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Old 09-25-2011, 01:08 PM
 
Location: Noo Yawk, Noo Yawk
625 posts, read 1,352,963 times
Reputation: 626

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I am currently doing some pet-sitting for someone who, it turns out, is a hoarder. The situation is not quite at life-threatening extremes, but definitely heading that way. There is a path winding through the junk and garbage in most of her apartment, but the small useable areas are fairly clean (although I am very careful about what I come into contact with when I go there, and roll my pants up so they won't touch the floor). I can see that she "lives" in only a small part of this rather large apartment.

It is obvious that if nothing is done, it will only get worse. I can literally feel how depressed she is when I walk in the door. I am sure by now we all know that hoarding is a recognized mental illness, so I am not looking for nasty comments from mean people about dirty slobs, etc.

I would like to know if anyone here is aware of the process for getting her help, without evicting her (I believe her apt. is stabilized but I'm not sure, as I only just met her). I plan on talking to her when she gets back, and I know there are cleaning services that specialize in hoarders. But what city or state agency can assist me in intervening and getting her the help she needs before she's too far gone and more of a health hazard to her neighbors? She lives in Manhattan. If anyone knows, has practical advice, or personal experience helping a friend, relative, or neighbor, please let me know. Thanks.
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Old 09-25-2011, 01:26 PM
 
Location: Brooklyn,NY
10,614 posts, read 13,151,434 times
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Dept of social services or health services likely. Is this person elderly/disabled?
Talking to her when she gets back, And offering a hand to clean up/organize would be the best course of action though. it sounds like clutter (Excessive amounts) as opposed to garbage at this point. Hoarding at it's most extreme gets to the point the garbage is not even thrown out. Taking action and assisting if the person is receptive to it may prevent further decline, and is a very generous thing to do.
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Old 09-25-2011, 01:32 PM
 
4,502 posts, read 11,991,710 times
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A cleaning service would be great but that won't solve the problem. She's just going to hoard again. How old is this person? Is she old enough to contact Elder Services (or Dept for the Aging)? What about Social Services?

I know a woman who is like this --- she has a beautiful apartment in a beautiful building. She owns the apartment but was almost put out by management. Her apartment was so filthy and crammed with garbage and she had 6 animals that she NEVER walked and never cleaned after. The stench was so horrible, you could smell it when you got off the elevator. This is a luxury building and these are multimillion dollar apartments. She owns hers. The other tenants complained, threatened, and eventually called the Health Dept. The Health Dept came in and gave her violations. She had to pay "x" amount of fines to the court and had to get the place cleaned up. She did a half-arsed job of cleaning up the dog feces and urine, threw out papers, tore up carpet, and used cases and cases of air freshener and Fabuloso to tone down the smell.

She refuses to get rid of things. She has papers and "stuff" everywhere. There is a pathway from her door to the middle of her livingroom. Her entryway "walk in" closet is jammed with "stuff" and you can't even get in it. Her boyfriend walks around with a can of air freshener when he goes from room to room.

I told her she should rent a storage unit if the papers are so important to her but she won't. She says if she "needs" them, they have to be right there for her. I've never been to either bedroom in her apartment but I can only imagine what they must look like.

A few years ago, an elderly friend of hers passed away. We were going over to clean out the apartment because the closest relatives were in another state and asked her to. She refused to toss anything! I told her to donate the (very nice) business clothing, china set, and other useful items to the Salvation Army. The other things (old TV, etc) she could either give away, throw away, or donate. There was nothing there of value. The furniture was no good. Of course, there were a ton of papers. She didn't want to get rid of a thing. I told her she doesn't need ANYTHING from the apartment except maybe some photos. We went through the papers, nothing valuable or important, yet she insisted on keeping them. I found the womans elementary, high school, and college diplomas and report cards and photos as well as the couple's Honeymoon scrapbook ---- very nice keepsakes. I offered to mail them to her favorite nephew so he could have them and decide what to do with them. She refused and said "it was garbage". Go figure.

I don't know what you can do for this person other than to contact Social Services. They do have people who specialize in this stuff. Maybe they can have a counselor come visit her and then slowly move on to get rid of her hoard.

It's such sad and depressing thing to have to deal with. Good luck. :hug:
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Old 09-25-2011, 01:35 PM
 
Location: Northern CA
12,770 posts, read 9,842,707 times
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What exactly is she hoarding? Animals, trinkets, junk? From what I've seen on tv, hoarders are not receptive to changing their ways. They live that way, because they choose to live that way. If you can find phone numbers for family members, that might be a good place to start. You are a stranger, I can't imagine why she would welcome your opinion on how she lives. I do appreciate the fact that she had the wherewithall to hire a pet sitter. I would be concerned about the pet that has no choice.
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Old 09-25-2011, 01:57 PM
 
Location: Beautiful Pelham Parkway,The Bronx
8,479 posts, read 20,378,754 times
Reputation: 6354
Quote:
Originally Posted by citychik View Post
I am currently doing some pet-sitting for someone who, it turns out, is a hoarder. The situation is not quite at life-threatening extremes, but definitely heading that way. There is a path winding through the junk and garbage in most of her apartment, but the small useable areas are fairly clean (although I am very careful about what I come into contact with when I go there, and roll my pants up so they won't touch the floor). I can see that she "lives" in only a small part of this rather large apartment.

It is obvious that if nothing is done, it will only get worse. I can literally feel how depressed she is when I walk in the door. I am sure by now we all know that hoarding is a recognized mental illness, so I am not looking for nasty comments from mean people about dirty slobs, etc.

I would like to know if anyone here is aware of the process for getting her help, without evicting her (I believe her apt. is stabilized but I'm not sure, as I only just met her). I plan on talking to her when she gets back, and I know there are cleaning services that specialize in hoarders. But what city or state agency can assist me in intervening and getting her the help she needs before she's too far gone and more of a health hazard to her neighbors? She lives in Manhattan. If anyone knows, has practical advice, or personal experience helping a friend, relative, or neighbor, please let me know. Thanks.
It is more than a little presumptuous of you to be thinking of calling anyone about this person if,as you admit, you just met her.What right do you have to nose your way in to her business when,by your own admission,there are usable areas in the apartment that are clean ?

Why are you even wondering about her rent stabilization status?What does it have to do with anything? Why would you even think about it?

How do you know it is inevitable it will only get worse with time ? Maybe you have been watching too much TV ?

Beware,your actions could very well lead to an eviction or a precipitous downward spiral.One phone call could bring this person's world crashing down.When you just met her ??????????

If you don't know this person and don't know her history,family/lack of family or whatever you should butt out and do nothing more than pet sit and OBSERVE until you know more.

How would you like it if someone you just met or someone who just moved in next to you decided you were mentally ill and decided to try to fix you ?

Last edited by bluedog2; 09-25-2011 at 02:12 PM..
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Old 09-25-2011, 02:42 PM
 
Location: Noo Yawk, Noo Yawk
625 posts, read 1,352,963 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bluedog2 View Post
It is more than a little presumptuous of you to be thinking of calling anyone about this person if,as you admit, you just met her.What right do you have to nose your way in to her business when,by your own admission,there are usable areas in the apartment that are clean ?
The amount of useable space (approximately 1 to 2% of approx. 1000 sf) does not negate the fact that there is a health hazard here and she is putting herself in harm's way by living this way. The useable area of her kitchen is basically the sink, dish drain, one cabinet, and the area where her cat's bowls are. Everything else in there is filthy and piled with junk. You can't see through the oven window, it's so grimy, and I saw those kinds of bugs that are usually in damp basements crawling around on the floor. I don't know what they are, but we all know that nature will take over where humans do not intervene.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bluedog2 View Post
Why are you even wondering about her rent stabilization status?What does it have to do with anything? Why would you even think about it?
I only mentioned it here in case it makes a difference in what sort of help I can find for her. She told me something about the rent stabilized apartments in her building when she was talking about the fire she had; I assumed she meant that her apartment is RS (it was related to how the fire kept from spreading).

Quote:
Originally Posted by bluedog2 View Post
How do you know it is inevitable it will only get worse with time ? Maybe you have been watching too much TV ?
In actuality, I hardly ever watch TV (last time was about a week ago) and have never watched any of those hoarder shows. But I have known other hoarders in my life and recognize the signs.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bluedog2 View Post
Beware,your actions could very well lead to an eviction or a precipitous downward spiral.One phone call could bring this person's world crashing down.When you just met her ??????????

If you don't know this person and don't know her history,family/lack of family or whatever you should butt out and do nothing more than pet sit and OBSERVE until you know more.

How would you like it if someone you just met or someone who just moved in next to you decided you were mentally ill and decided to try to fix you ?
Butt out? Hit a nerve, have I? Now you are the one being presumptuous. Did I say I was going to make a call while she's away? Didn't I say I want to help without getting her evicted? Why would you think that my post here isn't part of researching what I can do to help after I will have been observing during this period of pet-sitting for her?

I am a very compassionate person and it is clear that this women is only living on the fringe of her own life. The bed is covered with junk that has obviously been on top of it for years. She apparently sleeps on a small corner of her sofa, on top of blankets, next to a pile of garbage and papers, next to two shredded up old cat scratching posts, the remains of which are scattered all over the place. I had a problem turning off a water faucet in the bathroom and so tried to shut off the valve. The knob crumbled in my hand. The cat is on a diet because she got too fat, but clearly it's because there is no room for her to run around and get exercise. I like her and want to help this woman, because no one should live this way! She told me she's been depressed. When you walk into the apartment, you can feel her depression. I am not "deciding to fix" someone, you dolt. I am extending a hand to help a neighbor, someone who is suffering.

Last edited by citychik; 09-25-2011 at 03:01 PM..
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Old 09-25-2011, 02:43 PM
 
Location: Noo Yawk, Noo Yawk
625 posts, read 1,352,963 times
Reputation: 626
Quote:
Originally Posted by claudhopper View Post
What exactly is she hoarding?
Quote:
Originally Posted by D. Scott View Post
Dept of social services or health services likely. Is this person elderly/disabled?
Talking to her when she gets back, And offering a hand to clean up/organize would be the best course of action though. it sounds like clutter (Excessive amounts) as opposed to garbage at this point.
No, believe me, she's a hoarder. I know what clutter is, I'm not the world's neatest person myself. But hers isn't just clutter, it's garbage too (not smelly stuff, mostly paper refuse), and lots and lots of furniture. Walking on the winding path through her living room, I don't think I have ever actually walked on the floor. Any help I can offer would be to find professionals to assist her, not to do anything myself. I'm not about to touch the piles she's got. I've seen a few bugs flying around and there is filth all along the baseboards, etc. I leave the lights on when I exit the apartment, to help a little bit with keeping any vermin from coming out. There is a very small percentage of clean livable space within the disaster of a junk pile. Remember, that the hoarders you see on TV don't get that way overnight.

She told me she had a fire and whoever came in to deal with it (she wasn't home) packed up all her stuff randomly and she still hasn't unpacked her boxes. As if her problem is that she doesn't know where anything is that they packed up. I asked her how long ago that was and it's been six years. She has quite a lot of piles of crap but it just isn't up to the ceiling yet. She's middle-aged, has a job, and apologized to me for her apartment being "messy."

I feel like if she was brave enough to let me into her apartment and trusted me to feed her cat, she might be receptive to my offer of help. I know there are cleaning services that do junk removal and are especially sensitive to hoarders (I have seen articles about this at apartmenttherapy.com), but I would hope that there is some way to intervene through an agency to get her not only cleaning help but psychological help for this, too. Because she's not too far gone yet but seriously heading toward becoming a hopeless disaster.
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Old 09-25-2011, 02:59 PM
 
11,301 posts, read 21,760,664 times
Reputation: 8910
Quote:
Originally Posted by citychik View Post
No, believe me, she's a hoarder. I know what clutter is, I'm not the world's neatest person myself. But hers isn't just clutter, it's garbage too (not smelly stuff, mostly paper refuse), and lots and lots of furniture. Walking on the winding path through her living room, I don't think I have ever actually walked on the floor. Any help I can offer would be to find professionals to assist her, not to do anything myself. I'm not about to touch the piles she's got. I've seen a few bugs flying around and there is filth all along the baseboards, etc. I leave the lights on when I exit the apartment, to help a little bit with keeping any vermin from coming out. There is a very small percentage of clean livable space within the disaster of a junk pile. Remember, that the hoarders you see on TV don't get that way overnight.

She told me she had a fire and whoever came in to deal with it (she wasn't home) packed up all her stuff randomly and she still hasn't unpacked her boxes. As if her problem is that she doesn't know where anything is that they packed up. I asked her how long ago that was and it's been six years. She has quite a lot of piles of crap but it just isn't up to the ceiling yet. She's middle-aged, has a job, and apologized to me for her apartment being "messy."

I feel like if she was brave enough to let me into her apartment and trusted me to feed her cat, she might be receptive to my offer of help. I know there are cleaning services that do junk removal and are especially sensitive to hoarders (I have seen articles about this at apartmenttherapy.com), but I would hope that there is some way to intervene through an agency to get her not only cleaning help but psychological help for this, too. Because she's not too far gone yet but seriously heading toward becoming a hopeless disaster.
Yes, you are extremely compassionate. I would have been too grossed out and would never consider stepping foot in there again. I also have a friend who petsits for a woman who is on the edge of becoming a hoarder and my friend said she feels bad but she's going to just turn down the jobs from now on.

Good luck with finding a solution!!
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Old 09-25-2011, 03:03 PM
 
Location: Noo Yawk, Noo Yawk
625 posts, read 1,352,963 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Henna View Post
Yes, you are extremely compassionate. I would have been too grossed out and would never consider stepping foot in there again.
Thank you. I have thought that I can't go back in, because I do feel itchy and depressed when I walk out of there. But I couldn't leave the cat to be there unfed all this time.
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Old 09-25-2011, 03:13 PM
 
Location: Northern CA
12,770 posts, read 9,842,707 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Henna View Post
Yes, you are extremely compassionate. I would have been too grossed out and would never consider stepping foot in there again. I also have a friend who petsits for a woman who is on the edge of becoming a hoarder and my friend said she feels bad but she's going to just turn down the jobs from now on.

Good luck with finding a solution!!
Yeah, I pet sat for awhile. She travelled alot and had a cat. When she started talking about getting a dog, I tried to talk her out of it, because she travels too much. She got the dog, and I refused to sit for her after that. The only time it could come into the house, was when I was there. Nope, that wasn't for me. I love animals too much to pet sit, especially in the area that I live in. Animals have it bad around here.
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