Hi everyone. Thank you in advance for any advice you can give me. My mom didn't raise me; my grandparents did. I'm 58 so my relationship with my mom has been a strained frustrating one for a LONG time. And I've been in therapy forever...due to this relationship. She is 77 and lives in a hoarding filthy house that I haven't been inside for over 25 years. She doesn't have heat or running water and lives in a home that is falling apart. It should be condemned. We are in the north so it is freezing in the house.

She sleeps in a chair with several blankets in the landfill living room as the rest of the house is not accessible except for the kitchen and it is horrible beyond belief from what she tells me. I did stand at the door a few months ago and she couldn't even open it more than a few inches due to the garbage.

The funny thing is she dresses immaculately (name brand only) and gets her hair done weekly along with a mani and pedi. She barely brings in $1K a month in SS. Luckily her home is paid for but worth nothing due to the condition. She was willed the house by my grandparents 40 years ago.

The deal is, I have been trying for years to get her into a senior living environment and have applied to numerous low-income senior apartments. She has turned down several. I live out of state from her and cannot go with her unfortunately so I have no idea what she says to the managers of these places. She usually tells me that she makes too much money and they turned her down. That's a lie.

Anyway, she has an appointment next week and is already making excuses about the location, size of the apartment, stove size, no room for her clothes, etc. (It was her selection so I am not even sure what to say anymore.) I'm tired of dealing with her after spending hours researching and filling out applications or calling on her behalf I just know she will not take this place.

She insists on staying with me in the winter in my small 1 bedroom apartment. I work from home so this is not a good mix. One time she even told me to turn down my computer (I was on an MS Teams meeting) so she could hear her TV show. I am at the end of my rope. Does anyone have any advice? I would love to go no contact but I feel guilty. She's 77 and has no one due to her caustic personality. I am her only child.

What should I do?

Sorry for the long post. I'm near a nervous breakdown. If she turns this place down, she will insist on coming here (via bus) and stay for the rest of the winter. I can't. :-(

Why do you allow her to stay with you? Tell her "no".

Why should she accept the apartment when you are enabling her to say "no" to you?

Value your own mental health and physical comfort.

And find a different therapist who will push you to stand up for yourself, if the current one doesn't.
Helpful Answer (11)
Reply to BarbBrooklyn
eastwest97 Feb 9, 2023
Hi BarbBrooklyn. Thank you so much for your feedback. You are all are spot on in evaluating my situation and my own mental self-care. Sadly I have been in therapy for years and have this pathetic need to be the "good daughter" even though she was not a good mother. It's like I turn into my 8-year-old self when I have to deal with her and I am not good with confrontation. I am starting to draw some boundaries though. I used to call her several times a week and now I only call her once on Sundays. So I am getting there, slowly. Thank you again Barb.
First of all, you should never have allowed your mother to come and stay at your place because soon enough the gloves will be coming off and she will refuse to leave.
What she really wants is to live with you and to maintain her hoard. She's going to sabotage the meeting next week for the apartment unless you go with her.
Hoarding is an addiction. Hoarders are the same as any other addict. They will manipulate their enablers and do what they have to so they can remain active in their addiction. You have become her enabler by letting her stay with you. Nothing and no one can help your mother unless she's willing to accept help.
Your mother like any other addict needs some tough love from their enabler. So you're up, my friend.
Here's the choice you should offer her. Either she accepts the apartment she's going for next week, or you have her evicted from your place. No exceptions. Make sure she knows you're serious and mean business.
In the meantime, while she's at your house put in a call to the Department of Public Health in the city/town she lives in. Tell them about the dangerous and filthy hoard that she calls home which is no doubt infested with vermin and bugs as well as filth and garbage. You can even make this an annonymous call. They will condemn the house and rightly so.
If your mother has no hoard to return to, it will force her to accept help for her addiction, and at 77 is she doesn't accept help for the hoarding addiction, the state will put her in facility care. There's nothing to hoard in a nursing home.
Good luck to you. Stay strong.
Helpful Answer (11)
Reply to BurntCaregiver

Good answers so far. She is mentally ill. Unlikely there is anything you can do for her without a court order. She will not change. Make taking care of yourself a priority. Do not feel guilty for what she has become, it was her doing, not yours.
Helpful Answer (9)
Reply to Frank1776
Sendhelp Feb 9, 2023
Good to see you here on the forum after the most recent loss of your dear wife.
I believe that what you are doing, in helping others, will help you somehow.
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Well, if your watch any TV at all, you'll see that hoarding has become very much in the forefront of mental illnesses that are literally destroying people's lives--their homes, their health and everything that surround them.

I have dealt, personally with enough hoarders (both clean and 'dirty' and it sounds like your mom is a 'dirty' hoarder) to know that without help, they will not make one step towards change of any kind. And the rate of recidivism is sky high--the ONLY hoarder I saw who 'got well' was a man whose only daughter simply got legal guardianship of him and had his apt cleaned and then moved him to a place she can keep a weekly eye on him. His hoarding tendencies are still very much there--he simply isn't given enough money to really DO anything with it, and she either has a cleaner go in once a week or she cleans his place. She said it was the only way, after 40+ years of living in squalor that he has had food in the house instead of liquor and has no way to GET alcohol--etc. etc. It's brutal on her, her family and her life, but it's the ONLY way to keep him in check.

You call APS and report the house. INSIST that they do a real 'safety check' not just a quick peek inside. They need to see what you see. Sadly, this isn't going to go well with mom, but right now, you are just one huge enabler. If it's possible, meet the APS people at the house and walk them through. I had to report a 'friend' and APS agents just stood at the door and glanced around. I MADE them come in and see what she had 'hidden'. so to speak. It was awful and she was cited and also offered help.

Your mom isn't dumb, she's actually very crafty, b/c she probably KNOWS you won't kick her out. But you need to get to your therapist and learn the 'language' that you'll need to to get her out of your life and home so you can have peace and space. My therapist was great at giving me actual 'scripts' as to what to say to people who were difficult for me.

There's always a chance she'll get the new apartment, but I wouldn't offer to help her move, unless I was totally prepared for a horrible experience--which she will blame YOU for.

Good Luck, you will need it.
Helpful Answer (8)
Reply to Midkid58

eastwest, you wrote: " therapist is great and does provide me scripts however I am not good with confrontations. My mom gets irate and cusses at me and I just shut down. So it is ME but then again, am thinking of changing therapists as I have been this way for many years and I've been seeing her for 5 or 6."

"... I am not handling this very forceful or adult-like."

eastwest, you are insightful. You know your weakness. You are also right about changing therapist. S/he should have guided you on how to become stronger, more confident, more self-assured. Handing you perfect scripts is useless since you have no ability to use them. It's like telling you how to chop down a big old tree, but all you have is a plastic knife.

You should stop wasting money on this useless therapist. Time to find a better one who can teach you baby steps that you must take for yourself in order to build your confidence.

Same thing with all the good advice you receive here, if you aren't able to put them in practice, then they are of no use.
Helpful Answer (8)
Reply to polarbear
AlvaDeer Feb 9, 2023
I so agree. A therapist needs to be STRONG< needs to make us uncomfortable, needs to shake us up and get us out of habitual ways of thinking in which the only praise we get is for whining. I had a friend who told me that her therapist told her she would need therapy all her life. I told her that either meant the therapist was worthless or she needed to be locked up.
Sadly, you're not going to fix her hoarding. It's a very powerful mental illness with a huge recidivism rate.

Don't let her live with you in the winter. I know it sounds cruel and harsh, but you cannot give your life over to her. APS can help, but at no point should you acquiesce to her staying with you. "I am unable to care for her safely." Hard stop, no further discussion. Social services will do everything they can to change your mind. As another post talked about, our society is not equipped to care for the huge population of people needing care facilities.

If you want to stay in touch, meet her after she gets her nails done for lunch. But protect yourself. A mother should want to protect her child, but so many forget that as they age.

Hang in there.
Helpful Answer (7)
Reply to TeethGrinder65
eastwest97 Feb 9, 2023
Hi TeethGrinder65. Thank you for your encouragement. I did not expect the feedback you all are providing me and I am so thankful for you taking the time to give your thoughts.

I agree with you about social services trying to push her care off on me and that really scares me. But you are right. I have to stand up for myself. I am losing my mind and it really is just saying "No". I don't know why this is so hard for me.

Thank you again TeethGrinder65!
There is a reason why ur grandparents raised you. What gets me is she has no water and tje Township has not stepped in. Where I live when the water is shut off for non-payment the people are told they can't stay on the property. It's unhealthy to have no running water.

You need to call APS. They need to evaluate her situation. Let them take over. They will find her a place, maybe a NH. Let the State become her guardian.

On 1k a month your Mom can't afford anything but HUD housing. Were u planning on paying for her rent? If so, you shouldn't. There is help out there.
Helpful Answer (7)
Reply to JoAnn29
eastwest97 Feb 9, 2023
Hi JoAnn29. Thank you for your thoughts and feedback. My mom's pipes froze and burst but she is still "getting" water to the house. My stepfather (they are no longer together)turned the valve off years ago to stop the flooding. So the city has not stepped in and she receives a small water bill every 3 months so they don't realize she cannot attain water. The furnance quit working over 28 years ago and she will not allow anyone in the house to even look at it.

Yes, I have only applied for low-income for her. You are right, she can't afford anything else but she doesn't want to spend the 30% for an apartment as she has had no rent for over 40 years due to being given the house by my grandparents. And sadly, I have offered to pay for a studio for her but she didn't want it because it was too small for all her clothes.

And I do plan on helping her with her rent if she does take the apartment but only 1/2 not full rent. I know...I'm a sucker.

Sorry I'm giving so much information...I'm just venting and in a tailspin.

Thank you JoAnn29. Appreciate your feedback.
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I've read your replies to the responses here. You getting therapy is not going to help your mother's hoarding addiction.
You can talk about it with a therapist for the rest of your life, but it isn't going to address her problem or the problem of you being her enabler so she can maintain her hoard and stay active in her hoarding addiction.
She's manipulating you to be her enabler because she is an addict like any other.
I was manipulated to enable my first husband for 12 years. He was an alcoholic. The addiction is different but the behavior and tactics of the addict are the same.
You need to make sure your mother knows she is being thrown out of your place. No exceptions. Either she takes the apartment or she gets placed in a care facility.
Of course you feel for your mother and want to help her. Of course it doesn't feel very good when you have to be hard on a person. Sometimes it's necessary to be hard on a person and always on an addict. It's the only way they will ever consider help and recovery.
If you're having a nervous breakdown the cause of it is not your mother. You don't even live in the same state as this woman. You have not been to her house in 25 years. You have your own place and are independent. You do not depend on your mother for anything. You have choices. Working yourself up into a nervous breakdown over your mother showing up to stay with you is ridiculous. I hope for your sake your therapist has told you this.
If you don't want your mother staying at your place, she will not be. You may have to be a little mean. You may have to involve APS. Do what you have to do, but please don't make your 77 year old elderly mother the reason why you an independent, self-sufficient, functioning adult works themselves up into a nervous breakdown. Don't do that to yourself.
Helpful Answer (7)
Reply to BurntCaregiver
sp19690 Feb 9, 2023
Great advice. I really hope the OP listens.
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Your mother cusses at you and becomes irate?


So what? (I stole this from Needshelpwithmom's therapist).

What are you afraid of?

That she'll cut you off (that would be a good thing, wouldn't it?)
That she won't love you any more? (Is what she's doing now called love?)

Look, we all wish that we have/had perfect loving mommies. But we don't. Some of us have/had "good enough" mothers. You don't.

You have a mentally ill mother.

Your job is NOT to fix her. Your job is to survive her.

The only way she gets help is if you call APS. Again and again and again. Eventually they will step in.

YOU need to stay away and keep your mother away from you. Feel grief, not guilt.

This is NOT your fault.
Helpful Answer (7)
Reply to BarbBrooklyn
eastwest97 Feb 10, 2023
I needed to hear that BarbBrooklyn. You are so isn't like I will be losing love, empathy or motherly closeness. I love her because she is a human being but I do not like her at all.

One time my therapist did say..."would you like her as a neighbor or coworker?" And that was a big fat NO. So she said..."then why put up with her as your mother?" It did change my perspective some but again, I walk around with this guilt which is MY issue that I need to change.

Thank you for your "tough" love talk BarbBrooklyn. I really do understand where you are coming from and it makes a lot of sense.
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First off she can insist anything she wants, it is up to you to say "No" I cannot have you here for the winter, you interfere with my job.

Time to stand up and be counted and stop letting her control you.

As for the other mess, let her be, eventually something will happen. She is mentally ill, she will never change,

You need some help to stand up to her, a therapist might be of help to you.
Helpful Answer (6)
Reply to MeDolly
BurntCaregiver Feb 8, 2023
You're right as usual, MeDolly. Hoarding is an addiction though and the one thing that all addicts seek out is enablers.
Taking the mother in for the winter will enable her to keep her hoard through the winter at least while not having to stay in the house with no heat. I hope the mother will go into the apartment and into recovery for her hoarding addiction.
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