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To worry about the state of my parent's house

(15 Posts)
sallycinnamum Wed 27-Mar-13 11:29:20

Bit of background, my DM had a serious illness a few years ago, which she has recovered from but she had to retire early and it has left her with mobility issues.

She absolutely loved her job and was very high up in the organisation so when she fell ill, it was devastating for her. She can't drive either so relies on my DF to ferry her about.

My parents live in a lovely 4 bed house but my DM has always been a bit of a hoarder. When my brother and I lived there she couldn't use our rooms but now we have our own houses it has got totally out of hand.

She can't go out to the shops without buying clothes. Half of them she doesn't even wear and still have the tags on. The only usable bedroom is my parents room - the other three are full to the brim with stuff.

It has got so bad, all three rooms are now full and the stuff has now moved onto the landing. My DF has tried to talk to her about it but she gets all defensive and gives him the silent treatment.

it all came to a bit of a head at the weekend as I wanted to put my DD down for a nap and the cot is now full to the brim with more clothes.

I'm at a loss at what to do. I know I don't live there but it's really upsetting my DF and me because the house is going to rack and ruin. The fact we can't even get into three of the rooms is testament to how out of hand it's got.

What do I do? It's classic displacement activity I know but my DM is a force to be reckoned with and tbh, I'm scared of talking to her about it.

I

Cailinsalach Wed 27-Mar-13 11:37:49

I worked with a bloke whose parents were like this. In the end, when his DF was seriously ill and they called the ambulance, the paramedics told them they had to clear a path through their stuff in order for them to stretcher the poor man out through the door. Apparantly mice had set up home and were subletting to loads of other mice families. When boxes were moved mice shit poured out and scrabbly feet noises echoed throughout the house. Yuk.

I think it is a "condition", an indicator of mental health. Possibly your DM needs to see a health professional.

Have you talked to your DF and siblings? Could you talk to her GP and seek advice?

sallycinnamum Wed 27-Mar-13 11:43:45

Downstairs is fine. In fact you wouldn't know there is a problem until you go upstairs and the house, well the rooms you can get into, are clean.

What I find bizarre, is they're currently having some work done to the house - new windows, new kitchen cabinets etc so it's not like my DM isn't houseproud but there's this elephant in the room that nobody dares talk about.

Everytime I go round there, I'm itching to have a sort through. In fact, I've offered a few times to go through each room with my DM and have a sort out but it just falls on deaf ears.

The back room, which used to be my bedroom needs a new floor so I'm half hoping it gets so bad my parents will have no choice but to empty it.

I've talked endlessly to my DF about it but I think he's given up. There's no way on earth she'll admit there's a problem and that's what I find so hard to get to grips with. How can she not see it?!!

Pandemoniaa Wed 27-Mar-13 11:47:56

I'm sure she can see the problem. But seeing the problem and dealing with it are two very different things. I agree with you that this is a displacement activity and that actually, she is troubled. Unfortunately, even if you were to get into the house and have a sort out, if your dm can't (or won't) get to the root of the issue she'll just buy more stuff to replace what's been disposed of. Assuming that she'll actually let you dispose of anything in the first place, that is.

WhatchaMaCalllit Wed 27-Mar-13 11:48:37

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Compulsive_hoarding

There is an interesting point made at the end of the first piece in the above link. It reads:
"hoarders were significantly less likely to see a problem in a hoarding situation than a friend or a relative might"

If your mum is hoarding then it is very possible that she doesn't see it as such but everyone else around her does.

I have no ideas on what you can do to help (perhaps take a few bits each visit and donate to a local charity shop) but I do wish you the best.

sallycinnamum Wed 27-Mar-13 11:51:29

That is exactly it, even if we get rid of it all, she'll go and buy more and yes, I don't think she sees it as much as a problem as we do.

Thanks for the advice.

pictish Wed 27-Mar-13 11:52:20

My oldest friend is exactly as you describe your mum...the stacks of unworn clothes, the shopping, the hoarding, the defensiveness....
A lot of my friend's place is unusable, it is so crammed with junk. I have tried (at her request) to help her sort things out, but it's not long before she becomes upset and aggressive about clearing her stuff out.

I think it's a very difficult thing to manage, much less cure.

LIZS Wed 27-Mar-13 11:52:48

How often do you visit ? could you set aside some time to see her recent "purchases" and help her return /charity shop the excess.

TheGoatThatGotAway Wed 27-Mar-13 11:53:35

I really feel for people who are affected by this. It seems to be so difficult to address, and so persistent. I read this a while ago and wonder if it might give you some useful background. Hope you find a gentle way to help her sad

sallycinnamum Wed 27-Mar-13 11:56:17

I see them at least once a week and she does get very upset and defensive if I gently suggest we have a clear out.

I think her problems with mobility, which is not going to get any better, have alot to do with it. It's a mammoth task and she can't face it even though I have suggested getting a professional declutterer in (hell will freeze over before that happens).

This is partly why I'm such a neat freak - it's a reaction to the chaos at home.

pictish Wed 27-Mar-13 11:57:14

Oh and her reasons for keeping masses of crap are these...

I'm going to do a car boot sale with that lot.
I'm going to get that fixed.
Someone might want to buy that.
That still works.
I'm going to take most of these back once I've tried them on.
I'm going to give that to xxxx.
I just need to find time to go through that, and see what I want to keep.
That's not staying there it's going to xxxx place.

She has an answer for every pile of crap in the place.

sallycinnamum Wed 27-Mar-13 11:58:35

thegoat, they're even writing books about it!

I did hope that having my two DCs might give her a reason to sort it out so there could be one room for them to use when they stay over but is hasn't made a jot of difference.

sallycinnamum Wed 27-Mar-13 12:01:26

She did go through a phase of selling clothes on ebay but for once item she sold, she'd buy another two. It's hopeless.

My DF did say at the weekend, that it's just got really embarrassing now when they have people over not to mention how much it's costing. She must be rampaging through their retirement fund.

pictish Wed 27-Mar-13 12:05:23

I had to laugh when on one occasion I opened her oven and found it crammed full of old books!

I do feel for her...she obviously has issues, but I'm long past the stage of trying to help her....I just climb over and squeeze through the stuff, and make myself comfortable.

Interestingly mil's dh is also a hoarder...they live just round the corner from us. Poor mil...her dh is just lovely, but she's got way more patience than me.

pictish Wed 27-Mar-13 12:17:01

That's like my friend - she has twice managed to do the much fabled car boot sale, but she came back with most of her stuff unsold, and a whole heap of new shit as well.

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