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Any advice for dealing with a hoarder?

16 replies

Boobookitty5 · 26/09/2020 16:31

Hello! My brothers first baby is on the way and so my mum has self isolated and gone to stay with them while the baby comes. Although we knew my sister in law is a bit of a hoarder, we didn’t realise how bad it’s gotten over lockdown. The house is piled up and so after talking to her about it, my mum cleared the kitchen and living room and she got really upset about it. They normally have a close relationship as her mum isn’t around and wanted my mum there whilst she has the baby. Mum really wants to make a start on the nursery and bedroom but she’s scared of upsetting them but feels it’s unsafe to bring a baby into the chaos. It’s not baby stuff, it’s all old clothes and books. She’s tempted to get skip whilst they’re at the hospital but knows that will upset everyone! Any advice for how to gently deal with a hoarder? Thanks so much.

OP posts:
Coldhandscoldheart · 26/09/2020 16:47

I don’t think you can tbh. When you say she cleared - do you mean threw away? that will probably cause serious trust issues. Like, never see the baby again kind of issues.
I believe It’s a form of OCD. She might be allowed to tidy up, but even that might be too much.

nosswith · 26/09/2020 16:54

You have to treat it almost as if it is a form of mental illness, and tread carefully.

GunsAndShips · 26/09/2020 16:56

It needs support and treatment. We have a local strategy with a professional referral process for mental health support.

It's not a gentle conversation and a tidy up.

MJMG2015 · 26/09/2020 16:58

Your Mum needs to be VERY careful, she could tip your SIL over the edge & that's without baby hormones. They need professional help, not MIL wading in throwing things away.


Justnormajean · 26/09/2020 17:01

Please have a look at this website for an insight into what might be behind this. As pp said it is now regarded as a form of OCD and in some areas some mental health services will offer support

Boobookitty5 · 26/09/2020 17:02

Thank you. Yes we were thinking about suggesting some counselling or CBT down the line but just want to make everything safe for now. Nothings been thrown away, just tidied up and cleaned. She’s a lovely girl and we just want to help her get everything ready for when the baby comes home.

OP posts:
MitziK · 26/09/2020 18:49

Step away and notify Social Services.

winewolfhowls · 26/09/2020 19:07

If my mil came around and moved my stuff I would be livid. You don't interfere with someone else's house unless they ask you to.
More so when it's hoarding and a mental health issue, a tidy up isn't going to stop more hoarding in future is it.
Thirdly, when a baby is due and your dil may be tired and fed up, meddling is not recommended if you want to be on good terms going forward and having a close relationship with your grandchild.

Sounds like you're all interfering to be honest, and I'm sure you are coming from a good place and trying to help but Jesus Christ no.

Boobookitty5 · 26/09/2020 19:11

Tbh the midwife seemed to think everything was fine when she visited the other day. You’re right, probably a bit of space is needed their end. They have had the mother there for nearly two weeks and I’m just getting it from her without seeing for myself.

OP posts:
Emeeno1 · 26/09/2020 19:18

Mental illness ( such as compulsive hoarding) is really hard for families. It is common for a relatives desire to help to be misunderstood so you should not feel bad about this.

Reading and researching (even watching the Hoarders or Only Human series on Youtube) will give you some insight into your sister- in- laws condition and how best you can support her.

She already has an advantage in that you all love and care for her. Be proud of that and move forward with caution.

winewolfhowls · 26/09/2020 19:36

If my post seemed a bit harsh, I will say that it's also lovely that your family are looking after each other, just tread gently.

Boobookitty5 · 26/09/2020 19:38

Big thanks everyone, especially Emeeno1 for your nice words I’m sure everything will be ok, just got a bit worried earlier. It’s not the time for helping her address hoarding issues so we’ll just be there for them both as much as we can now without getting in the way. I know what an intense time it is first time round!

OP posts:
Coldhandscoldheart · 27/09/2020 07:26

When I said threw away, I include in that things that appear to be rubbish - empty water bottles, till receipts etc.
There can be some very strange (to others) belief systems around the items, so even if it’s that sort of thing, if mother is tidying, she should collect & bag like with like & only with permission.
There might later be an opportunity to say ‘there’s this bag of empty cans, can I put them in the recycling?’ But if the answer is no, you have to just leave it.

Bluesheep8 · 27/09/2020 07:32

Contact your local council. They should have specialist team who offer help and support.

Pickypolly · 27/09/2020 07:42

There is nothing you or anyone can do. This needs professional help for your sil. Even then there are no guarantees that anything will change.

Social services may intervene if midwives refer. By intervene I mean refer other agencies to offer support. These may be voluntary services.
So in other words, it’s very very difficult and the situation could be absolutely dire, but they won’t do anything harshly.

Now then, send in the RSPCA when there are animals living in the filth and the animals will be removed. Kids, no, it’s ok apparently for kids to live in it, animals no.

I have bitter experience of this with a relative.
I can’t tell you how frustrating it is.

Prepare to be frustrated and perpetually frantic and worried about the child and future children.

Porridgeoat · 27/09/2020 07:53

Have you been to their house? What level of hoarding are we talking about? Rats, not being able to access exits, nothing thrown away? Different people have different ideas of what hoarding is. Is your mum particularly obsessively tidy? Does she ha e zero less at home?

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