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Old 05-13-2012, 04:17 PM
 
3 posts, read 2,830 times
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I almost feel bad asking this on mother's day, but here goes. I see my mother fairly often (probably once a week) but not always at her condo. I'm there maybe once a month. There last two times I've been it seem to be getting worse and worse and I'm concerned she might be headed towards hoarding.

While it's nothing like what you see on TV there is stuff everywhere and it seems to be getting more and more out of control. Her kitchen table is covered, counters, desk, etc. There are piles of stuff that I'm really just not sure what it is or why it's there. I think some of it is teaching supplies.

It's not always a mess. It was spotless, less than a year ago for a party she had and I don't think it's dirty, just tons of stuff. I'm not certain I'd want my toddler to go there if it gets any worse. There is just so much she could get into.

My siblings live out of state and have brushed off my concerns. Obviously it's a touchy subject. I'm not sure they realize how bad it is. She's never been a neat freak, but it just seems to be spiraling downward. I don't think I could convince her or even suggest therapy. How exactly do I help? Any suggestions? Do I offer to help her sort through stuff or is that just putting a bandaid on the problem?
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Old 05-13-2012, 06:42 PM
 
Location: Location: Location
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dan, I don't know if this helps but - I'm retired, live alone in a 6 room house. I thought with the advent of computers that paperwork would be passe. That is definitely not the case. I get papers from the bank, papers from my health care plan, papers from the pharmacy. Then I have papers from the utilities, and when I pay the bills, I hesitate to discard the "keep this portion for your records".

Because I don't have to keep stuff from view except at Christmas time when the whole family is here, I tend to keep a lot of stuff on the end table next to my chair - Kindle, Kindle charger, cell phone, cell phone charger, remotes, house phone, timer, scissors, - you know, all the odds and ends that I would otherwise have to jump up and retrieve if I "put them away,"

Maybe, if you only visit the condo once a month or so, she, like me, doesn't see the need to put everything in its place. While I think you're wise to recognize there may be a problem, and to offer help to get it organized, you might want to ferret out the reasons. Good luck.
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Old 05-13-2012, 07:01 PM
 
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There are many books on this subject....I suggest you read some of them.

What you do is buy a box of garbage bags, take them with you next time you go to your Mom's place. Tell her that you would like to help her clear off the table. One task. You pick up each piece of paper, and hand it to her. Verbally tell her what it is, "this is a piece of mail from Publishers Clearing House" dated January 2011.". She will look at it for about five minutes....you calmly prompt her...."I think that this is expired.". She hands it to you, you throw it away.

Clearing the table will take roughly three hours....don't get impatient. Don't yell, don't go crazy. Take a six pack of beer or your other favorite beverage.

Plan to go out to dinner or lunch when this task is complete, with your Mom. This is important. She will try to procrastinate....this is an incentive to keep her on task. She might get mean...be prepared to not let this bother you. It is a tactic to distract you...so you will leave...and she won't. Have to go thru stuff.
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Old 05-13-2012, 10:18 PM
 
Location: St. Louis
9,601 posts, read 17,186,194 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jasper12 View Post
There are many books on this subject....I suggest you read some of them.

What you do is buy a box of garbage bags, take them with you next time you go to your Mom's place. Tell her that you would like to help her clear off the table. One task. You pick up each piece of paper, and hand it to her. Verbally tell her what it is, "this is a piece of mail from Publishers Clearing House" dated January 2011.". She will look at it for about five minutes....you calmly prompt her...."I think that this is expired.". She hands it to you, you throw it away.

Clearing the table will take roughly three hours....don't get impatient. Don't yell, don't go crazy. Take a six pack of beer or your other favorite beverage.

Plan to go out to dinner or lunch when this task is complete, with your Mom. This is important. She will try to procrastinate....this is an incentive to keep her on task. She might get mean...be prepared to not let this bother you. It is a tactic to distract you...so you will leave...and she won't. Have to go thru stuff.
Good luck on that one! Truly this is difficult to deal with; the defensiveness shown by hoarders is truly phenomenal, but if your mom's house was spotless a year ago, maybe it's just a rough patch and Jasper's remedy will work.
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Old 05-14-2012, 01:03 AM
 
Location: In a state of denial
1,289 posts, read 2,665,191 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by theatergypsy View Post
dan, I don't know if this helps but - I'm retired, live alone in a 6 room house. I thought with the advent of computers that paperwork would be passe. That is definitely not the case. I get papers from the bank, papers from my health care plan, papers from the pharmacy. Then I have papers from the utilities, and when I pay the bills, I hesitate to discard the "keep this portion for your records".

Because I don't have to keep stuff from view except at Christmas time when the whole family is here, I tend to keep a lot of stuff on the end table next to my chair - Kindle, Kindle charger, cell phone, cell phone charger, remotes, house phone, timer, scissors, - you know, all the odds and ends that I would otherwise have to jump up and retrieve if I "put them away,"

Maybe, if you only visit the condo once a month or so, she, like me, doesn't see the need to put everything in its place. While I think you're wise to recognize there may be a problem, and to offer help to get it organized, you might want to ferret out the reasons. Good luck.
I realized it had gotten too bad when I had a cleaner come in and the dust bunnies were 6" high. We have dogs so I think some of that was from them and keeping the doors and windows open in the winter (Texas). Anyway, she got me started and I realized I have papers out the wazoo. So I got a scanner and a shredder. I'm the process of scanning and shredding all the paperwork that comes into the house. I have piles six feet high (medical records and such). It's going to take a long time with the paperwork, but it's an efficient way to get rid of it all.

Maybe you could suggest bring over a scanner and shredder and start a piles. It will take a while, but the way to get through it is break it down into sections and do sections at a time.
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Old 05-14-2012, 08:46 AM
 
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Quote:
There are many books on this subject....I suggest you read some of them.
I do plan on going to the library later this week and doing some research.

Quote:
dan, I don't know if this helps but - I'm retired, live alone in a 6 room house. I thought with the advent of computers that paperwork would be passe. That is definitely not the case. I get papers from the bank, papers from my health care plan, papers from the pharmacy. Then I have papers from the utilities, and when I pay the bills, I hesitate to discard the "keep this portion for your records".

Maybe, if you only visit the condo once a month or so, she, like me, doesn't see the need to put everything in its place. While I think you're wise to recognize there may be a problem, and to offer help to get it organized, you might want to ferret out the reasons. Good luck.
This does help some. Though what it looks like it worse than what you are describing. She doesn't pick up before I come which is also part of the issue with my siblings. Before they visit she will clean a lot and get things neat, so they don't see the problem. If there is one. I'm really not sure if there is or not. I'm mostly concerned they may be one.

Thank you everyone for your advice. I'm going to see she will take me up on an offer to help clean up the condo. I guess at the very least I'll find out just how attached she is to the stuff. Thanks again.
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Old 05-14-2012, 04:11 PM
 
Location: St. Louis
9,601 posts, read 17,186,194 times
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You know daperdan, you might want to keep an eye out for mental changes too--most of us here have experience with relatives with hoarding habits and I'm betting that the rest of us have seen it coming for years. Your mom's seems to be of a rather sudden onset which would probably qualify as a personality change so you may want to call your mom's best friend or someone that sees her everyday and start asking some questions. I don't want to scare you but I don't want you to let something go that could be dealt with better sooner than later.

My mom's hoarding habit started in ernest when she began to get mild alzheimer's symptoms and she got very possessive and defensive about her stuff, though I always maintained that these weren't personality changes so much as qualities already there that she was hiding.
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Old 05-14-2012, 09:48 PM
 
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Stepka...I am pretty sure that is where my Mom is at...of course...she has always had "issues"...it is just getting worse.

The OP's Mom could also have vision problems...and not able to read the papers...or see where to put things.
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Old 05-16-2012, 08:03 PM
 
3 posts, read 2,830 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stepka View Post
You know daperdan, you might want to keep an eye out for mental changes too--most of us here have experience with relatives with hoarding habits and I'm betting that the rest of us have seen it coming for years. Your mom's seems to be of a rather sudden onset which would probably qualify as a personality change so you may want to call your mom's best friend or someone that sees her everyday and start asking some questions.
That's a good point. I don't know if there is anyone I would feel comfortable asking. She has plenty of friends, but the ones I know well don't see her every day. My mother seems to be in otherwise good mental health. She had bouts of depression before but they were always brought out by rough circumstances in her life. Other than the increased amount of stuff she seems to be collecting there haven't been any noticable changes, but that's not to say they aren't coming. I'll certainly keep an eye out.

Quote:
The OP's Mom could also have vision problems...and not able to read the papers...or see where to put things.
Unfortunately that's not it. She wears glasses, but has regular eye exams. I know she's had a little more trouble getting to everything lately, but she's physically in decent shape for someone her age and keep up with doctor's appointments.

I'm going to suggest helping her clean up over memorial day weekend and see how it goes. I'm hopefully that it's just a rough patch where she is overwhelmed but want to make sure I don't put blinders on and let things get too bad.
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Old 05-16-2012, 09:25 PM
 
18,852 posts, read 31,732,472 times
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Take my advice. Focus on one small area. Do yoga prior to the "party". Take Xanex or drink a beer. You need to have the patience of a saint for this task. Don't get mad or frustrated.

Have a great family bonding experience.....been there....done it....
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