My mother's hoarding is getting dangerous. My siblings refuse to help. I am her primary caregiver. How can I help her? We never lived like this as children.

Follow
Share

as children. I understand why she hoards but cannot convince her to let me help even though she admits that I respect her things. She is 83 but was already hoarding when my father died 7 months ago. The situation is much worse now. I am worried about fire and her falling over something. None of my siblings live nearby and ignore the chaos when they come.She is clean and her bathrooms are clean. She rarely uses her kitchen. I am at a loss as to what to do. The house is huge(6 bedrooms), but she is about to run out of room. Has anyone else found a way to help a parent who hoards? Thank you!

This question has been closed for answers. Ask a New Question.
7

Answers

Show:
nfm1976: You put the caregiver's life in a nutshell when you said, "In summary, I am going to "take the fall" for doing something that I believe is right." My version of it is, "no good deed goes unpunished." It never ceases to amaze me that the people who actually do something proactive to help their parents are the ones who get all the grief.
You are on the right track in finding a therapist who specializes in hoarding behavior - it may help. On the other hand, your Mom needs to be ready to accept that change is needed. If she refuses and continues to undo your good work, I would not clean her house again until she gets help. Your Mom is holding everyone hostage with her bad behavior. You deal with it head on, your father stays out of her way, your brother overeats, and your sister avoids. Your Mother is the source of the chaos in your family and I really hope you can get her to therapy.
Helpful Answer (0)
Report

It took me two weeks of cleaning and, although the apartment is not perfect, it is livable. Now I sit here waiting for my family to return. I don't expect a good reaction. I have a younger brother who is 32 and still lives with my parents and he is morbidly obese. I let him know what I have done and he is furious. He thinks that she should be allowed to do whatever she wants and that I am being self-righteous. My sister, who is 30 and lives on the West Coast, told me that she doesn't have the "emotional bandwith" to support me in what I have done. Finally, my father agreed with me that there is a problem, but he is afraid of her reaction. In summary, I am going to "take the fall" for doing something that I believe is right. My mother would hit us when we were younger and when we grew to be too big for that, she developed started with the theatrics (crying, ranting, etc.) I would like to know if anyone has the contact information for a therapist (who speaks spanish) and could assist me in my hoarding intervention.
Helpful Answer (1)
Report

I have lived with a hoarder mother since childhood. She is a very angry woman and my father and siblings do not have the guts to confront her about her problem. I would confront her many times and it would be World War 3. At 18, I moved away and rarely came home. Now I am 35, I am about to be a dad, and I don't want my children to see my mother living this way. I even dream of them being able to come over for a dinner or a sleepover.

I decided to clean out her apartment while my family was away on vacation. The things I discovered during this process were horrifying. The house has a full-blown infestation of cockroaches. There are mounds and piles of dirty clothes. There is half-eaten food everywhere.
Helpful Answer (0)
Report

In addition to my earlier post....Mom was an inpatient for a while so I took that time she was away to try to sort thru her things. It was important to find her papers for ID, bank accounts etc. Thru the piles I found assorted money never much at a time but be careful some was hidden in stuff like plants, pockets of clothes and various odd places. It was enough to by a few lunches. I heard a story about a woman who was in a rehab and her sweet son thought he would surprize her with a new bed he threw out old one she had over 1 million stashed in the bed. So proceed with caution!! The plan for her care was for me to move to her house it made more sense economically as I was renting and Mom was paying for empty house. By the way my sister cleaned out the fridge and her 6 year old helped more than she another day but I basically filled 3 dumpsters and filled many good will bins all while Mom was with me and I had to sneak it all because my sister would not help, she would not even stay with her for an hour at a time so I could get it done easier. I would throw things out turn around it was back in the house or Mom would wonder down the street and I would have to retrieve her. My sister acted like I was having fun and all that she would say when I asked her to help out or take Mom for a while is "You wanted this" She thought my motives were based on greed and I was gaining something While overlooking the entire reality of the situation which was Mom needed 24/7 care!!! And her house was filled with STUFF!!! Did I mention Mom had a flood and the house was mold infested and a nice handywoman who lived in town helped me clean that up and another friend of mine clean out the gutters which was cause of the flood. I did all that cleaning and careing for Mom and worked 45 hours a week (mom was with aid only 30 hours came with me to my beauty shop job for 10 hours my boss understood) and I lived 45 min from house. I was also dealing with medicaid and other applications for charity to cover bills, mega phone calls, which Mom could not hear me talking about on phone, making copies and what else OH YES MYSELF!!!! My sister would complain if I asked her to go to the drug store to get moms meds. Now my Mom is in NH on medicaid and is hoarding anything she can get her hands on. All my sister has to do now is visit and shes still mad about having to cosign checks as POA (MOMs money), because I thought at the begining she was going to help because "shes the responsable one"LOL, and she gives me a hard time about that. Mission Impossible was Mission accomplished by me and a little help from good people who cared and understood. Wow that felt good getting that out!!!!!!!! AHHHHHHHHHHHHH
Helpful Answer (0)
Report

I appreciate both answers I have received. My mother was a child of the Depression. Although her father kept his job and life did not change that much, I think part of her hoarding stems from that issue. She is an intelligent person who loves to find ways to reuse items. Also, she treasures parts of our childhood when life was very good for her. I respect her desire to save the things that matter to her, and she has verbalized that she knows that I would not do anything without her permission. In addition, she keeps saying that she wants to change things. I feel the need to be the gentle catalyst that helps that change to occur. We have come a long way to reach this point, and I may have to be patient and wait a little longer. Women in our family tend to live very independent lives up into their late nineties, so she knows she needs to change things.
Helpful Answer (0)
Report

I have more sympathy for this situation than you can imagine. My Mom was always a shopaholic she'd buy beautiful things with the idea and theme in mind to decorate but started and just got more stuff than room to put the stuff. So noone could stop her it was completely beyond control. I grew up with her hoarding progressively getting worse. Piles turned into mounds then turned into mounds with paths etc. I knew this was not normal but as a child, I just lived with it. She wasn't a dirty, filthy hoarder, garbadge was garbage for the most part. Her parents by the way were minamalists (if that's a word) so maybe that's why she kept everything. I was the one who stepped up when the sh-- hit the fan! After a stay at a behavioral health hospital unit, Mom was diagnosed with cognative impairment dementia. So I was the only willing person to clean up the mess ( that's putting it lightly). I will finish this at a later time.
Helpful Answer (0)
Report

RLP:

Confronting her behavior isn't going to work, as she'll probably tune you out. Your approach, therefore, can be the key to alleviating the problem. To this end, I lifted the following tips from a website:

SHOW EMPATHY. Showing empathy doesn't necessarily mean you agree with everything the person says. But it does mean you are willing to listen and to try to see things from the other person's perspective.

DON'T ARGUE. There is simply no point in arguing about hoarding. The harder you argue, the more the person is likely to argue back. The only solution is to get out of the argument.

RESPECT AUTONOMY. Remember, most of you are dealing with an adult who has freedom of choice about her own possessions. Try to engage your loved one in a discussion (rather than an argument) about the home and her behavior. Ask your loved one what she wants to do, rather than just telling her what you want: "What do you think you would like to do about the clutter in the home?" "How do you suggest we proceed?"

HELP THE PERSON RECOGNIZE THAT HIS/HER ACTIONS ARE INCONSISTENT WITH HIS/HER GREATER GOALS OR VALUES. Ask the person about her goals and values: "What's really important to you in life? How would you like your life to be five years from now? What are your hopes and goals in life?" Discuss whether the person's acquiring or difficulty organizing or getting rid of things fit with those goals and values. This is most effective if you ask, rather than tell: "How does the condition of your home fit with your desire to be a good grandmother? You've told me that friendships are very important to you; how well can you pursue that goal, given the way things are right now?"

If you have been accustomed to arguing and threatening and blaming, your new approaches will surprise your loved one, and it may take a little time before the person begins to trust you. Try these methods in several conversations and notice whether the balance seems to be tilting in the right direction. If so, be patient and keep up the good work.
Helpful Answer (2)
Report

This question has been closed for answers. Ask a New Question.