire your fire but please know that I say this respectfully that you don't get it. If you lived it having such a parent you would get it, but again I wouldn't wish this on anyone not even for their greater understanding. If you were to do as you say, the hoarder parent in question would call the police on you and unless their living conditions were extreme their status as a competent adult would allow them to get a restraining order against you and ban you from their home. And they would. Whatchagonnado then? The Hoarders shows only cover the most extreme situations, though most hoarding situations are similar still quite distressing and unhealthy, but do not qualify for the adult to be declared incompetent and legally removed from their home. I cannot tell you how many heartbreaking stories there are on the net of APS being called in by an adult child of a hoarder but they refuse to act because the situation isn't bad enough yet in their eyes. Many hoarders are mentally sound outside of their problems in dealing with physical objects, extremely strong willed, and most definitely will assert their legal rights. Most of the tv shows sensationalize this issue and really skimp on showing what the real family dynamics are behind the situation. The irony is once it gets "bad enough" then the family gets blamed for not doing anything up to that point, but they literally could not. Now I hope for the OP's sake that her situation isn't as extreme as all that and that her mother has enough reasoning capacity to allow some help.
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When you go to visit your mom can you take her on some kind of outing, lunch maybe or a long drive, while a cleaning service comes in and cleans her house? Then when you get back you can smile, say "Surprise!!" to help her see what a wonderful thing a clean house is.
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Scratchiecat, I certainly can feel for you in this dreadful situation. I have been through a very similar problem and it did result in a trainwreck. My sister and I do not live in the same state as my parents. My father, smart and aggressive, at 91 was the caregiver to my 86 yo mother, with alzheimers and incontinence. He was getting weaker and was not giving her much attention but he made sure she she had two good meals a day. He was a wonderful husband but not such a wonderful caregiver in a fragile 91 yo state. The house was dirty, smelled and he refused any assistance of any kind. He would become angry and we knew that if he got angry enough, he would keep us from seeing mother. So we smiled and visited often but did little but sneak clean bathrooms and counters. I did call APS, twice, and they can do nothing unless they see eminent risk, and dirty doesnt mean anything to them (this is in FL). I contacted their insurance social worker and she offered them home health care nursing and was refused. The nurse did come out to check my mother and was so appauled by the house, she called APS as well. Dad was upset everytime APS came out but he showed them the house, and that they had plenty of food and mother looked well fed and not abused, so they left again. He never gave us keys to the house, and never relaxed his position on helping mom. So we passively waited for the trainwreck to happen, and it did as expected when he fell in a weakened state. They both got sent to the hospital, then nursing home, where my father passed away 50 days after the fall. My mother is quite happy at the nursing facility where she gets 24 hour attention and sees her granddaughter every day, bearing fresh fruit, comic strips and games to play. The place is clean and friendly, and dads retirement money is paying for the $278 a day. But if we could have gotten them to chose assistance a couple of years back, this could have been so much easier on the whole family. My father, a strong willed brilliant man, was also tyrannical when it came to protecting his lifestyle and we didnt kick down the door to make them change for the better. We saw the end was coming soon and we let them choose, but kept a close eye (daily contact on the phone and monthly visits.) And the house, well it needed ServicePro to come clean, remove all carpets and treat mildew and mold. We had to update all the plumbing, replace fuse box, replace all the appliances and countertops. We did that with expectations that they would recover enough to return home with a home health care nurse, but that never happened.
My situation was different but similar, and yours is about your mother---which you will have to choose how to handle it. The dirty house isnt the real problem, its a strong indication that her condition is worsening and she is unable to handle basic chores. She may be suffering from depression as well, and denial that she needs help can also be her pushing people away due to that. Or the senior who fears that someone will come in and harm them, so never accept help as it may be a scam or con artist. (My father would tell off neighbors who offered to mow his lawn!)
If I could imagine a scenerio that would work for my parents, it would be to offer them a little getaway---load them in the car and go with them to a place they always loved or wanted to see that wasnt dreadfully far and keep them in a hotel (cost $450) for a couple of days (to see beach, ride train, see grandchild or see a specialist in a city) and then have the Servicepro people come in and do the house in 24 hours (cost about $1500---worth it!) Have a home inspector come out at the same time and make sure the house is safe (cost $100.) Then when they come back, the house would be clean, you would know if the fridge actually keeps food cold or the a/c works, and it would be acceptable for home health care aid to come and see your parent weekly. And you would have the home inspection to know what needs to be done and can prove it to them. Of course, they would be angry but you just tell them it is their birthday or anniversary present and you are sorry they dont like it---so you wont do it again. Well, that is my daydream scenerio and things dont work that way except in a daydream...but you do have multiple siblings that can come up with a sneaky solution like that to make it seem more apt to happen. To me that is better than fighting and dragging someone out the door of their own house, stressing their already fragile body and psyche.
It is still their life. But you want to ease the burden of cleaning and upkeep on a house. Assisted living or a senior community apartment is really the best solution but you have to have money and someone who will agree to that. But it will help your sisters and you not worry so much.
My heart goes out to you. It is a difficult situation and you must make a decision. Make it with love and courage and perhaps you can avoid the trainwreck that ultimately comes with going down this hill.
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My father's (also 88) house was heading in that direction when Hurricane Sandy hit and he had to evacuate.He had no choice but to come live with my family in a much safer, cleaner home. I told him and my brother that I could not in good conscience let him go back to his house after the storm. Luckily they agreed with me. Could you come up with some made up reason for her to have to leave the house immediately, perhaps a suspected gas leak? Once she is out of the house and safe, then you can see to getting the house cleaned and make a decision about where she should live in the future. The most important thing is that she is safe.
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V, I agree...Obviously someone older can't do what I just described...but somebody should, imo... And yes, I agree totally, that even someone older can help in the parent's house, empty trash, do dishes, etc... it seems the right thing to do... The problem I have is with the people I've seen on the show itself...these were not elderly adult children...we're talking people in their 40's and 50's wouldn't or couldn't seem to find it within them to take any action at all...they just felt powerless and lost somehow...I'm not getting them at all...older adults dealing with this, yeah, I get that they probably couldn't handle the whole situation, but people my age? I mean, what gives? Some of those people on hoarders live close by...why didn't they help in the home? These are the ones I question, those that I actually saw on the show, that seemingly could have done something, but just...didn't...

And Veronica, the way I see it, if a human being is living in sub par conditions, then they've already been reduced to the level of animals...and that's exactly how I'd treat them. They'd be out of there, just like a dog tied in someone's yard that I saw... Our neighbors had a puppy long ago. The dog was outside, chained to a dog house. No food. No water. Temps in the high 90's. I went over there and fed and watered that dog, after I noticed that the dog was literally in the sun all d*mn day, day after day, with nobody in sight... I went over there one day when they were gone, unchained that dog, and stole it. I had found someone to take it in before hand, and it ended up with a family friend of ours. They still have it.

An elder in these conditions, I consider to be one h*ll of an abused animal. As far as I'm concerned, certain feelings in the hoarder at a certain point wouldn' t really matter much if they're lying in a bed covered in fleas and cat poop... Yes, you respect them...but you don't ask what they want in that situation, you act in an honorable way and get them the h*ll out.

I'm not talking about someone who has one room full of say, a doll collection that stuffs the room, every corner in it, and reaches the ceiling...let them have it. I'm talking about feces, pee, and utter filth. I wouldn't care what my mom had to say if she were in a house like that. Frankly, her feelings be d*mned at that point.
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First order of business scratiecat is to get your mother evaluated and if necessary treated for ADHD. It is not much fun being mentally ill. People flit from one thing to the next and never get anything done. if they are not treated they turn to drinking gallons of caffeinated beverages, alcohol and illegal drugs. anything that gives them a high calms them down. Are you relying on the friend's assessment of your mothers living conditions? You need to go there yourself and evaluate. friends and other outsiders often exaggerate what they have seen because something appears to them more horrendous than the standards they maintain. Standing Alone you certainly have the fire in your belly thins morning and in principle I absolutely agree but the other side of the coin is that most of the caregivers of the elderly are elderly themselves with health problems of their own and just can not take on the task or even face involving authorities, so it is easier to take in food do the dishes and take Mom's clothes home to wash but a battle over hoarding, that's not true, she has always been like that. Growing up she found stuff and fixed it up, otherwise we'd be sleeping on the floor. She just does not have the energy to fix things now so they sit in the garage. It is a very sad situation and something needs to be done. But we are dealing with a living breathing person who may be mentally ill but still has feelings, not rescuing an abused animal.
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