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I don't know what to do about my parents

(13 Posts)
Tricycletops Tue 30-Oct-12 14:36:10

This is long, sorry.

Some background: I am an only child and my parents live in another country. DH and I have been to see them for long weekends about 7-8 times in the last three years; generally they come to us for a a week to ten days every six months instead as they're retired. DH and I have recently moved and now feel that we're settled in one place. His sister lives near our new home (his brother has emigrated) and as a result of us moving and DSIL announcing she's pregnant his parents are intending to move here; they've put their house on the market.

As a result of this my parents are now talking about moving too, which would be great from our perspective as they'd be able to see their (as yet unconceived) grandchildren and caring for them as they get older would be easier. But there is a problem. Their house.

I went to visit this weekend as my dad has been in hospital and I feel rather as though a light's been switched on in my brain. My parents have always been 'untidy' but at some point in the last ten years they've crossed the line into full-blown hoarding. They live in a large (4-bed) house of which maybe three rooms are useable. The rest are filled with... stuff. All sorts of stuff. Their animals can get into the rooms which they can't, with predictable and squalid results.

I don't know how they think they are going to sell it (and there is no way they can move without doing so), but have a horrible suspicion that their plan involves me, my time and my money. I have tried again and again over the years to help them clear up (I realise now from reading about hoarding that this was always futile) and mentally I am done – I can't contemplate helping them with it any more. But there is nobody else. Meanwhile my mum is merrily prattling about how they'll need a 3-bed house when they move, not realising that with the difference in markets and the extent to which they've devalued their current home she'll be lucky to afford anything.

I feel like I need to say something. Apart from the house sale issue, if they don't move or the new house ends up exactly the same there is no way those hypothetical grandchildren will be visiting them. But I don't know how to broach the subject or what to offer to do. And I suppose there is a big part of me that worries that it's just me being intolerant, even though I know that at a rational level living in a house that's 70% inaccessible and stinks of shit isn't really a valid lifestyle choice.

LaCiccolina Tue 30-Oct-12 14:47:41

I really feel for u. Sounds awful. I think u buy them gift of a professional declutterer. There are firms that work with the hoarder to empty the house.

Some hard truths will have to be said and a dispassionate third party might b useful...?

NotQuintAtAllOhNo Tue 30-Oct-12 14:51:24

Maybe an estate agent will give them a few pointers?

Just make it clear that you would like them living nearby, but you dont have the time and the money to help them. They need to do this themselves.
Try tell them two bedrooms should suffice?

Didn't want to ignore your post, but I have no experience with hoarding. That said, I can tell you that your instincts are absolutely right and you are in no way being intolerant. As you say, 70% of the house being unusable and with shit of some kind being left to fester in those rooms is not a valid lifestyle choice. It is abnormal behaviour. Don't doubt yourself!

If you were to tell them exactly what you think about their house, including the bit about the future grandchildren, how do you think they would react?

HotDAMNlifeisgood Tue 30-Oct-12 15:14:19

You don't need to do anything at all about your parents: the move is still just a glint in their eye. Their DC are as yet unconceived.

And if/when the day comes when they do put their house on the market, you do not need to do anything at all then either: their house, their business. If they only find out the hard way that they can't sell a house filled with crap, then they find out the hard way that they can't sell a house filled with crap.

Your parents are adults in their own right, and are not your responsibility.
You do not need to save them.
You do not need to jump in before they even request help.
You can even say "no" to any direct requests for help that they do formulate.
And when the day comes, you can definitely say "No" to any visits by your DC in a house that is covered in crap.

HotDAMNlifeisgood Tue 30-Oct-12 15:14:45

*GC, not DC

oscarwilde Tue 30-Oct-12 16:13:02

If you want to be practical and encourage them, then suggest that they get some estate agents around for a valuation. You can gently suggest that they may need to do some clearing and cleaning before they do this in order to get the best valuation they can. Find a few local companies on line and send their details.
You can then take the valuation and canvas some local estate agents to you to see what is within their budget locally. [I'm assuming they are of a generation that doesn't surf Rightmove as a hobby]. A dose of reality usually either parks the "we'll move to you" conversation or gets things moving in a more realistic manner.
After that Hotdamn says it like it is and as you say, you have tried to help often enough. Unfortunately, at some point you will have to deal with it as they become decrepit but by then, they will be living on the ground floor and too old to know that you have cleared out the top floor of their house while they were in hospital recuperating from a broken hip. sad

deste Tue 30-Oct-12 16:24:05

Trycletops what area are you in. My friend and I have started up a decluttering business and they are all over the place. They are there to declutter houses for different reasons but also so that houses will be easier to sell. It could cost a few hundred pounds but at the end of the day the difference in what they would sell for would more than make it worthwhile. Look up APDO and you will be able to see if there is anyone near them. Tell them to get the estate agent in and I'm sure they will tell them that they have to declutter, being told by someone else can be a good thing, it will take the pressure off you.

HansieMom Tue 30-Oct-12 22:22:55

From what I have seen on the hoarding shows, the children cannot do a thing. Hoarders usually only are ready to change when their house is about to be condemned and even then they are out there going through the crap in the dumpster with the intention of bringing it back it back in.

theoriginalandbestrookie Tue 30-Oct-12 22:30:04

Agree with hotdamn - you don't need to do anything.

Anyway as soon as the estate agents come round to view their property they will get the message loud and clear around decluttering. If they then choose to do what is needed to sell the property well and good, if not then problem averted.
I would imagine that even if they move into a new property soon it will be in the same state. You will just have to insist that if and when their grandchildren arrive they will have to come to your house.

ClareMarriott Wed 31-Oct-12 21:27:29

Tricycletops. It is YOUR parents you are asking advices for here is'nt it and they live abroad ? Please do contact APDO-uk who are the professional body set up for declutterers but make sure they realize that you are seeking help for your parents who live abroad

marshmallowpies Wed 31-Oct-12 21:39:42

Having recently sold a house and gone through the endless rounds of cleaning, putting out flowers, etc, it shocked me to start viewing houses and seeing what state of squalor some of them are presented in - estate agents will still market them, they are just very picky about which photos they choose to put online.

Of course, that doesn't mean the houses presented in that state will sell or reach anything like the price they could achieve. At the very least I'd be hinting that people generally don't like the smell of dogshit...

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