Help me help my hoarding neighbors
April 25, 2012 5:10 PM Subscribe
My awesome neighbors need help with a hoarding problem. One spouse has created a living situation that is dangerous to the other and I am in the best position of all their friends and family to help them but I don't know how to tackle this delicate situation.
posted by Foam Pants to human relations (22 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Spouse #1 is a hoarder who can't stay away from garage sales and Salvation Army. Spouse #2 has severe arthritis and the disease has ruined #2's body to the point where picking up a cup or climbing stairs is very difficult. They live in a tiny place where stuff is piled shoulder high. In the past, the hoarding/messiness was kept in check by #2 but the crippling effect of the arthritis means that no longer happens and things have gotten way out of hand. Two months ago, I helped #2 clear a space and tossed five garbage bags of stuff. This barely widened the path through the living room and, since then, #1's habits have filled that space back in again. I am worried that the mess is contributing to #2's asthma problems and it's only a matter of time before #2 takes a bad fall.
These people are the best neighbors anyone could ask for and they have been very good to me. We share meals together and gossip together and they are like family to me and treat me like a daughter. They pretty much have it together aside from this one area.
I have been asked by spouse #2 to help and I really want to. If I had my way, I would go in there and just clear that stuff OUT but I know that would upset both of them. I feel that #1 should seek out counseling but, for private reasons, that isn't possible. I am willing to put a LOT of time in on this. If it takes some time every day for the entire summer, I'm totally willing. I don't know how to make this happen without really hurting feelings. I'd like advice from people who have been there.