Follow
Share

She is living in filth, multiple fall-risk obstacles in every square inch, rotting food in and out of the frig. When I try to talk to her about getting the house cleaned and de-cluttered (great understatement) she screams at me "just let me live until I die!" Does anyone have any suggestions? A year ago a visiting nurse made a hotline call due to the condition of the house. Two rooms were cleaned (kitchen and bathroom) and the investigator told her the rest of the house must be cleaned as well. He never showed up again. The place is worse than it was a year ago. In fact, it was trashed again within two weeks. I am losing my mind. any suggestions? I have almost decided to stop trying to do anything. My blood pressure is rising. Her doctor told me there is nothing I can do about it as long as she is "mentally competent."

Find Care & Housing
97YEAROLDMOM: Thank you for the information. I will definitely read those materials.
Maddyruth: I love your suggestion, and we tried that while she was in the hospital for a week last year. We barely got the kitchen and bathroom cleaned before she came home. She has been bitterly complaining for a year about how we threw out her valuable things (i.e., full bags of old bread bags and old butter tubs, container of old used toothbrushes, among other things) and has said she will never let anyone in her house again if she's not there. It will take about a year to clean her house from top to bottom. Maybe only two weeks, full-time, every day, to clean the kitchen and bathroom again. I'll read the suggested articles and books. I'm pretty sure I'm headed for counseling/therapy for myself so that I can cope with this situation without having a heart attack or stroke from high blood pressure. Thanks again to everyone for their comments.
Helpful Answer (1)
Reply to guiltandanger
Report

Have someone take her out to lunch and shopping and then clean it from top to bottom before she returns,
Helpful Answer (1)
Reply to Maddyruth
Report

GuiltandAnger
Since you are headed in a different direction from what your mom’s doctor recommended I wanted to suggest an article to you about the mental illness of obsessive compulsive disorder and hoarding. While there are many types of mental illness, they don’t all lead to being incompetent. Your mothers hoarding alone doesn’t equal incompetence.

www.elementsbehavioralhealth.com/dual-diagnosis/hoarding-a-compulsive-mental-disorder/amp/

This link leads to a very informative article on hoarding and how to help a loved one with this disorder.
Your mom’s case is text book.
The article has suggestions for treatment. Tips about how to speak to her and address the issue.
She’s 87 and not likely to change. Read “Being Mortal” by Atul Gawande and perhaps it will help you shift your attitude about your mom’s end of life choices. It’s a good reminder that it is her life.

As you have already experienced first hand cleaning her home is not a solution...it lasted two weeks last time. I hate to think what you and your mom both went through the last time for those two weeks.
Here is a paperback book they recommend.
“Buried in Treasures: Help for Compulsive Acquiring, Saving and Hoarding” by David F. Tolin, Randy O. Frost, and Gail Steketee.
Helpful Answer (1)
Reply to 97yroldmom
Report

Thank you for all of your comments and suggestions. I have one sibling, a brother who is in capable of making a decision and is living in denial about the condition of our mother's house. So, I just might have to call the hotline myself. This breaks my heart.
Helpful Answer (1)
Reply to guiltandanger
Report

My MIL (depression era person) saved EVERYTHING.When I visited, I would always try to make things a little better than when I arrived. BUT you can't let them see you doing it! I always walked in with a large bag --- into it went the expired food and frig science experiments.
One day hubby and I visited and with some coaxing, she did part with 2 vacuum cleaners that were no longer being used (and by that time she had a cleaning person coming in bi-weekly). Ditto on craft materials she could no long do (7 boxes ) --- and I told her that a local org was collecting for immigrants. (The craft stuff did get donated, but the vacuum cleaners were shot) When she went into the bathroom, I'd fly into drawers and cabinets to get rid of things.
Fast forward, when we moved her from independent living to assisted, we filled 17 contractor's bags with garbage. This from a one bedroom apt!!!. It included food items that were 6 years past the expiration date (guess I didn't do that great a job after all!), Ripped/bloody girdles (she was 95 years old), etc.
She never caught me taking her stuff and there was minor memory loss at the time, but I felt like I was doing the right thing. And she would never see that it was gone but if I asked, she would also not let me take it. Leave the top items in place and remove what you can - but not so much that it it noticeable. Good luck
Helpful Answer (2)
Reply to geewiz
Report

Sounds like your mom is content. Maybe she is like the people that were featured on the show "Hoarders" There was one lady that had rotting food on the floor (a pumpkin I believe) and she still thought it was good to use.
Helpful Answer (1)
Reply to shad250
Report

Where was the investigator from, Adult Protective Services? If so, you need to call them back and reopen her case. She is not mentally competent. She should probably go to a geriatric psychiatrist for testing. If you have ever watched any of the hoarding shows, you know that even when professional cleaners and support people come out to these houses, people who are trained to deal with hoarding, the person who is the hoarder can and usually does have a hysterical and infuriated reaction to throwing anything, even rotten food, away. Their vitriol is usually aimed at the family members who are there to help.

You can’t do this on your own. You need professional help and a team of people who know what they’re doing to help you. Try calling your local area Agency on Aging and ask if they know of any groups who specialize in dealing with hoarders. Just s thought, but I remember my daughter’s neighbor was a hoarder. Even across the parking lot, you could smell the stench coming from his condo. When he went into a facility and someone bought the condo, the buyer told us horror stories of what they found inside including human feces in the upstairs hallway. Everything had to be stripped right down to the wall studs. Other condos in her area sell for upwards of $100,000. This man’s sold for $20,00 and was for sale for 3 years. Maybe try the resale value on your mom?
Helpful Answer (2)
Reply to Ahmijoy
Report

Her doctor is right.
Helpful Answer (4)
Reply to 97yroldmom
Report

Subscribe to
Our Newsletter