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What do you do when Parents can no longer take care of themselves?

ZoelZoel Registered User regular
edited July 2009 in Help / Advice Forum
My mother is in her early sixties and is otherwise of able mind and body, but to put it simply, she really sucks at keeping herself and her living arrangement in good working order, such that I'm mostly amazed she survives. She's gainfully employed (although unlikely to be able to retire, ever), but the regular chores of daily life are almost too much for her. This isn't the result of any actual medical problem (except perhaps psychiatric) but she just can't make herself do the basic things that you need to survive, like cleaning her house, fixing her broken air conditioning in the Georgia heat, or getting her car fixed so she can go to the store at reasonable hours.


For reference this is a picture of her dining room: (Spoilered for H-scroll DESTRUCTION)
Spoiler:

Here's the dining room from the living room:
Spoiler:

Every room in the house (as well as the driveway) is basically like this, but you get the idea.

So tell me H/A, as my mother ages is there anything I can do to end her hoarding ways and get her to take care of herself? Should I do anything?

Zoel on

Posts

  • VisionOfClarityVisionOfClarity Registered User regular
    edited July 2009
    There are ways but they typically involve having the person declared incompetent in some way. Is she otherwise normal aside from the hoarding? Does she hoard animals? What is the sanitation level of the house overall? These are things to take into consideration before doing anything.

  • NotYouNotYou Registered User regular
    edited July 2009
    I don't think you have to do anything certainly, and whether you should is highly debatable and probably depends on what type of person your mom is.

    The only really delicate way I can think to approach this is to give her a birthday/christmas present of you helping her clean/fix her house.

  • ZoelZoel Registered User regular
    edited July 2009
    There are ways but they typically involve having the person declared incompetent in some way. Is she otherwise normal aside from the hoarding? Does she hoard animals? What is the sanitation level of the house overall? These are things to take into consideration before doing anything.

    No, she does not hoard animals. Other than the hoarding, she is mostly normal, although she did want to name me Stargazer, but that's weird, not incompetent. She has problems getting stuff done like going to the doctor when she needs to or getting her air conditioning repaired, and can't mow her lawn. Generally speaking she is completely inactive on something if she does not absolutely have to do it.

    The sanitation level of the house is "wow there is a lot of stuff here." But it isn't unsanitary per se. There doesn't seem to be any pest problem (unless you count spiders in the shed in the backyard) and there is not really any food debris. Concidentally, there isn't any food debris because the kitchen is literally too cluttered to cook anything, so she usually eats pre-made meals or only eats at work.

  • NightDragonNightDragon Registered User regular
    edited July 2009
    Offer to help clean up her house with her? Or offer to clean up for her, or help her out in general? Perhaps offering a helping hand would get her started in the process. I mean, you can help her clean up to the point where the spaces are livable and welcoming...as far as keeping it that way, that would be up to her. I know that once my room is clean, though, I make more of an effort to keep it that way (as opposed to if it's already messy). Cleanliness begets cleanliness?

    Also...is she typically (or was she in the past) a more clean/organized person, in relation to her environment? If she's always been like this, it'd be a very difficult thing to change.

    It could also be a possibility that she's depressed - depressed people tend to care much less (if at all) about the state of their surroundings. Furthermore, depression causes fatigue, so she could also just be too tired to deal with the messes.

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  • ZoelZoel Registered User regular
    edited July 2009
    Offer to help clean up her house with her? Or offer to clean up for her, or help her out in general? Perhaps offering a helping hand would get her started in the process. I mean, you can help her clean up to the point where the spaces are livable and welcoming...as far as keeping it that way, that would be up to her. I know that once my room is clean, though, I make more of an effort to keep it that way (as opposed to if it's already messy). Cleanliness begets cleanliness?

    Well, admittedly I am kind of terrible at cleaning because she raised me. The main problem is that she really does not want to throw most of this stuff away, or even change its organization, and all my attempts to clean things have resulted in her finding something new and exciting to clutter that space with that she somehow acquired. A lot of the stuff is from her father's estate that she just doesn't want to throw away. (He passed in 2001.) Would it help if I said "think hobbits?"
    Also...is she typically (or was she in the past) a more clean/organized person, in relation to her environment? If she's always been like this, it'd be a very difficult thing to change.

    She's always been like this, but not quite to this extent just because she didn't acquire stuff all that fast. Her assertion is that she isn't this way, and I do have very vague childhood memories of living in a mostly clean house. Whenever I bring it up she talks about it like it is something that will eventually take care of itself, and she'll say things like "Oh, I'm just getting moved in." She's lived there for two and a half years now.
    It could also be a possibility that she's depressed - depressed people tend to care much less (if at all) about the state of their surroundings.

    Yeah. She is usually depressed. Basically, everyone else in my family has disowned her for various reasons and she has a lot of problems interacting with other people. I once tried the "Look I'm not coming over until you clean it up." strategy but that didn't work at all and just made her more depressed.

  • Bionic MonkeyBionic Monkey Registered User, ClubPA
    edited July 2009
    From the pictures, and your description, it sounds like your mom might have OCD (obsessive compulsive hoarding in particular) and maybe a touch of agoraphobia. How does she react to the idea of throwing stuff away?

    The best way forward for her might be therapy, and potentially medication.

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  • CorvusCorvus Caw? VancouverRegistered User regular
    edited July 2009
    I feel your pain, hoarding is very hard to deal with.

    This 41ZE7304MJL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA240_SH20_OU01_.jpg might help a little.

    Especially in regards to stuff from passed on relatives, people tend to feel like by throwing out that broken screwdriver of Grandpa Jimmy that they are actually throwing out Grandpa Jimmy.

    Your mom is going to need a lot of support, and probably therapy and help to deal with this stuff. Otherwise, when she passes away, you're going to get stuck dealing with all this crap.

  • dispatch.odispatch.o Registered User regular
    edited July 2009
    From the pictures, and your description, it sounds like your mom might have OCD (obsessive compulsive hoarding in particular) and maybe a touch of agoraphobia. How does she react to the idea of throwing stuff away?

    The best way forward for her might be therapy, and potentially medication.

    This. Very much.

    It's one thing to keep an old comic collection or coins or even Time magazines, especially if you inherit them. But it appears she's simply keeping EVERYTHING.

    It's not possible for the house to be "clean" with that much stuff, the amount of space and raw bedding material for rodents, cockroaches and various beetles is way too high. If you look under the fridge or sink, or behind the stove I would be willing to wager you would find some horrifying things.

    She almost certainly needs therapy, and probably some medication. Collecting and Hording aren't really the same thing.

    edit: My grandmother was like this, and my mom and I essentially told her she can throw almost all the shit away, or move into a home and then we'll throw it all away. It wasn't the best solution, but it worked. We had to use threat of a home just to get her living conditions livable so we could have a therapist from this charity for the elderly come by and not run screaming from the house at the horrors hidden under stacks of clothing that hadn't been touched in 9 years.

  • ZoelZoel Registered User regular
    edited July 2009
    Thanks for all your responses.
    From the pictures, and your description, it sounds like your mom might have OCD (obsessive compulsive hoarding in particular) and maybe a touch of agoraphobia. How does she react to the idea of throwing stuff away?

    With a lot of anger. She mostly seems upset with the idea that someone is telling her what to do, or that she's heard it before, or that I just don't understand how valuable X is.
    The best way forward for her might be therapy, and potentially medication.

    I've gotten close to convincing her of this, but she's really concerned about the cost of therapy. More importantly, she's concerned that if a doctor thinks she has an actual problem, then she might somehow be forced into managed care or having strangers in her house or something.
    Your mom is going to need a lot of support, and probably therapy and help to deal with this stuff. Otherwise, when she passes away, you're going to get stuck dealing with all this crap.

    Yeah very true; I only recently became concerned about it because my grandfather was moved into hospice care. When I visited my mom to tell her what was up with that, I had exactly that epiphany.
    It's one thing to keep an old comic collection or coins or even Time magazines, especially if you inherit them. But it appears she's simply keeping EVERYTHING.

    Basically everything that isn't food debris.
    It's not possible for the house to be "clean" with that much stuff, the amount of space and raw bedding material for rodents, cockroaches and various beetles is way too high. If you look under the fridge or sink, or behind the stove I would be willing to wager you would find some horrifying things.

    Against all odds, I have done exactly this and there's just nothing. I guess that's some small benefit.
    She almost certainly needs therapy, and probably some medication. Collecting and Hording aren't really the same thing.

    Well, the thing is, if I do go the therapy route, how do I get her to accept therapy? Is there a way I can legally force therapy on her?

  • dispatch.odispatch.o Registered User regular
    edited July 2009
    Yes and No.

    Well, you can call Adult Protective Services in your county and they can come out to survey everything, but they mostly deal with neglect. If she is in need of financial assistance to get the treatment required they can help out a good deal with that most of the time.

    No, you can't force her into treatment against her will unless she is a threat to herself or others.

    My mom worked in adult protective services and at the SSI office before that, most of her time was spent going to old folks homes and doing an interview or an inspection to find out just what it is they need. I would contact them and find out what they think you should do.

    They mostly deal with abuse, but can at least point you in the right direction.


    http://css.lacounty.gov/Aps/Aps.html

    Edit: The above is just an example mission statement for the LA county APS office. I'm sure wherever you are has one as well, but it seems right up your alley.

    Edit2: Keep in mind if you go this route your mom may hate you for a while. They often see it as someone trying to take away their freedoms, and it takes time for them to accept maybe they need some help. Just be patient and let her know you're trying to help her, which she wont believe at first.

    Edit3: I am sorry for your situation, I really hope you can get it worked out. It's good news there's no bugs and stuff, but if this continues there will be, at which point she will be taken to a home due to self-neglect.

  • ZoelZoel Registered User regular
    edited July 2009
    alright. I will look into your suggestion and update when whatever happens happens.

  • PracticalProblemSolverPracticalProblemSolver Registered User
    edited July 2009
    Zoel wrote: »
    Thanks for all your responses.
    I've gotten close to convincing her of this, but she's really concerned about the cost of therapy. More importantly, she's concerned that if a doctor thinks she has an actual problem, then she might somehow be forced into managed care or having strangers in her house or something.

    Can you use that as leverage? Like: 'you need to clean up enough of the mess to see the floor or they're gonna send you to a home' kind of a deal? I don't know, these kinds of situations are very tricky and it'd be easy to take that the wrong way.

    I'm very interested in hearing how this turns out and wish you the best of luck Zoel, my parents are super messy(recently got more clean inside the house) and semi-hoarders but they have a farm so most of the junk ends up outside. They're getting older too and I've been thinking about what's going to happen to all the stuff when they move on. For an example of scale they've got two 40' containers, a small shop and a medium sized barn all packed full of junk and countless objects just laying around.

  • SarcastroSarcastro Registered User regular
    edited July 2009
    How is this actually a problem, except for the fact that you don't like it? Doesn't seem to be a health concern, also doesn't seem to be causing any undue stress on her. She seems to like it that way. It's odd, and it seems a sign that she might be slipping a bit, but hell, she probably is slipping a bit, so whatev. Is there some reason other than personal aesthetics making it impossible for you to just y'know, deal?

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  • dispatch.odispatch.o Registered User regular
    edited July 2009
    Sarcastro wrote: »
    How is this actually a problem, except for the fact that you don't like it? Doesn't seem to be a health concern, also doesn't seem to be causing any undue stress on her. She seems to like it that way. It's odd, and it seems a sign that she might be slipping a bit, but hell, she probably is slipping a bit, so whatev. Is there some reason other than personal aesthetics making it impossible for you to just y'know, deal?

    She's not going outside or getting basic repairs done on where she lives. It may also be a mental health concern that's better taken care of now before it worsens.

  • RUNN1NGMANRUNN1NGMAN Registered User regular
    edited July 2009
    My grandmother's house looked a lot like that. It ended up burning down because she left a lit candle in the OVEN (why? who knows). Luckily she wasn't there. But seriously, the hoarding is a huge issue. The fire-fighters basically said that it was impossible for them to get into the house and look for people because of all the crap laying around.

  • KistraKistra Registered User regular
    edited July 2009
    I think there may be two separate issues.

    1) Hoarding. Therapy is likely the best way to deal with it. If she says she hasn't always been that way you might have a tiny bit of leverage? Have you ever simply asked her if she would like to talk to someone?

    2) She isn't doing routine maintenance. How would she respond to a suggestion to move into a retirement community that is a condo? It would still be her own place but she wouldn't have to worry about mowing the lawn or fixing the air conditioner. Also the ones I have seen (the ones my grandparents looked at) had buses that went to the grocery store every hour on the weekend and also made bi weekly trips to the mall. The one my grandparents ended up choosing also had a medical clinic on site (easier for her to get to) and I think they all have activities that would help her meet new people.

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  • EncEnc FloridaRegistered User regular
    edited July 2009
    Ok, it looks like you can knock out both the Depression and Hoarding problem in one go.

    Dedicate one day a (week/every other week/as often as plausible without destroying your life) to helping your mom. Make it a routine and a date!

    Your Mom seems lonely. Go over and help her clan/organize her things. Help her buy shelving and storage containers, or build your own for cheap. But mostly, don't just go over and clean, go over and spend time with her. Make her dinner, or take her out to dinner. Bring some friends with you (if you have considerate friends) and have everyone sit down and talk. Make her look forward to cleaning day.

    Having something, anything, to look forward to is enough to make someone much happier. Your mom sounds like a former Hippy, which tells me that she probably was pretty social before everyone disowned her. She would probably love to tell stories of her past, especially about the times with her deceased husband.

    In short, just spend time with her without qualification or consequence. Help her clean, or just straighten up. Make her feel loved, valuable, and important... because she is, isn't she?

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  • rockmonkeyrockmonkey Registered User regular
    edited July 2009
    Ok so she has a lot of stuff. surely if she kept everything from her father's estate and she still has her stuff, she likely as double of a ton of household items / furniture that is redundant. She won't throw it out because she sees value in it. Have you considered encouraging her into a slightly different direction? She might be emotionally attached to her dad's stuff but if she has that then what does she need her copy for?

    Suggest a yard sale or perhaps her taking up ebay and selling off, "all this wonderful stuff mom, it's got to be worth something, I mean who wouldn't want X? I say keep grandpas armchair and sell yours."

    Don't be negative, go about it in a round about way so you can be positive. Heck if she gets into ebaying her crap she can "aquire" more stuff and sell it too. I know wives that do just that and are able to be stay at home moms because they sell stuff on ebay for extra cash.

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  • CasualCasual worst polygamist Registered User regular
    edited July 2009
    You have 3 options,

    1) Put her in a home.

    Seems a little extreme and you probably wouldn't be able to do it since she's only in her 60's and still of sound mind.

    2) Take her into your home.

    I don't know what your living situation is or if this would be an option but it would be a solution of sorts if you could put up with it.

    3) Move her to a "sheltered community".

    Sort of the halfway house between giving a senior citizen their independence and having them in a home. They still live in their own home but there are nurses and such to keep an eye on them and check on their living conditions.

    For what it's worth I feel your pain, my mum is a hoarder too but not quite as bad. Right now I'm not sure there is a lot you can do, your mum isn't that old so you can't really tell her what to do. I'd just help her out from time to time. See if you can get her air con fixed.

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  • ThundyrkatzThundyrkatz Registered User regular
    edited July 2009
    Hoarding is a real condition, People who hoard aren't just messy, or disorganized. They don't need the house cleaned and everything will be alright. They need help. My mother in law is a hoarder and my wife and her sister repeatedly went over there and cleaned and threw away useless things. It just made their mom angry, and she just accumulated more stuff. Then she lost the house and had to move to a much smaller apartment, and guess what... she filled it with more stuff. That’s just who she is.

    If you want to help, therapy is the best bet. But, your mom has to want to help her self. There is no forcing it, without her cooperation, it will not work.

    I wish you the best, it is not easy.

  • EncEnc FloridaRegistered User regular
    edited July 2009
    Casual wrote: »
    You have 3 options,

    1) Put her in a home.

    2) Take her into your home.

    3) Move her to a "sheltered community".

    I think this might be a bit overboard. She can still work and provide for herself, she's just lonely and messy. Check in on her more often, and when she can't function at all by herself consider these options.

    Especially the third. In my city, there are several awesome communities that are, in essence, old people cities. They operate like giant malls, with apartments communities instead of department stores, barbershops, restaurants, bowling alleys, a mini-hospital, and lots of activities and clubs that they can participate in or not as they choose. Your Mom retains her personal space, but has access to friends, support networks, fun and entertainment, and most importantly medical care. Their prices range widely, but generally are no more expensive than most quality nursing homes and many offer ways for their residents to "work" for pay in the community (running clubs, etc for rent deductions).

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  • CognisseurCognisseur Registered User
    edited July 2009
    Adult protective services?!

    OCD?!

    Put her in a home?!

    Are you sure you guys aren't getting a little carried away? I'm pretty terrified of posting a picture of my room now, lest you think I'm Satan Reincarnated or something like that.

    She's messy, and she hoards to some (not too ridiculous) degree. She has a job. She keeps the place cleanish. How the hell does this warrant such serious discussion as putting her in a home?

    I don't think you can get a cleaning lady or anything because your mom is intentionally keeping the stuff there, even if most of us think it's bad stuff and a bad place for it. You can, as mentioned previously, offer to clean with her, but that's it.

    I really think the title of this thread is misleading. You have a messy mom; that doesn't mean she can't take care of herself.

    -Edit- I second Enc's suggestion about Cleaning Day. Your mom isn't just randomly sick like you might pick up the flu or something. Her environment has led her down this path. Rather than sending her to a therapist whose job would be to convince her that being alone, disowned, and neurotic isn't so bad, why not help her NOT be alone and neurotic? She seems like she'd be quite capable of improvement if she was given a hand.

  • FiggyFiggy Registered User regular
    edited July 2009
    Cognisseur wrote: »
    Adult protective services?!

    OCD?!

    Put her in a home?!

    Are you sure you guys aren't getting a little carried away? I'm pretty terrified of posting a picture of my room now, lest you think I'm Satan Reincarnated or something like that.

    She's messy, and she hoards to some (not too ridiculous) degree. She has a job. She keeps the place cleanish. How the hell does this warrant such serious discussion as putting her in a home?

    While I don't think the only option is putting this woman in a home, you're off base with your underreaction. From those pictures, that's pretty serious hoarding. The OP says every room is basically the same. It is a problem.

    Also, it's going to get worse and worse. How can you possibly say that the place is still relatively clean? Is she picking up the dozens of boxes and junk to clean underneath? No.

    I don't think putting her in a home is a necessary end, but getting her therapy definitely is. She is hoarding and most likely depressed as well.

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  • oldsakoldsak Registered User regular
    edited July 2009
    You need to be firm and calm with her, and insist on helping. Also don't characterize it as "cleaning out" or "throwing things out" (which you will inevitably do), and instead call it "organizing."

    Go to her and say "mom, we need to organize this place. I'm coming over Saturday and we'll take care of it."

    You said she responds with anger, so she'll probably throw a fit. At this point, it's important to remain calm and not back down.

    "Mom, the situation is negatively affecting your quality of life."

    This probably won't make her see the light as from your description it sounds like she has an irrational attachment to her clutter. Stick to your guns, remain calm, and be insistent. Don't suggest you help her organize it. Tell her you're going to help her organize it.

    When it comes to d day make sure you show up bright and early, don't give her any excuses to put it off. Go in with some sort of plan, even if it's just the order of which rooms to tackle. If she wants to keep anything make her justify it. You might want to get a storage unit in case you can't make her back down from a lot of items.

  • KistraKistra Registered User regular
    edited July 2009
    Zoel wrote: »
    The best way forward for her might be therapy, and potentially medication.

    I've gotten close to convincing her of this, but she's really concerned about the cost of therapy. More importantly, she's concerned that if a doctor thinks she has an actual problem, then she might somehow be forced into managed care or having strangers in her house or something.

    What if you took the time to research different therapists in your area and find one that is decidedly pro-independence? This might help alleviate the second half of her fears. Can you offer to help with the cost of therapy or look into programs that might help her?

    I am still going to recommend a retirement community/condo with lots of old people. She obviously doesn't ever want to be forced anywhere. Point out that she won't have to deal with outside maintenance and will be able to live independently in a condo for longer than she will in an individual house.

    The community aspect is really the more important part. Does you mother currently go out with friends on a regular basis? You say she was disowned by the rest of your family, was that most of her social circle? In a retirement condo there will likely be common rooms where she can entertain friends without being embarrassed about the state of her home while she works through the hoarding. In some condos they even offer separate storage rooms so she can keep stuff without having it in her living area.

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  • rockmonkeyrockmonkey Registered User regular
    edited July 2009
    Cognisseur wrote: »
    Adult protective services?!

    OCD?!

    Put her in a home?!

    Are you sure you guys aren't getting a little carried away? I'm pretty terrified of posting a picture of my room now, lest you think I'm Satan Reincarnated or something like that.

    She's messy, and she hoards to some (not too ridiculous) degree. She has a job. She keeps the place cleanish. How the hell does this warrant such serious discussion as putting her in a home?

    I don't think you can get a cleaning lady or anything because your mom is intentionally keeping the stuff there, even if most of us think it's bad stuff and a bad place for it. You can, as mentioned previously, offer to clean with her, but that's it.

    I really think the title of this thread is misleading. You have a messy mom; that doesn't mean she can't take care of herself.

    -Edit- I second Enc's suggestion about Cleaning Day. Your mom isn't just randomly sick like you might pick up the flu or something. Her environment has led her down this path. Rather than sending her to a therapist whose job would be to convince her that being alone, disowned, and neurotic isn't so bad, why not help her NOT be alone and neurotic? She seems like she'd be quite capable of improvement if she was given a hand.

    I agree that some of the responses about therapy or a home might be premature.


    There is also the problem of her not maintaining her home and car and getting repairs done. This isn't something she would be doing herself, but she seems too apathic to even call the HVAC repair guy to fix her A/C or take her car in for half an hour to get an oil change / tire rotation.

    Now my personal response if I was the OP would be to simply call and get the A/C fixed for her, and take her car one weekend for maintenance.
    I don't mean to sound sexist or anything but a lot of women from earlier generations were raised and lived where the man took care of such things and if she has lost a husband she may not want to do such things because she's never done them and may be intimidated of looking ignorant when not knowing what to do or how much things should cost.

    I know a lot of modern working women who have husbands who still take the wife's car for oil changes, and it's their job to keep the house in good repair. Maybe the mom in this situation needs a little support and as an able son I see it as his place to give that support and help out his aging mother by fixing things around the house or at least call to get them fixed.

    If the "positive" direction I mention in my other post doesn't fly you might need to get stern with her. Maybe she'll respond ok if you try to put your foot down and stop asking and start doing/telling.

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  • Bionic MonkeyBionic Monkey Registered User, ClubPA
    edited July 2009
    She's showing classic signs of OCD Hoarding. Just being stern with her or "putting your foot down" or even cleaning up for her, aren't going to solve anything. If I'm right, this is a mental illness, and she needs help.

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  • CorvusCorvus Caw? VancouverRegistered User regular
    edited July 2009
    She's showing classic signs of OCD Hoarding. Just being stern with her or "putting your foot down" or even cleaning up for her, aren't going to solve anything. If I'm right, this is a mental illness, and she needs help.

    Yeah, agreed. Maybe I'm biased as someone who has had to deal with multi-generational hoarding in my family, but cleaning up for the person often doesn't help. And "putting your foot down" will lead to a lot of conflict. The goal here is to get the person to realize that all this crap they're hanging onto is causing them and their family a lot of emotional distress. Therapy seems like a good way to get the hoarder to change behaviours, if they're willing to get into it.

    There's a spectrum of hoarding, from the worstcase cock roaches and giant piles of garbage to not wanting to throw out anything ever owned by your passed on family members, even if its junk.

  • dispatch.odispatch.o Registered User regular
    edited July 2009
    Cognisseur wrote: »
    Adult protective services?!

    OCD?!

    Put her in a home?!

    Are you sure you guys aren't getting a little carried away? I'm pretty terrified of posting a picture of my room now, lest you think I'm Satan Reincarnated or something like that.

    She's messy, and she hoards to some (not too ridiculous) degree. She has a job. She keeps the place cleanish. How the hell does this warrant such serious discussion as putting her in a home?

    I don't think you can get a cleaning lady or anything because your mom is intentionally keeping the stuff there, even if most of us think it's bad stuff and a bad place for it. You can, as mentioned previously, offer to clean with her, but that's it.

    I really think the title of this thread is misleading. You have a messy mom; that doesn't mean she can't take care of herself.

    -Edit- I second Enc's suggestion about Cleaning Day. Your mom isn't just randomly sick like you might pick up the flu or something. Her environment has led her down this path. Rather than sending her to a therapist whose job would be to convince her that being alone, disowned, and neurotic isn't so bad, why not help her NOT be alone and neurotic? She seems like she'd be quite capable of improvement if she was given a hand.

    Yes fucking adult protective services, they don't swoop in and drag her off to a mental hospital, they can talk to her and the family and provide direction toward services she may require, and do so at no cost.

  • EncEnc FloridaRegistered User regular
    edited July 2009
    dispatch.o wrote: »
    Cognisseur wrote: »
    Adult protective services?!

    OCD?!

    Put her in a home?!

    Are you sure you guys aren't getting a little carried away? I'm pretty terrified of posting a picture of my room now, lest you think I'm Satan Reincarnated or something like that.

    She's messy, and she hoards to some (not too ridiculous) degree. She has a job. She keeps the place cleanish. How the hell does this warrant such serious discussion as putting her in a home?

    I don't think you can get a cleaning lady or anything because your mom is intentionally keeping the stuff there, even if most of us think it's bad stuff and a bad place for it. You can, as mentioned previously, offer to clean with her, but that's it.

    I really think the title of this thread is misleading. You have a messy mom; that doesn't mean she can't take care of herself.

    -Edit- I second Enc's suggestion about Cleaning Day. Your mom isn't just randomly sick like you might pick up the flu or something. Her environment has led her down this path. Rather than sending her to a therapist whose job would be to convince her that being alone, disowned, and neurotic isn't so bad, why not help her NOT be alone and neurotic? She seems like she'd be quite capable of improvement if she was given a hand.

    Yes fucking adult protective services, they don't swoop in and drag her off to a mental hospital, they can talk to her and the family and provide direction toward services she may require, and do so at no cost.

    I think the incredulity myself and others have with this is the lack of communication stating this is necessary at this point in time. This is absolutely the right course of action should she be at the stage where she can no longer provide for herself, but currently it seems like the primary problem is based on the OP's concern with her messes and lifestyle more than her inability to function.

    Certainly, something needs to be done. But these are later steps. I would think interacting with her more, assisting with her in a passively progressive way (such as the yard sale idea, cleaning days, other such options) would be a better place to start than, say, bringing up therapy or nursing homes, which will come off as belittling or highly offensive if other options have not been attempted (especially since she is still very much independent). Proposing medicine or holding threats over her head (such as the clean or I'm not seeing you) are also demeaning. If the clutter is a newish symptom, as the OP states, it is probably rooted in her depression/isolation issues.

    I seriously, very very seriously, suggest spending more time with her regularly (and not just a week or so, but a few months) before pursuing the more drastic alternatives. This is her life you are talking about, and while she may not be taking good care of herself, that's no reason to call her OCD and the like without putting some effort in to assist her first.

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  • rockmonkeyrockmonkey Registered User regular
    edited July 2009
    Enc wrote: »
    dispatch.o wrote: »
    Cognisseur wrote: »
    Adult protective services?!

    OCD?!

    Put her in a home?!

    Are you sure you guys aren't getting a little carried away? I'm pretty terrified of posting a picture of my room now, lest you think I'm Satan Reincarnated or something like that.

    She's messy, and she hoards to some (not too ridiculous) degree. She has a job. She keeps the place cleanish. How the hell does this warrant such serious discussion as putting her in a home?

    I don't think you can get a cleaning lady or anything because your mom is intentionally keeping the stuff there, even if most of us think it's bad stuff and a bad place for it. You can, as mentioned previously, offer to clean with her, but that's it.

    I really think the title of this thread is misleading. You have a messy mom; that doesn't mean she can't take care of herself.

    -Edit- I second Enc's suggestion about Cleaning Day. Your mom isn't just randomly sick like you might pick up the flu or something. Her environment has led her down this path. Rather than sending her to a therapist whose job would be to convince her that being alone, disowned, and neurotic isn't so bad, why not help her NOT be alone and neurotic? She seems like she'd be quite capable of improvement if she was given a hand.

    Yes fucking adult protective services, they don't swoop in and drag her off to a mental hospital, they can talk to her and the family and provide direction toward services she may require, and do so at no cost.

    I think the incredulity myself and others have with this is the lack of communication stating this is necessary at this point in time. This is absolutely the right course of action should she be at the stage where she can no longer provide for herself, but currently it seems like the primary problem is based on the OP's concern with her messes and lifestyle more than her inability to function.

    Certainly, something needs to be done. But these are later steps. I would think interacting with her more, assisting with her in a passively progressive way (such as the yard sale idea, cleaning days, other such options) would be a better place to start than, say, bringing up therapy or nursing homes, which will come off as belittling or highly offensive if other options have not been attempted (especially since she is still very much independent). Proposing medicine or holding threats over her head (such as the clean or I'm not seeing you) are also demeaning. If the clutter is a newish symptom, as the OP states, it is probably rooted in her depression/isolation issues.

    I seriously, very very seriously, suggest spending more time with her regularly (and not just a week or so, but a few months) before pursuing the more drastic alternatives. This is her life you are talking about, and while she may not be taking good care of herself, that's no reason to call her OCD and the like without putting some effort in to assist her first.

    Well put.

    She may very well have OCD issues with hoarding but we have very little information on the situation and making an informed descision is key. Why WOULDN'T you at least try to help her yourself before the more desperate options.
    She's an older lady living alone, depressed, not a lot of close family/friends from what it sounds like so she's lonely, still has to work hard for her living. It would probably really help to spend a lot more time with her. If she lives in the same town consider doing dinner with her most nights, spend the day with her on the weekend (assuming you both have off).

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  • KistraKistra Registered User regular
    edited July 2009
    Enc wrote: »
    dispatch.o wrote: »
    Cognisseur wrote: »
    Adult protective services?!

    OCD?!

    Put her in a home?!

    Are you sure you guys aren't getting a little carried away? I'm pretty terrified of posting a picture of my room now, lest you think I'm Satan Reincarnated or something like that.

    She's messy, and she hoards to some (not too ridiculous) degree. She has a job. She keeps the place cleanish. How the hell does this warrant such serious discussion as putting her in a home?

    I don't think you can get a cleaning lady or anything because your mom is intentionally keeping the stuff there, even if most of us think it's bad stuff and a bad place for it. You can, as mentioned previously, offer to clean with her, but that's it.

    I really think the title of this thread is misleading. You have a messy mom; that doesn't mean she can't take care of herself.

    -Edit- I second Enc's suggestion about Cleaning Day. Your mom isn't just randomly sick like you might pick up the flu or something. Her environment has led her down this path. Rather than sending her to a therapist whose job would be to convince her that being alone, disowned, and neurotic isn't so bad, why not help her NOT be alone and neurotic? She seems like she'd be quite capable of improvement if she was given a hand.

    Yes fucking adult protective services, they don't swoop in and drag her off to a mental hospital, they can talk to her and the family and provide direction toward services she may require, and do so at no cost.

    I think the incredulity myself and others have with this is the lack of communication stating this is necessary at this point in time. This is absolutely the right course of action should she be at the stage where she can no longer provide for herself, but currently it seems like the primary problem is based on the OP's concern with her messes and lifestyle more than her inability to function.

    Certainly, something needs to be done. But these are later steps. I would think interacting with her more, assisting with her in a passively progressive way (such as the yard sale idea, cleaning days, other such options) would be a better place to start than, say, bringing up therapy or nursing homes, which will come off as belittling or highly offensive if other options have not been attempted (especially since she is still very much independent). Proposing medicine or holding threats over her head (such as the clean or I'm not seeing you) are also demeaning. If the clutter is a newish symptom, as the OP states, it is probably rooted in her depression/isolation issues.

    I seriously, very very seriously, suggest spending more time with her regularly (and not just a week or so, but a few months) before pursuing the more drastic alternatives. This is her life you are talking about, and while she may not be taking good care of herself, that's no reason to call her OCD and the like without putting some effort in to assist her first.

    The one thing that you seem to be missing is that APS is not just an agency to provide drastic services. They are also a place you can call and say "my mother is interested in some therapy but she is worried about the cost and worried about being placed against her will. Do you have any programs that can get her in touch with a therapist who willing to see her at a reduced rate and can you explain to me the circumstances that could possibly get my mother placed in a nursing home against her will."

    They will likely be able to refer the OP to low cost therapy - which is something his mother has expressed some level of interest in already. They will also be able to provide the exact laws of the state that the OP lives in about forced placement which is something the mother is scared of. The laws will likely reassure her because it doesn't sound like that is something she needs. I don't see how seeking out information and services that the OP thinks will help and the mother has expressed some interest in is drastic.

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  • CelestialBadgerCelestialBadger Registered User regular
    edited July 2009
    Zoel wrote: »
    Yeah. She is usually depressed. Basically, everyone else in my family has disowned her for various reasons and she has a lot of problems interacting with other people. I once tried the "Look I'm not coming over until you clean it up." strategy but that didn't work at all and just made her more depressed.

    I think the problem here is the loss of contact between your mother and her family. She must be feeling very insecure about entering old age almost alone. So she's hoarding stuff full of memories against the loneliness. Make sure she knows your love is not conditional, and you are not going to go away. Help her find some new friends somehow. Encourage her to go to church, or join a society. Maybe even go with her the first few times.

    Sheltered housing or a nursing home sounds extreme (and expensive) for an old person with a problem that could have easily struck at a younger age - loneliness, depression, and resultant hoarding. Just because she's old and has a problem, it doesn't automatically mean her problem is caused by age.

  • ZoelZoel Registered User regular
    edited July 2009
    So this morning I woke up to a message on my voice mail.

    "Hey son. I am just calling you to make sure you don't show anyone those pictures. I am sort of worried that if someone sees them I will be declared incompetent."

    I think she drastically over evaluates the general desire to stalk me on the internet.

    Honestly, if it was merely that her house was messy then I wouldn't be as concerned. I mean some people are just messy, and as I stated earlier there isn't any food debris or pest problem. My main concern is that she realizes the car, the mess, the air conditioning, or various medical problems like toothaches or illnesses when they arise, etc. are all rather dire issues, but she is unwilling or unable to actually do anything about them.

    I decided against going to protective services. In a normal situation (as normal as can be anyway) that would be a good idea, but I sort of understated how strained the situation between her and my aunts is. I talked with her about getting therapy today and she explained her settlement agreement to me, which is basically she's paying off the house to them. To be more specific, she's worried that they're looking for an in to sue her (again) over the 2001 will based on the legal settlement that she has going with them. Quite frankly I don't want to risk getting her declared incompetent because I don't want to give that line of the family tree any leeway if I can help it.

    So I guess that leaves therapy, but at least bringing up the idea of protective services might have scared her into actually accepting some help.

  • VoodooVVoodooV Registered User regular
    edited July 2009
    I can sorta relate, except it's the opposite. My mom is a complete neat freak. But she's had a long history of mental health problems like bipolar and manic depression.

    She takes care of her self and her money (she saves it very well, but she is absolutely convinced she knows more than an investment banker, which is her smokescreen for how she's completely afraid of actually putting her money to work for her so she can have even more.)

    She's a complete introvert though. I have to remind her to say please and thank you to service people if we go out to eat. She's a master of coming up with excuses for why she can't get off her ass and start interacting with people.

    It's fun having to treat your parent like a child that needs basic education in manners and social interaction.

    The last time she went off her meds and went into a babbling incoherent breakdown. The nurses called me up and asked me if I could check in on her apt and see if she was taking care of herself. At the time, I hadn't seen her in over a year, but even then I knew I wasn't going to find anything. I think I confused the poor nurse when I started to chuckle.

    How do you force a woman in her 60s to acknowledge that she doesn't know as much as she thinks she does and to acknowledge that "merely existing" does not grant one superior intelligence and wisdom over someone younger yet has actual education and experience and knowledge in a given field. Reason simply fails to work on her. She'll just make up some bullshit excuse.

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