To ask for advice re: someone you know and care for living in squalor and filth? (Long)

(24 Posts)
TerribleMother Wed 19-Feb-14 21:06:53

Am going to make details as vague as I can to avoid outing myself or family. Close family relative's spouse died couple of years ago. House was pretty filthy, and two other close relatives cleared, emptied and cleaned it (although couldn't do anything about threadbare carpets etc), and made it liveable. I live overseas with no option of returning due to finances, logistics etc. although am regularly in contact via social networking, phone, text etc with widowed relative. Would seem that other than slightly stagnant job hunt, no other major obvious issues.

Found out from same relative who cleaned house that it has gone back to the way it was before, only 1000X worse. Think 'how clean is your house?' plus 'hoarders'! It is disgusting. Family member sent photos and they made me cry. There are animals in the property too and apparently the smell is overwhelming (not sure if it can be smelt outside house) hmm.

What the hell can I do??? Relatives who helped first time are unwilling to help, saying that the person is just lazy. Won't listen to me when I suggested possible depression/grief being the reason. This is breaking my heart. I want to get on a plane and go fix it but I absolutely can't. hmm Please don't call me selfish, it would cost me the equivalent of £6k which I don't have to get me and my children there, would have nowhere to stay etc. If I could, I would.

It is a LA house. Would env health or the LA do anything? SS? I'm at my wits end. In my professional life I've seen some disgusting houses, but this stretches the limits.

Any advice much appreciated.

UnexpectedItemInShaggingArea Wed 19-Feb-14 21:11:14

No judging here. Social Services could help. sad

TerribleMother Wed 19-Feb-14 21:14:19

Thank you. The thing is this person outwardly appears totally normal and functioning. Socialises, does charity work (loads of it), works pt as a cleaner! I just don't understand how it can have got this bad. hmm

MorrisZapp Wed 19-Feb-14 21:29:00

That sounds awful. Could you ring a neighbour? It's in their interests to tackle this. I'd hate to live next to that, for selfish reasons I'm afraid. So sorry for your relative too.

HotBurrito1 Wed 19-Feb-14 21:30:35

Yy to Environmental health, or the housing office. All the best.

TerribleMother Wed 19-Feb-14 21:32:43

The neighbours are drug dealers. Two of them anyway. Used to be one or two I could poss have contacted but they've gone. Could I make some sort of report anon? Only thing is, relative who told me will know it was me. I suppose I'd need to shoulder that but I don't want anyone to hate me. hmm

TerribleMother Wed 19-Feb-14 21:33:47

Would they (the person living there) get in trouble?

ivykaty44 Wed 19-Feb-14 21:34:35

Can you pay someone to go in and clean up? I agree depression or similar seems to be a problem.

If animals are present call RSPCA to make sure they are cared for

falulahthecat Wed 19-Feb-14 21:35:43

Grief is a common trigger of hoarding, I would perhaps try again with closer relatives, not that they do it, but that perhaps the get help for her.
caught a bit of 'This Morning' the other day which had an elderly man on who kept his garden immaculate to stop the neighbours suspecting but kept every scrap of paper that came in the house.

The animals add problems, 'cat scratch disease' etc.

Sounds awful but perhaps a call, or threatening to call, the RSPCA would help her realise it's gotten out of control?

LondonForTheWeekend Wed 19-Feb-14 21:36:17

People at some level choose to live in squalor. Hoarders certainly are very recalcitrant/untreatable. You can't fix this. Only they can, and you and your relatives have to stand aside until they want things to be different.

falulahthecat Wed 19-Feb-14 21:36:43

I don't want anyone to hate me
When she gets the help she needs and stops living in filth, they, and she, will thank you, not hate you.

mummyto2boysandagirl3 Wed 19-Feb-14 21:37:40

Is it possible that the person is suffering from ocd? Brought on by the grief? I'm not saying it's def that but it's not unheard of for ppl with ocd to not clean/move something bcos they think if they do something bad will happen it can also manifest as hoarding. Is there someone local that could talk to ur relative and maybe take them to the gp if appropriate for some help?

Bless u must b so hard being so far away

serenshiningstar Wed 19-Feb-14 21:37:45

Well this is difficult.

But are they happy? Normal and functioning?

Please contact your local council Environmental Heath department. Environmental Health Officers are trained, qualified and usually very experienced at dealing with hoarders, and will usually be very patient and empathetic in trying to assist.

Tulip26 Wed 19-Feb-14 21:41:01

Call social services. I have been in this situation with a family member myself. You are doing them no favours by leaving them in this filth. They will get sick from living like this with animals and then social services will have to get involved.

serenshiningstar Wed 19-Feb-14 21:43:15

I lived in filth for years. Not even sure why, only that I didn't see my home as a comforting sort of place, it was somewhere I didn't want to be.

I worked full time and was fine outwardly, it was just my home that was dysfunctional.

I was perfectly healthy and can't imagine ss being interested.

The fact the individual has gone back to how they were speaks volumes IMO. They don't want to change.

Finola1step Wed 19-Feb-14 21:49:26

The best thing you could do is speak to the local Social Services vulnerable adults team. If your relative is retired, Age Concern might also be able to advise.

I really do sympathise. We have had similar with my sister. I have had to simply accept that she doesn't see the dirt and mess. It just doesn't mean anything to her. But she doesn't have animals and she does have a support worker. She is also quite healthy. thanks

BettyBotter Wed 19-Feb-14 21:50:37

We had exactly this problem in my family with a relative also in a different country. The family living closer by completely cleared the house and multiple feral animals twice with the situation immediately returning to an worse state within months. The extent was so extreme that I have never been able to admit some of it even anonymously. So I do understand.

But my answer is I don't think you can actually do anything unless the person asks for help. This person has chosen to live like this and forcing any change through authorities wont work long term.

At the moment what harm is actually being done? Is the situation making him/her ill? Are the animals suffering? Only if that's the case would I talk to them, offer help via authorities or family and explain that you will take action if harm is happening. Otherwise I'd take your family's word that nothing can be done.

TerribleMother Thu 20-Feb-14 07:53:11

Thank you all for taking the time to reply to me. I've read each message. I'm now torn though between reporting to ss, la, ev etc., and leaving them to it, as people have said noticing I can do will change the situation as they obviously want to live that way. It would be a lot easier if I could confront them (gently) face to face with the issue rather than make them feel as though someone had been dobbing on them. hmm

TerribleMother Thu 20-Feb-14 07:53:47

*nothing I can do

That's always the best way. They won't 'get into trouble' with
Environmental health though. And they won't tell them who 'reported' them. Unless they are causing a problem (ie odour) to their neighbours, EH wont do anything but talk to them and try and convince them there is a better way. They cannot intervene (human rights) unless they have agreement or it affects someone else.
The reason I say they are trained, qualified, experienced, is because they are used to talking to hoarders, and know what to say to build a relationship with them and try and convince them to let them help. They won't go in shouting the odds. They are there to protect the vulnerable- although local authorities vary in efficiency of service of course.

serenshiningstar Thu 20-Feb-14 08:54:34

Confronting them yourself won't work. EH may assist but on the other hand they may not and to be honest with the proviso that it doesn't harm others I don't understand why people do walk around placing their own standards on others.

TerribleMother Thu 20-Feb-14 09:21:52

I'm not placing my standards on anyone, but it's difficult to see someone you love living in an unhygienic hovel. Surely it can't be good for their health or for that matter the animals'. I'm worried that it's caused by mh issues as well, which can't be ignored.

serenshiningstar Thu 20-Feb-14 09:34:36

Well yeah, TM, I know what you're saying there, but its unlikely it'll impact on their health really: I am very healthy and lived in filth for years. Not that I'm recommending it, you understand grin Insofar as the animals are concerned, if they are fed and warm and dry they will probably be fine. Terrible smells and dirt don't matter to animals.

If children were there or if someone else was forced to live in the property I would absolutely agree that something had to be done but as it is, that isn't the case.

I'm not saying you have to like it, or visit them, or stay there, but the fact is that it is their home and their life and they are free to live it in a way they choose and since you've said it was like this before the spouse died it sounds as if its just "them." There aren't any pills you can take for being a dirty git!

It's just how some people are and it's one of the few ways people see fit to throw their weight about with - 'Oh it is not healthy!' - despite no evidence of the person being unwell. Plenty of people live a life that I don't understand but doesn't impact on me so they are free to carry on doing it. This is no different really.

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