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Hoarding...not just on TV
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# 41
nearlyrich
Old 10-06-2012, 10:32 PM
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My mum never threw anything away that she thought might come in handy, she had hundreds of margarine tubs too much furniture clothes that fit her 15 years ago. I did clear a lot of stuff when she had a fall and was staying with my sister and she never asked about anything she missed. The kitchen was still stocked with enough crockery etc to feed an army and she loved gadgets like salad spinners.

The house was clean but never tidy because there was not enough room to put everything away, later when she passed away I found boxes and boxes of stuff like she had just cleared a surface into the box and forgot about it. She always used to buy cards for birthdays etc and forget where she put them and then she would buy another, found loads when we cleared the place.

If you can get her away for a day or two Jo-jo you get more chance to throw rubbish away..Good luck.

I though it was horrendous but she was a long long way from the people on the TV..
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# 42
Jojo the Tightfisted
Old 10-06-2012, 11:15 PM
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Thanks, everyone. I initially just wanted to start with the hall, as I had no idea what was lying in wait for me and it sounded simple;bag up 25 coats and several shoes, brooms and gadgets, wash down the woodwork and the door to get her accustomed to the idea.

She'd even agreed to move them for me.

But when I got there, she had been fannying around tipping stuff from one corner in front of the back door. Allegedly. And the sheer scale of stuff was like a shovel found the back of the head.

So I had no choice but to abandon my plans and get dug in. I suspect any Plan I come up with will be rejected for one reason or another, I'm not even convinced she hasn't spent her Sunday deliberately filling the void under the table with more stuff.


But she said I can come again in the morning. Oh, and she's off to get her hair done.

I think I'll aim for finding the kitchen sink this time. Maybe the table top as well. If that's unacceptable, I'll try to find the bath and maybe even the toilet floor. If that's rejected, I'll wash the front door and hall window.



I have asked for the council details, but she claims this is all verbal and that nothing can be done without a letter and then she'll make sure they can't chuck her out. I smell !!!!!!!!. Which makes a change from catshit, I must admit.

If she does get evicted before getting herself killed in there from tripping or fire or smothering or infection, she's not coming here. I am not having her triumphantly exclaim upon finding a cup on the bookcase that there is proof my house is identical to hers and I'm a hypocrite. I've had her here once and she informed me that the place was cold, bare and I had to get some bookcases to fill the 3 foot wide landing. And I needed some ornaments and pictures of doggies, apparently.

It's not spotless here, but even everyday stuff bugs me, like a plate on the side and not in the dishwasher. Or using a mug for tea twice without washing it in between. Or that I've put some paperwork in alike to look at later, as I'm too busy and it looks like a paper hoarder starting up.

I keep on reminding myself that I chose to not deck her the last day she ever hit me, I chose to offer help, I can choose to walk away if she loses it again. Or if it takes uP too much of my life and energy.


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Last edited by Jojo the Tightfisted; 10-06-2012 at 11:24 PM.
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# 43
theoldcynic
Old 10-06-2012, 11:39 PM
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Jojo, before you go to sleep, I wanted to say that I think what your mother is doing is called projection. She is projecting her own issues onto you. This is a really simplified explanation of it...

http://psychology.about.com/od/theor...ensemech_7.htm

This is really hard to handle when it is your own mother doing this, as we are so used as a child to taking them at their word and often internalising it.

You need to understand that she is doing this as a defence mechanism, it appears to be a part of her web of denial. Your greatest asset to you at this moment in time is to be aware of and vigilant to her behaviours and actions. As long as you are aware and can look at them from a distance you can try to emotionally separate yourself from it.

From what you say I don't believe you are a hoarder, you need to believe that yourself. Always check what she says with other loved ones, fact check her statements about you with others and ask their opinion, don't let her sow the seeds of doubt in your mind.

I also don't believe that it is for the best or healthy that she lives with you for her or yourself. As I said it sounds like you need to have a frank conversation with her about what her expectations are from you and what she thinks will happen if she is evicted. Make it clear that she is not welcome to live at your home. It seems as if she wants your help in one hand yet is not prepared to accept it in another. This will put you in a very frustrating position, and it is no wonder your sympathy has run out.

I hope you manage to sleep well tonight x
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# 44
BitterAndTwisted
Old 10-06-2012, 11:41 PM
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I'd be minded to speak to the Council's Housing Department, if they will talk to you. Once things like this are in train, they can be a bit unstoppable. Your mother may have a lot less time to get this sorted (or you do) than she thinks.

Getting her hair done! And then coming home to that filthy squalor. She's not well and I wonder if you could try to ger her GP involved somehow?
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# 45
short_bird
Old 11-06-2012, 12:03 AM
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Data protection means they may not be willing to speak to anyone other than the tenant, in which case the only info available about the action they will take is what is contained in the conditions of tenancy for her housing provider. That'll have information on tenant responsibilities. (Probably available online) And whatever JoJo's mum decides to pass on from the council chap visit. I'm surprised that he hasn't left a letter, they usually do.
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# 46
whitewing
Old 11-06-2012, 12:07 AM
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JoJo,

Don't make yourself ill over this. She does need help but it doesn't have to be you that gives it, and you certainly don't have to do it alone. She may be your mother, but it doesn't sound like she is very kind to you. Get yourself some help with dealing with her/the hoarding.
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# 47
splishsplash
Old 11-06-2012, 8:40 AM
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Hi Jojo
I have had minimal experience of clean-ups for people suffering from senile squalor syndrome. Not exactly the same as hoarding, but involves hoarding, so a bit similar.

Clean-ups usually involve very many people over a long period of time, from several different agencies and professions. Almost all projects involve a significant cost, with monies coming from different sources for different aspects of the clean up. These jobs involve not only the physical removal of the hoard and cleaning up, but also dealing with the impact the hoard has had on the structure of the house... which can be extensive. Especially when there's a food hoard, and all that comes with that.

I think you're at risk of becoming overwhelmed and burned out if you try to tackle this by yourself. I really think you need a lot of help and concrete information before you do any more.

Why not see if you can phone the council from your mum's, get her to give consent to the minion for you to talk on her behalf, and arrange a meeting for the three of you to see exactly what timeframe is involved and what level of clear out they are looking for (i.e. maybe just the exterior and habitable food prep area, sleep area and bathroom for now). It would be good to clarify exactly what the consequences of non-compliance will be, so you can keep reminding her of these as things unfold and emotions run high over the coming weeks.

Also really probe them for info regarding funds you can access and see if you can get your mum to agree to a specialist cleaning company coming in for a week - they could really make short work of it and relieve you of a huge amount of work. You'll still have your work cut out for you in terms of continuing the cleaning and helping your mum set up strategies to prevent this starting all over again, and for that, she will need professional help. If she doesn't accept that, then resign yourself to the fact that she will just start hoarding again and don't even attempt to waste your energy trying to get her to change by yourself. You're not going to be able to.

If no funds or practical help is forthcoming from the council, I would ask at her local church, charities, voluntary bodies etc.

It sounds like you have a colourful history with your mother, but to be successful at dealing with the hoard, it will be necessary to put this aside - which may be nigh on impossible, or come at a high cost to you emotionally. A 'frail' 78 year old woman's verbal abuse is not going to touch an outsider the way it will wound you, and her physical abuse would would not be an issue from how she presents to the world, from what you say.

I really think you would be better a little removed from the actual processes involved in the clearing out of the hoard. I wish you well and admire your willingness to involve yourself in this - I think I would be running for the hills .
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# 48
Barneysmom
Old 11-06-2012, 8:54 AM
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It's like a game of chess. You move a strategic piece and there's another one put in it's place in the blink of an eye. A long battle ahead.
Eat properly, drink copious amounts of tea and coffee, and plod on.


I used to wait for mom to go away for a week's holiday with my stepdad when I was a teenager, then I'd blast the kitchen. Nothing would be left and the whole place would get a dousing in bleach.
She never bought bleach, she thought (and still does afaik) it's a dangerous chemical.
Ofcourse a few weeks later it'd be covered in crumbs again and newspapers would be stacked in the corner.
She's not as bad as she was but I still cringe when I have to go as there's not really anywhere to park your bum, the settee has stacks of mags/mewspapers and fliers on the end where she doesn't sit.

I'm a bleachaholic. I have a gallon container stored in the bathroom in the cupboard where the boiler lives, and probably 4 bottles of various types of bleach under the sink amongst the bottles of Flash/Dettol etc.(the grotbuster's good )
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# 49
GreyQueen
Old 11-06-2012, 8:54 AM
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Ohh, Jo Jo (((((hugs)))) My own Mum, whom I love to pieces, is somewhat of a hoarder, but nothing like what you've described. However, the short hairs on my nape go up when I read about severe hoarding. I think a lot of us know someone in our own family or circle who has this problem, or have a glimmer of the tenancy ourselves (I have a few issues, fiercely controlled) which make this a wince-making subject.

I work for a local authority and, if your Mum is reporting accurately that her Council landlord are threatening eviction, there will be a LOT of stuff in writing. To get legal possession of your mother's home, the Council will have to go to court and demonstrate that everything humanly possible has been done to resolve the problem, and has failed. The judge will be have you tried this?, have you tried that? and if they think all possible avenues haven't been exhausted, they won't rule in the Council's favour. Even when council tenants have behaved appallingly, it is very difficult to get legal possession of the home, and the Council landlord will treat court action as the very last resort.

If the Council does get legal possession, your mother will get a departure date, and if she doesn't leave, they will go back to court and get a warrant of eviction. There can be a long wait until a court officer is available, so while a possession hearing will normally grant possession in 14 days, if the tenant doesn't vacate, the Council will have to go back to court to get a warrant of eviction, which will have to be executed by a court officer and one of them might not be available for several weeks, or even a couple of months (I've known it to take that long).

The Council will deliver her a letter with the day and time of the scheduled eviction. If she doesn't get out ahead of time, they will literally be on her doorstep with a locksmith, a housing officer (or two), the court officer, perhaps Police (not usual but possible if they suspect there may be a breach of the peace) and put her out of doors and change the locks behind her. Sometimes they allow people half an hour to pack a bag but they can just escort her outside in what she stands up in.

It's grim but it happens every single week to some poor souls. They will then empty the home, inventory and store the belongings (such as is reasonable, they won't store perishable food or obvious trash) and she will have 1 month to collect them for the storage facility, subject to her paying the costs of removal and storage. If it goes past that, the Council can and will dispose however they see fit.

The Council will be forbidden to discuss your mother's dealings with them under the Data Protection Act, unless you can persuade her to sign a third party authority ( a simple letter saying I authorise my daughter JoJo to discuss my tenancy) with a signature and date will suffice. They will have to verify the sig against something else they have on file. Under DPA, they can passively receive information from you and give general purpose information about how they would normally proceed in X set of circumstances, but not discuss things specific to your mother. You might also want to look at www.shelter.org.uk to see if you can get some advice.

Please, hun, be very careful of your own mental and physical well-being at this time. There aren't any easy answers.

HTH GQ x
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# 50
Dustykitten
Old 11-06-2012, 12:08 PM
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JoJo

Hugs sweetie, it's all been said by people far more knowledgeable than I am.

Be kind to yourself. Try to leave all the emotional baggage of this at her front door and don't take it to your own home.

Good luck, get support and whilst I'm not a quitter sometimes things are not able to be finished xx

The birds of sadness may fly overhead but don't let them nest in your hair
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# 51
adelight
Old 11-06-2012, 12:44 PM
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There are some US shows about hoarding which are even worse than ones in the UK, it can get so much worse. People with 1000s of rats living in the walls, spending life savings, no running water or electricity and ferrel dogs etc. I suppose people never see it as a problem or think they'll never get that bad.

My Grandparents are hoarders but the house is so big (stately home size) and so much of it off limits that it doesn't look too horrific. I don't really want to go into too much detail in case someone happens to recognise them. We know it will never be cleared in their lifetime so we just try to keep the in use rooms clear-ish and safe (not counting the fact that the sheer weight of the stuff could cause some ceilings to collapse) by having a bonfire going the entire time they're on holiday. Can you get her out the house long enough to remove the dangerous items and brutally shift some stuff? Or get some more people involved to do it quickly?
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# 52
euronorris
Old 11-06-2012, 3:28 PM
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Sorry to hear that this is something your facing right now JoJo. It has a terrible effect on the family.

It was only last night that I was watching a US show called Hoarders (on Disc RT) and had my eyes opened to just how bad it can get! There wasn't a clear path anywhere in that woman's house (everything was piled up to at least chest height), and even the psychologist looked overwhelmed when stood at the front door, with her breezily telling him 'Oh you just need to climb up here, and then put your foot there, and then step here' etc.

It was interesting seeing them trying to tackle the emotional issues, and you could see that it was having an awful effect on her two adult daughters (they too had left home asap to escape the clutter, mess and grime). They tried hard to help her, her daughters, and the psychologist and a professional organiser, but I'm sad to say that she still had a long way to go by the time the episode finished.

Whilst she had cleared the kitchen and living room to an acceptable level, about 90% of the stuff was now outside instead. And despite having fully paid off the house, she was in danger of losing it due to the fire hazard it presented. It was about to be condemned, pretty much. But telling her this just didn't seem to sink in, she took it as an insult and got angry and upset that her daughters weren't praising her progress. There's nothing more they can do really, except inpatient care and they don't really have the money for it.

So, a couple of things I took from the show that might be helpful:

- The professional organiser pointed out that it has taken years and years to get this bad. It's going to take a long time to clear it also. Are you prepared for that? Do you really want to commit yourself to this task? It's going to be exhausting, and for a long time, and unless she's changed, it'll just build up again.
- There was a company that came along to take away a lot of the stuff, and sell it on (where they could). I believe they took a percentage of the money made, rather than charged a fee. Is that something you could adopt for this 'project'? Would your mother allow it?
- Deal with things on a room by room basis. Or, where absolutely necessary, concentrate on creating a clear emergency exit path.
- Don't allow her to put anything outside, or into another room 'to be sorted later'. That will simply become it's new home. It's either out or in.

I don't know what else to suggest other than getting the GP involved as this is a serious mental health issue.

((HUGS)) for you and everyone else affected by this issue.

x
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# 53
Cheapskate
Old 11-06-2012, 3:51 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by euronorris View Post

So, a couple of things I took from the show that might be helpful:

- The professional organiser pointed out that it has taken years and years to get this bad. It's going to take a long time to clear it also. Are you prepared for that? Do you really want to commit yourself to this task? It's going to be exhausting, and for a long time, and unless she's changed, it'll just build up again.
- There was a company that came along to take away a lot of the stuff, and sell it on (where they could). I believe they took a percentage of the money made, rather than charged a fee. Is that something you could adopt for this 'project'? Would your mother allow it?
- Deal with things on a room by room basis. Or, where absolutely necessary, concentrate on creating a clear emergency exit path.
- Don't allow her to put anything outside, or into another room 'to be sorted later'. That will simply become it's new home. It's either out or in.

x

Quite often I'm overwhelmed by how much we need to do here - it's not a patch on the hoarder documentaries or some people mentioned here, but it's bad for me. Sometimes when I'm upset by it all, DH or DS will say that it took a long time to get this bad and we can't do it all in a day. DH said even if I only filled one carrier bag a day with carp (and threw it away! ) and put a few things in their rightful places, it wouldn't be long before we saw a real difference.

A xo
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# 54
Byatt
Old 11-06-2012, 3:51 PM
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Jo-Jo, as a mum myself, I know I wouldn't want my DD to have to deal with my mental health issues, maybe that means I'm not too bad, I don't know, but I think GQ's post and others here who have offered the practical advice give you the opportunity not to have to deal with this on your own. The cleaning aspect is a long way down on the list of things you need to do to get in place the support your mum needs. Contact the council, her GP and any agencies that can help. Your emotional link to your mum will inevitably cause you distress and possible collapse.

I truly feel for you both.

xxx
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# 55
Tish P
Old 11-06-2012, 4:12 PM
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Hi Jojo,

So sorry to hear you are going through this. You're not alone. You may already know this link, but just in case:
http://www.childrenofhoarders.com/bindex.php

There is also a support group for hoarders called Stepping Out Of Squalor which might help your mum if she's online and wants help - the frustrating thing is that nobody else can make a hoarder change if (s)he doesn't want to.

Hope things work out for you and your mum.
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# 56
pavlovs_dog
Old 11-06-2012, 6:20 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by whitewing View Post
JoJo,

Don't make yourself ill over this. She does need help but it doesn't have to be you that gives it, and you certainly don't have to do it alone. She may be your mother, but it doesn't sound like she is very kind to you. Get yourself some help with dealing with her/the hoarding.
Whilst I understand with, and semi agree with this, I can also empathise with Jo's situation. Those who 'know' me will know that I had a very challenging few years with my mum and moved out of home aged 17 due to the many problems caused by her mental health.

Blood IS thicker than water, and from the outside looking in it can be very difficult to comprehend how anyone can continue to love someone who is repeatedly and sustainably horrible to them. Fortunately my mum and I managed to rebuild our relationship, and are very close now. But even in the darkest days, no matter how much I hated her, I couldn't stop loving her. She's my mum, and she's the only one I'll ever have. That familial bond and the duties that go with it are very hard to shake off.
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# 57
pavlovs_dog
Old 11-06-2012, 6:23 PM
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Jo - for my MIL, having to sort through her mum's things when she died was a big spur for her to declutter her own possessions, as she didn't want her children to have a mammouth task ahead of them when she passes (neither MIL or her mum were real horders BTW).

Would this angle strike a cord with your mum?
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# 58
GreyQueen
Old 11-06-2012, 6:33 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cheapskate View Post
Quite often I'm overwhelmed by how much we need to do here - it's not a patch on the hoarder documentaries or some people mentioned here, but it's bad for me. Sometimes when I'm upset by it all, DH or DS will say that it took a long time to get this bad and we can't do it all in a day. DH said even if I only filled one carrier bag a day with carp (and threw it away! ) and put a few things in their rightful places, it wouldn't be long before we saw a real difference.

A xo
Hi hun, you might find it helpful to pop across to one of my fave online hangouts www.365lessthings.com. It's a lovely blog run by an Australian woman called Colleen, with a great community. It's all about decluttering bit by bit, quite one of the loveliest places on the net, IMO. I post comments there from time to time using my same GQ handle.
Our life is frittered away by detail.....simplify, simplify.
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# 59
Jojo the Tightfisted
Old 12-06-2012, 12:18 AM
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I got hit today. I was really careful not to order her around or throw stuff without her seeing it. But as I was getting ready to go, I let my guard slip and said I probably didn't need what she was going to give me. (an umbrella). Without seeing it coming, I got smacked in the head by a garden rake which jumped two foot back, turned 70 degrees and hit me side on with full power. I still didn't realise I had been hit until I looked round and saw her laughing. She reckons it fell without being touched.


So I emailed my older half sister, who confirmed I probably wasn't imagining it as she battered my eldest brother. And told me to tell social services and walk away.

Seeing as I'm probably up all tonight with a dying cat, another one is due at the vet on weds and I have to get all the paperwork sorted in court next Monday for my youngest to live with her father as she wants to live somewhere that she isn't made to glean her room, I really don't need this.


I'm out.
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# 60
theoldcynic
Old 12-06-2012, 12:54 AM
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Jojo it sounds like this is for the best for both of you. Her behaviour is not acceptable, then and now. The only people that can help her (if anyone can) are people she will not feel she can abuse in this way, and who will take action if she does. Calling social services in this instance is the right thing to do, and I would also report the abuse to them.

I'm so sorry to hear about your cat. I lost a cat recently, I can really empathise with how you feel, they are like family. Concentrate on them for tonight but do get some rest too, your cat will most likely need a rest and they often prefer some solitude towards the end of their life.

It sounds like you have a lot of overwhelming things going on at the moment. Try not to think of them all at once, it really helps to separate them. The irony of your daughter not wanting to live with you due to cleaning her room is not lost on me, and obviously not lost on you too. This must be bringing up very mixed feelings and emotions in you but try not to associate the two together or blame yourself, they are different people with different priorities, going through different troubles.

For now focus on the practical things you need to do, but at some point I think it is wise to confront the emotional feelings this will be bringing up for you too. Try to get some more support from your family/friends if you can, it sounds like you are having a rough ride.

I'll be sending positive thoughts for your cats tonight x

Last edited by theoldcynic; 12-06-2012 at 1:04 AM.
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