Follow
Share

My adult sister still lives with my mother and is a hoarder. My mother fell 2 years ago and had to be placed in a nursing home because she broke her leg. While in the nursing home I gathered a lot of people and cleaned out the 3 bedroom apartment except 2 of the bedrooms for my mother's safety. My sister has filled the house again and it looks as though we never cleaned it out. My mother has since fallen again and broke her other leg. She has recovered and since moved back to the same apartment. My mother defends my sister and will not help herself. They have cut off all contact with family and will not answer phone calls from anyone accusing everyone who tries to help a thief as we had to remove a lot of items from the apartment to make sure my mother could move around safely. The items were not stolen they were donated to the goodwill. I am very concerned about my mother and her well-being. I don’t know if I can do anything because my mother defends my sister and states my sister is too ill to clean. I don’t think my sister should be a caregiver if she is unable to care for herself. What should I do next? Please help!!

So sorry that your mom broke her leg.

Call APS. I don’t know if anything will come from it but the hoarding issue will be on file as a reference.

She has a mental disorder. She is unlikely to change.
Helpful Answer (0)
Reply to NeedHelpWithMom
Report

Your mother is an adult, not your minor child. As some others mentioned unless she’s duly incompetent she has her own free will to live life as she chooses with whom she chooses. She is choosing to live with your sister. You seem to feel as if you have a right to go into their home, take their things and “donate them to goodwill” — you took their belongings without their permission. If you had a hoarding situation in your home with your things that’s when you get to remove items and donate them. Do it to other people’s things is otherwise known as stealing. It doesn’t matter if you kept the items, sold them online, donated them to goodwill ( some people get tax write offs for donating things to goodwill) respect their boundaries their place their choices and don’t take others belongings
Helpful Answer (1)
Reply to Sarah3
Report

Imho, please contact Adult Protective Services.
Helpful Answer (1)
Reply to Llamalover47
Report

Call adult protective services for an evaluation. When you get a assigned case worker tell them "the above". and simply say I need help and my mother needs help. You are not going to "change" the hoarding and you are doing well in Piling up stuff so your mother can get around safely. That may have to be done every week until the place is unfit for your mother to live. The A.P.S. worker will then get her moved into a safe place. As you know you can not get a hoarder to quit. She has a mental problem that you are not capable to handle...you already know that.
Helpful Answer (0)
Reply to DKelso34
Report

I would suggest Adult Protective Services.

Best wishes!!
Helpful Answer (2)
Reply to xrayjodib
Report

Mat I suggest giving her an ultimatum. you may have to call adult protective services. Mom will not like it but she will later appreciate it. Maybe we'll see your family on hoarders or hoarding buried alive. But either way call aps and get your mom some help. I had to call for my uncle and the authorities made his grown adult son move out. And they check on him (my uncle) periodically to make sure there's no more hoarding.
Helpful Answer (3)
Reply to AgingCare33
Report

One way you might get help is to contact the property management and inform them of the hoarding. Most Management companies have policies that prohibit hoarding. This can effect property value, can effect neighbors as well. They may get the Health Department involved as well as the Code Enforcement Department, maybe even the Fire Department.
Your local Area Agency on Aging might also help.
If you truly think it is dangerous (and it sounds like it is) APS might also step in.

I am curious how you cleared out so much stuff while mom was in rehab...where was your sister? If she is a hoarder she would not just let you remove items from the house.
There is not a lot of info in your profile about mom or your sister.
How mobile is mom?
Is it possible that mom is a hoarder and your sister is enabling her as well as being a hoarder herself?
Helpful Answer (3)
Reply to Grandma1954
Report

Sounds like the sister needs to have a medical checkup to see if she's s in dementia. I understand about hoarders needs, but Mother needs a clear path to safety. You don't mention ages, but 2 broken legs in a few years is enough for me to get a doctor to sign a paper that safety is first and either clean up the apartment or Mom move in with someone else or someone will call a government agency for help in making a safe place for Mom.
Helpful Answer (1)
Reply to JoAnne80
Report

There is absolutely nothing you can do if your mom still has her mental capacities.

And actually, when you take things without permission it is stealing no matter your good intentions, rather you donate the items are not, as they are not yours to donate.

The only thing I can suggest if you really feel your mom is in danger is call and have a Senior Socual Worker check on your mom.

Keep in mind tho, that might be the last straw and your mom and sister might not ever talk to you again.

Alike kerp in mind that Senior Homes are Not Fun to live in, lonely, depressing and your more likely to get Covid.

Also, keep in mind that most Senior Homes are not staffed with enough help and people fall in Senior Homes too.

Even tho you may disagree on your mom's living arrangements, if your mom has her mental capacities, and you want to kerp a relationship with her, I suggest you bite your tongue and try to have pleasant visits with her and your sister.

Life is short.

Prayers
Helpful Answer (3)
Reply to bevthegreat
Report
disgustedtoo Dec 3, 2020
"...Senior Homes are Not Fun to live in, lonely, depressing..."

Opinion of bevthegreat and maybe some others. Opinion.
My mother is in a "Senior Home", if that's what you call it and they have LOTS of activities to keep the residents occupied, having fun, etc.

"...more likely to get Covid."

Highly dependent on location and protocols. There are plenty of older people who have gotten the virus from their own families in their own homes. Mom's facility managed to get to OCTOBER before one staff member tested positive. They scaled back and have been testing everyone (it is IL/AL/MC) and so far no one, no other staff and NO residents have tested positive.

I am NOT saying (and did not in my comment) that OP should move her mother there (you really can't, EVEN if she had cognitive issue, you can't force someone to move - THAT was legal advice from EC atty.) I'm just pointing out that not all residential facilities are alike. You can't judge all of them because you've never been in all of them. Are there crappy ones? Yup. Are there nice ones? Yup. There are all flavors between as well - WE the ones who care need to assess the place(s) we consider for a LO.

I've said it before and say it again now - should I need to move to AL or MC, I would choose the place mom is in and have told my kids that.
(2)
Report
See 2 more replies
Sounds like they are enabling each other. Your mother is in a dangerous situation. Hoarders are dangerous, to themselves and others. I guess maybe you should get the sister out and clean the place. Easier said then done. Good luck
Helpful Answer (0)
Reply to Isabelsdaughter
Report

The best you can really hope for with a hard core hoarder is to keep the food prep areas as clean as possible, take up throw rugs (terrible tripping hazards) keep open aisles for them to navigate through. Most hoarders will seem somewhat organized, with 'piles' of things--so to them, six or seven teetering piles of puzzle boxes as the same thing with heavy hard back books-- LOOKS organized. To an outsider, it looks like a possible hazard as it looks like it may come tumbling down at any second.

Counters jam-packed with 'stuff' can be somewhat organized, but as mother got more bent over, she cannot SEE about 4' off the ground, so she doesn't see what we see.

Same with piles and piles of newspapers and catalogs and mail. (Mom doesn't throw out her junk mail, she keeps it all.)

The best we could do was pack her PCH sweepstakes envelopes (23 years worth) in plastic bins and store them in the crawl space under her apt.

A call to APS would just resort in her being more upset and angry. Not worth it. I used to care a lot--I don't care at all anymore. I don't even go into her place.
Helpful Answer (1)
Reply to Midkid58
Report
rovana Dec 24, 2020
Very wise!! Concentrate on the big issues, like food, vermin, etc. Let the "messy" go. What bothers you probably does not bother her, so put your efforts into diplomatically improving safety.
(0)
Report
When we were trying to convince my mother to move to AL she asked me "what will happen to all my stuff?" She wasn't a hoarder, just had lots of stuff with memories attached. We finally agreed to go through the house with her, one drawer, one closet, on room at a time and let her decide what to keep, what to offer to relatives or neighbors, what to donate, and what to throw away. I think letting her make the decision made it easier.

And I told all relatives that if Mom offered them something to take it. What they did with it wasn't a concern. I realized Mom just wanted someone to desire the item as much as she did.

There was still a lot of stuff she wanted to keep so I rented a storage locker near her new place and if she asked for the item I would bring it to her. It was a constant effort to remove things she was accumulating but I could usually toss a few newspapers or magazines when she wasn't looking. Or I would ask to borrow the item and never mention it again.
Helpful Answer (3)
Reply to Frances73
Report

Could try calling APS, but that could be hit or miss. Honestly there's not much you can do to help someone who won't help themselves. Best for you to stop assisting them in anyway and wait until the inevitable happens.
Helpful Answer (1)
Reply to ZippyZee
Report
rovana Dec 24, 2020
IMO, the issue with hoarding depends greatly on whether we are talking about real safety/health issues or just clutter, which seems to really freak out some people. I'd like more elucidation of the problem here. You can fall and hoarding has nothing to do with it. In this case, I think OP is being high handed. Donating property not your own is stealing. Is there bad blood between these sisters? More info needed IMO.
(0)
Report
You don't mention whether your mother has any documented cognitive issues, aka dementia.

IF she is of "sound mind" (skip the mess for the moment), then there isn't really anything you can do. Calling APS or some other agency probably won't work. Either one of them can refuse to let them in or talk with them. As much as you want to help protect your mother, you probably can't if she's refusing help. If your mother were to be injured again, the hospital might call in APS to determine if there is elder abuse happening and if they are refused entry, they might be able to get court orders to assess the situation, but I wouldn't count on it.

IF she is NOT of sound mind, perhaps in the early stages of dementia, it *might* be possible to work with someone like a social worker at the hospital, if she falls and is injured again, to get that assessment and perhaps orders that she be moved to a safe environment. But, even that might not work.

Scary as it is, even those with dementia have "rights." After trying various ways to keep our mother in her own place, she refused the aides and refused to consider moving anywhere. The EC atty (we had all the legal stuff done long before, including POAs) told me we could NOT force her to move. He suggested guardianship. The facility we had chosen wouldn't take committals, so we had to "wing it." Due to the dementia, it was easy enough in our case to come up with a "fib" to make the move happen. Even when in MC, staff has told me they can't force residents to do anything they are refusing to do (medication, bathing, wound care, etc.) They have to get "creative" and find a way to coax them to do it or make them think it's their idea.

You obviously care for your mother and want her safe, but unless someone can determine that she has cognitive issues, most likely there isn't much you can do.
Helpful Answer (3)
Reply to disgustedtoo
Report

Next time you mother has an accident or fall , do not let her go back to the apartment. It is clearly not a safe place for your mother. Talk with social work at the hospital next time - and there will be a next time - to have mom moved to a senior living/assisted living apartment where you sister can not move in with her.

After mom is settled into a better living situation, you can then talk with sister about her problems with hoarding. Hoarding is a mental health illness - a variety of obsessive compulsive disorder. She will need to start therapy with a psychologist and probably have help clearing out her place. If her place has garbage or pests, please contact the health department.
Helpful Answer (2)
Reply to Taarna
Report
Sarah3 Dec 3, 2020
Note- falls happen in clean homes, in high rated assisted livings and nursing facilities with registered nurses- not due to hoarding.
(1)
Report
Honey, you need to call DSS immediatly. Have them come to the home and evaluate the entire situation. But please give them a heads up about how things in the home are. Then follow through on everything they recommend.
Helpful Answer (1)
Reply to Jazzy1349
Report

If you clean out a hoarders home, they'll just bring in another hoard, as you've seen. Hoarding is an anxiety disorder and as such, something that needs to be addressed by a licensed professional. And even then, it's not often a hoarder will change their habits. All their 'stuff' has value to them, including (sometimes) garbage, rotted food, litter, food wrappers, and other things you and I would throw in the trash. If your mother is defending your sister's behavior, then she too is a hoarder. Otherwise, she wouldn't be able to tolerate the living conditions she's willing to tolerate. The TWO of them are suffering from the same disorder.

There is little to nothing you can really 'do' about this, unfortunately. Like Daughterof1930 said, you can report the situation to APS, but it's not likely to change anything.

Wishing you the best of luck dealing with a dreadful situation where you feel helpless. It's not easy, and I'm sorry for the pain you're suffering.
Helpful Answer (4)
Reply to lealonnie1
Report

Report the situation to Adult Protective Services in your area. And know that hoarders seldom change.
Helpful Answer (3)
Reply to Daughterof1930
Report

You can call the Office of Aging, but likely, if mother wants to return 'home' after these incidents and she and sister are co-habiting and mother WANTS that, not much will happen.

Sadly, you learned the hard way (as so many of us do) that hoarders almost always LIKE their living situations and don't appreciate people, ESP family, cleaning for them.

As my mother stated last month: "My 'junk' is what keeps me going. I feel like I am surrounded by my loving things". Basically, she told me to never clean or dust for her ever again as her place 'doesn't get dirty'.

I stepped away and won't even water a plant for her.
Helpful Answer (8)
Reply to Midkid58
Report
Jazzy1349 Nov 30, 2020
GOOD FOR YOU.!!!
(1)
Report
You could call Office of Aging or Adult protection services and ask for an evaluation. Maybecan outsider can get thru to Mom that her home is unsafe. Hoarding is a mental disorder. Maybe they can suggest a therapist for sister to figure out why she hoards.
Helpful Answer (2)
Reply to JoAnn29
Report

Ask a Question
Subscribe to
Our Newsletter