Hoarders: Crazy cat lady edition!
February 25, 2013 3:16 PM Subscribe
Mom is a hoarder; house is making her sick. Adult children worried about her and grossed out. What can we do or say to her that might help? Snowflakes inside...
Tl;dr: What, if anything, can be done or said to reign this situation in?
posted by jrobin276 to Human Relations (19 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
My mom started out normal, but as our parents' marriage deteriorted she quit cleaning. When my dad moved out she quit cooking, and sometime during my college years she became a full-on hoarder... complete with a couple cats and litter trays that are NEVER cleaned, etc. She watches Hoarders and gleefully exclaims "At least I'm not that bad! Yay!"... and she's right, but the margin is getting narrower and narrower. What she needs is a psychologist, but she IS a psychologist. She is also pretty broke (a blizzard unto itself).
I live overseas, and we're planning on having our first child next year. I can't imagine taking a small child there. I'm not super fussy - we like camping, hiking, gardening - we get muddy. My house does not look like Martha's; but there is also not dried up cat vomit/poop all over the floor, layers of dust and grime, mold, peeling paint, rising damp (the house is falling apart), etc.... not to mention that the hosue is literally filled with "stuff" - furniture stacked on furniture and covered with knick-knacks and trash; let no surface be uncluttered!
My brother lives a 5-hour drive away. My sister currently lives in the in-law unit attached to my mom's. She emailed me saying that this winter (they live in a very mild climate - so we're not talking snow or anything) mom's had one cold/flu episode after another, and each one drags on for weeks. I've noticed this in her emails to me as well. Mom says it's because she works with kids... but so does my sister. Of course, mom's in her early 60's and sister is in her mid-twenties. Mom could have some sort of undiagnosed medical issue compromising her immune system, or just be showing signs of getting older... but sis thinks it's the house.
Regardless, living in Gross House isn't helping her health, squicks her kids out, and is going to prevent her grandchildren being allowed at her house (I already won't stay there when I visit home, even when it's just me! I stay with an aunt!). To top it off, the house she's letting fall apart was built by our great grandfather (on Dad's side) = sad; and she intends to leave it to us = EW. My mom's side lives a long time - she could easily spend another 20-30 years mucking up that house, and leaving a bigger and bigger disaster behind. Besides, of course, watching a nice little old lady who's your mom live in squalor just sucks.
Any ideas how to reign this situation in? What works/doesn't work?