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anyone else got a hoarder for a parent!!! Dont think I can cope with this again!

(35 Posts)
rolereversal Wed 03-Sep-08 19:57:02

My mum has mice, again!! Had mice in her kitchen approx 6 months ago, and an infestation of fleas about 10 months ago. Her house is impossible to clean properly due to the huge amounts of shit stuff she has. She just never throws anything out!angry

She is in her late 70s now and bloody impossible to help because she becomes so nasty and defensive when you try and get rid of anything.

She is going away on holiday next week with my brother and cos the mice appeared again I said that while she is away I am going to sort out the kitchen, get rid of some stuff and give it a good clean up. Funnily enough she wasnt in the least bit grateful!! She said I had no right to suggest that her house was unclean (it is!) and I should think about cleaning up my own house before I start on her!

I pointed out that there are 5 people living in my house, and we still have access to all our bedrooms, unlike my mum who is one potty old lady on her own who can only use one of the bedrooms in her four bed house cos the others are crammed full of useless bloody crap angry angry angry

She has just rung me to say she has tripped the mousetrap I set by accident because she forgot it was there, will have to go up and reset it. Is there anyone out there going through anything similar, please!!!!!!!!!!

TheArmadillo Wed 03-Sep-08 20:00:52

I have family members who have been like this (dead not recovered).

When it gets to the point that the house is becoming uninhabitable and/or a health hazard I think you need to try and get advice from social services.

If it isn't that bad I think there is little you can do. Unless they admit to having a problem, you can't touch their stuff.

Could you try having a word with her doctor and raising your concerns with them about her behaviour?

It is incrediably frustrating and worrying.

WilfSell Wed 03-Sep-08 20:01:51

Have you, or has she spoken to a mental health or medical person about it? Hoarding can be a real psych condition that can often only get worse in older people.

Does she collect things like paper, string or rubbish, or things that might be useful for some but aren't clearly - like buttons or elastic bands?

You might want to get some advice/support from a medic, social worker or community mental health team if you really want to help...?

WilfSell Wed 03-Sep-08 20:02:16

x posts armadillo

expatinscotland Wed 03-Sep-08 20:03:19

DHs parents are hoarders.

northernrefugee39 Wed 03-Sep-08 20:09:51

My Mum is exacly like this! LOL elastic bands, buttons, jam jars, newspapers !.....I intermittently do a blitz, in kitchen particularly- out of date stuff and half a lemon on a saucer...can't change her.
What would social services do?
What kind of mental health problem does it indicate do you think?
I always imagined it was a sort of exaggerated post war thrift thing.

(BTW- the reaction provoked in our family is that two of us chuck olut ALOT- brother is totally minimal- so has some good results at least...wink)

rolereversal Wed 03-Sep-08 20:16:32

Am back from setting mousetrap but going to put boys to bed in a min.

I havnt spoken to mental health professional about it but I know it is real mental health issue. TBH she would never forgive me if she knew I had ever told anyone else about it!! She has always been a bit this way, even when I was little, but now she lives on her own (my dad moved out partly because of this kind of thing) and is getting quite elderly it is becoming a real health and safety issue.

Her eyesight is not good and I am frightened she will give herself food poisoning or set the house on fire, cos there is just so much stuff in that kitchen!

I did come to the conclusion after several cleaning up episodes (the flea situation was horrendous!!) that I should just leave her to live like that if she is happy. It causes her so much stress when we clean anything out that it doesnt seem worth it. But I just need to clean the kitchen and make it safer. Apart from anything else what would people think of her family if they thought we had left her in a situation like that?!!

TheArmadillo Wed 03-Sep-08 20:20:44

There is a difference between having a load of stuff and liking to keep things (probably means you are slightly obsessive or have issues but nothing major) and having so much that it affects your health, the safety of your surroundings and your entire life. It's then it becomes a real problem and a serious mental health issue.

A relative of mine was really bad had a house full. There was a narrow path from the front door to a chair in one room. The bathroom was unusable as it was full of stuff (the water had drained out of the toilet as was unused for so long), bedrooms stacked floor to ceiling (mostly newspapers/books and that kinda thing = fire hazard and the risk of it falling on you), upstairs landing and stairs full of items so eventually you could not get upstairs. Downstairs hallway full (could not open the front door). Of 3 downstairs rooms (one being kitchen) one was full of food (from front to back piled floor to ceiling - the stuff at the front was rotted and that was the most recent). Kitchen had several fridges as when got full they acquired another. Roof spaces (parts of ceiling taken out) full of newspapers. Other room had a path to a chair and the rest filled with furniture and odds and ends piled up.

House was actually uninhabitable by the end and took months of clearing (most of which involved skip).

That was the worst of all my relatives, but others were nearly as bad though still had access to toilet/bathroom, somewhere to eat adn somewhere to prepare food.

Unfortunately if they refuse help adn are judged to be mentally competant there is little you can do. You can get them assessed by social services but again if they completely refuse all help there is little they can do if they are judged to be competant.

It is a real problem.

TheArmadillo Wed 03-Sep-08 20:22:07

sorry should have been narrow path from back door.

rolereversal Wed 03-Sep-08 20:23:09

northernrefugee you understand!!!!! Half a lemon on a saucer, thats exactly it!!! I blame the war too, its all that make do and mend stuff, she just cant bare to waste anything now. She had half a cup of cooked carrots in there today, that had gone sour and got flies in them yuk.

I am not minimalist but I do throw things away, and get a lot of pleasure from it too grin. One of my brothers is very very tidy, cant walk on his white carpets tidy, but the other one I am afraid has inherited the hoarding gene. Luckily he married a woman who wont have it in the house, so he has 2 lock up garages crammed with crap he has rescued from skipsblush

CuppaTeaJanice Wed 03-Sep-08 20:41:03

Mum & Dad have a ridiculous amount of stuff hoarded in their house - they have a double garage stuffed full of shit potentially useful stuff, and had their flat roof converted to pitched to give them attic space for more!!

The only time I can think it's been useful is when all my baby stuff got dragged out recently for ds (loads of retro toys to play with).

The worst bit is they always try and offload some of it onto me every time I go and see them (I've got enough of my own crap - must be a genetic thing!!). And they always tell me with glee that I'll have to clear it all out someday (I'm an only child).

Could you get Kim and Aggie in?!!!

phdlife Wed 03-Sep-08 20:49:59

my mum is like this - nowhere near as bad as Armadillo's rels but on her way - it is because she had such a fucked-up childhood and never recovered from having her home taken away from her at a very young age. I think she needs stuff around her to feel secure. It drives my sister barking but I just feel desperately sorry for this 72-year-old woman still trying to soothe the 7-year-old within.

CoolYourJets Wed 03-Sep-08 21:04:32

My mum too. 4 bed, two reception rooms, attic, garage, sheds,

It is a nightmare. If they won't seek help there is nothing you can do. It is a kind of OCD.

<black humour> My mum has hording OCD and my MIL the opposite. Can make for some interesting conversations. hmm

CoolYourJets Wed 03-Sep-08 21:05:25

hoarding obv.

ipodtherforipoor Wed 03-Sep-08 21:16:15

It can get really bad i see some people like your relatives in my job and the only thing we can do if they have capacity is let them get on with it. Which when it is your relative is easier said than done!

rolereversal Wed 03-Sep-08 21:42:59

my mum not as bad as armadillos relis but its still driving me mad. My mum is soooooo nice to everyone, people think she is the perfect mum, but she has an alter ego, a right nasty bugger that gets really agressive when you suggest anything which might mean she has to do something about this. there is a woman on kim and aggie now, and her house is awful, much worse than my mums, thank god, but at least she realises she has a problem an is willing to do something about it. my mum thinks its the rest of us that has the problem and she is the one that has it right hmm

by the way her hoarding extends to the garden, she hasnt cut a tree back or pruned anything in about 20 years, so where there was once a lawn and shrubs in the boarders, now there is a small coppice, the neighbours are not pleased!! and she thinks its lovely!!

Also she hasnt cut her hair since I was about 6, I think this is the same thing, she cant bare to be parted from anything!!!!!!!! ahrrrrrrgh!!!!!!!!

expatinscotland Wed 03-Sep-08 21:52:29

My ILs used to bring bags of stuff over for DH.

Until one time they did and I thanked them and trotted out to the car with the bags and put them in the boot.

They said, 'Why are you doing that?'

DH said, 'Oh, because they're going to textile recycling after you leave. If I haven't needed it in this long there's no point in keeping it.'

BreeVanderCampLGJ Wed 03-Sep-08 21:58:33

<<snort>> at EPIS

Thats my girl.grin

expatinscotland Wed 03-Sep-08 22:12:18

I knew I had him trained then!

I mean, why keep stuff like that?

I had tried, gently, to remind them that we do not own a home. We rent, and that means moving often enough. Also, excepting this place, we've lived in fairy cramped quarters.

There is NO room for junk!

They stopped bringing over stuff they found from heaven knows where that was DH's about 10 years ago.

And now they're finally laying off bringing the girls loads of 'stuff'.

I think once they realised we really weren't talking bollocks about housing situations (after DH's sister went through it) they've hopefully finally gotten the picture that not everyone has a house to fill with junk.

And even if by the grace of God one actually came our way, I wouldn't treat it like a shit tip.

Theirs is seriously Kim and Aggie proportions.

Hadassah Wed 03-Sep-08 22:22:10

In my experience you can either do the change yourself and take the resulting hysterics, bad feeling, potentially long-term conflict etc. or you can take a "her house - her mess" approach. Trying to get another person to come round to your point of view and act differently is stressful and wearing and there is a high chance it won't work

northernrefugee39 Thu 04-Sep-08 14:20:33

rolerev your Mum sounds a bit like mine.
It's certainly a block somewhere with their idea of "useful".
She doesn't understand that there is a limit to how many jam jars one person needs to carry on jam making, particularly when she still buys like mad.
Our kitchen was always fairly chaotic when we were kids ( but she always had a reputation as a brilliant cook and entertainer- creative etc), so I spent much of my young childhood clearing up before my friends who lived in lovely clean perfect suburban houses came round....
Oh God- it all comes back to me!
When my dad says he has had a stomach upset, i think... hmm, it's a miricacle they're still going considering the out of date food or the "stock" boiling on the stove for... how long?
ARGHH!
Yes- I understand!

notcitrus Fri 05-Sep-08 17:25:34

My in-laws have a dose of this, as did my grandparents (my parents, amazingly, really did spend their year after retirement getting rid of junk!)

Luckily my in-laws have some sense of humour about it, so when I and their offspring visit, there's a lot of 'what sort of children would we be, leaving you to clean the back of your fridge? You just make us all some more tea, Mum!', and laughing at some of the really bizarre items we find - MIL loves charity shops and acquiring bargains - except eg if something is BOGOF, she has to have 10 of them...

The best way to get junk out of the house is to convince them that we/our friend will find the stuff a lot more useful and they'd be doing us a favour to give it to us. And then we drop it off at another charity shop or recycling centre. My dad gave lots of metal items from my granny to his friend George. George worked at the tip. grin

We do a big clean-up of the ILs' house when they go away - but make sure we don't mention it, as they'd only worry. They're happy and don't see the problem of pre-2000 items in the fridge, so we don't expect them to be grateful. But luckily, despite their eccentricities, they are lovely people, which makes it so much easier.

northernrefugee39 Fri 05-Sep-08 18:57:28

When I do a big clear out, the ironical thing is they barely notice.
Althoiugh on one occasion my mum went on and on about a washing up brush which looked like a science experiment so covered in glurg. I bought her a new one , but it was that one she wanted.
It is an ocd disorder I'm sure.
But lie notcitrus, as long as they're happy or believe the stuff has found a useful home, I don't see much point in trying to change them.

northernrefugee39 Fri 05-Sep-08 18:58:24

like notcitrus, not lie , obviously blush

rolereversal Fri 05-Sep-08 19:06:16

Am back from working now, and setting mousetraps!!

Our house was always chaotic when I was a kid, it got worse when we moved to a pub when I was 8, my parents were so busy working that stuff never got unpacked and the same boxes that had come with us to the pub, left with us to go to the new house 5 years later!

I dont think she ever got back into a normal life after that, but the thing is she is still a mad shopper, we have had so many rows in bloody charity shops cos I have refused to take her home if she buys any more crappy videos or jigsaws with pieces missing hmm

Talking about jam NR69 I have just looked in her fridge and there is a large container of blueberries, that she picked off the bushes in her wilderness garden ages ago. They are all mouldy and need to be chucked, so I said I'd do it while shes on holiday. She told me to leave them alone as they were perfectly all right and she would wash them and make jam with them when she got back shock she is away for 10 days shock

She must have the constitution of an ox to have survived to 77, or maybe mouldy fruit is really the elixier of life and only my mum knows smile

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