(Closed) I'm worried my parents are legitimate hoarders. (long)

posted 4 years ago in Family
Post # 2
449 posts
Helper bee

Sorry, bee. Hoarding is suuuper rough. My advice is based just on my own experience. I had a great aunt who was a hoarder, of cats as well as things, and it was something that never resolved. My husband’s mom shows tendencies and we just try to encourage cleaning out and emotional healing, because for her it’s about not being able to let go of the past. She has had a lot of loss in her life.

Hoarding is often a response to trauma, and you’re correct in thinking that removing the clutter won’t actually solve the issue. The trauma (or other source) has to be addressed.

Your best bet is definitely trying to get them into therapy, because you can’t play that role — and no one in your family can, either.

It’s a tough road, but a good therapist (that specializes in hoarding) knows how to talk to them, to not be ashamed or embarassed, and to walk them through the process.

The bottom line is — this is not your fault. It is not in your power. You, unfortunately, cannot change them. Though you can give them resources to do so, only they can help themselves. So, as hard as it is, I really recommend keeping a healthy distance from the trenches as much as possible.

Post # 3
17 posts

Yes, this sounds like hoarding. My father has very similar behavior. If you read about hoarding it is a mental illness that progresses over time. So while you were growing up things were just cluttered but now the stuff has accumulated to be 6 foot high. I would suggest counseling, and not just going there and throwing away their stuff, that rarely works and causes them emotional distress. My father is not receptive to getting help so you may need to prepare yourself for that possibility too. He says he will get around to cleaning up at some point but I know he can’t part with all his stuff. It’s irrational and infuriating at times so try to be patient and loving. As long as their home is not filthy such as filled with garbage and animal waste and the home is still in working order (water, electric etc) there is not much other you can do if people don’t want to be helped. 

Post # 4
7795 posts
Bumble Beekeeper

Therapy. My mother is a hoarder. She wouldn’t let us in the house and wouldn’t accept help. She was in the hospital ten to twelve years ago (different story) and my sister and I got a dumpster, cleaned the house, had new carpet and tile installed, etc. Aside from her anger that we had touched “her stuff” things were fine for a while. About six years ago her basement flooded and we helped her clean that out as well. Her house is worse today than it was twelve years ago (or so I hear–we’re not allowed in.) We’ve tried to get her to therapy–she’ll find a therapist she likes, go for a while, then stop. I swear I’m never going to clean it out again. We’ll see if I can stick to that.


Post # 5
2777 posts
Sugar bee

My mom is a hoarder, too – and yes, full on hoarding with whole rooms unusable and a definite adverse effect on quality of life. Family members have staged “interventions” at various points coming in to clean things up, but that’s really just a bandaid, and the behavior will resume immediately after the space has been cleared. Besides that, my mom holds grudges about things she’s been compelled to get rid of, and that has caused further resentment, while the people who have tried to help get frustrated. So, sad to say it, but my advice is to butt out. You can suggest that they seek therapy — it sounds like it’s definitely needed — but you can’t force anyone to change when they don’t want to. Love them from afar and be glad you have your own place. 

Post # 6
275 posts
Helper bee

I don’t have any personal family experience, but I do work in public health, and I do condemn homes that become too much of a safety/health hazard. What we do when we go in is to involve professional help for them. I may be telling them that legally and safely they cannot occupy this home anymore, but we always, always get somebody involved that is there for mental help, home placement, etc. Often, it’s adult protective services. There are programs by me to help people – I bet there might be something like that by you that can at least give you some options, if you would want to pursue them. 


PP are correct. You can’t help those who don’t want to be helped. In my job, I step in when there is a hazard. Sometimes that’s all you can do – wait and watch for true hazards, and it’s awful in the meantime, since all you want to do is help. You can’t always help though. All I can say is try to keep an eye on their health and safety, and don’t hesitate to get them professional help if they are in actual danger. 

The topic ‘I'm worried my parents are legitimate hoarders. (long)’ is closed to new replies.

Find Amazing Vendors