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what do you buy for the hoarder(s) in your life? - Page 2

post #21 of 25

i want to say this to all of you with hoarder in your family, this is coming from someone that has struggles with hoarding most my life and has let it tip over into total disaster a few times and currently is doing pretty well despite it being a 24/7/365 struggle.


DONT GET THEM ANYTHING before you actually try to help them and i mean really try, not buying them a mop. 

Hoarding is a mental illness, not a lifestyle. while it is different for a lot of different folks struggling with things, it is often the horrible spot were Anxiety about something meets some sort of OCD tendency, they are starting to understand this more and more, just a decade ago they were lost. there are medication and programs that actually work. not just pop therapy that is over when the camera stop rolling, real behavior health work.


would you ignore a family member who was clinically depressed, suicidal? how about bi polar? Manic, panic attacks?




then please consider that this is in those same categories, they need professional help, both in cleaning up their space, but way more importantly at treating their mental illness.


if you really love them, help them get better, drop all judgments, wipe the look of horror and disgust of your face or hire someone that can and get them solid professional help.


then when their mind id cared for, and professionals of amazing loving friends have sorted, decluttered and cleaned their home, then and only then buy them something amazing to celebrate the first day of the rest of their lives.



the hoarder will fight this our of fear, but believe me when i say they do really want to be better, to not be shut in, so not live in fear and filth. its just really really scary to let folks help and even to let them in.



as for gifts, your time with them and an experience gift that you go do with them or drop them off to do will be great for now. i would suggest focusing on a self care gift, a spa day, i great new haircut and color. massage. something that helps them feel better about themselves.

post #22 of 25

I have to say though, that I dont think all hoarders are the same. Yes, some have mental illness. Some don't. Some use it as a way to have control over their lives, as a way to have control over others, and some just plain don't ever spend the time to go through their stuff.


My mother is a hoarder, and I grew up in a house that looked like something you'd see on the hoarding television show. Boxes above my head, 8-10 inch paths all over the house, collections of styrofoam cups that came from fast food restaurants, and just general filth. We cleaned it up over and over and over again- got the house back to clean slate. And it always happened again. Along will all the other mental illnesses my mother has, OCD the primary culprit. She won't throw away anything that has her name on it until it's shredded, but she lets that stuff pile up for months. She won't throw away recycling until it's washed out and not sticky, so there are piles of coke cans. She won't throw away styrofoam because it's bad for the environment, so in order to justify her purchase, she has to reuse the cups. Her house is cluttered because she has projects lined up for them, because she thinks one day we will want them, or because she needs to "organize" it into wherever it "goes". She used to make us sit around and go through the stuff with her to help figure out what to throw away. Hours and hours of paying attention to her and her stuff. At one point in my life, we were paying for three separate storage units that held her stuff. It cost more than her mortgage did. She has never, ever admitted that it's a problem- even when she has been told that her grandchildren cant come into her house because of it's state. Even when CPS took us away and made her clean the house up. It's always the same thing- she wouldnt be in this situation if her kids and husband would "do their part" and help out around the house. It's always someone else's fault. She's even had state mandated therapy for it. 


My MIL had one of those houses that was clean and full of antiques when I started dating DH 10 years ago. She had a 10 year old daughter at home, worked full time, and was the president of her college alumni club. Over the years, I have watched her house fall into shambles. When SIL got to high school, she was hanging out with friends a lot, MIL still worked full time, and to occupy her time she joined clubs and committees so that she wasnt home alone. This carried on over to when SIL went to college. She is never home, and when she is she just heats something up in the microwave and watches tv and goes to bed. She doesnt spend time at her house- so she often misses trash day, she doesnt go through stuff and make bags to take to goodwill. When things happen like her printer breaks, she buys a new one, and just moves the old one over to the side. It's not that she wants to keep it, its just that she doesnt "have time" to do anything about it. She is still in the old school mindset of everything she sees on the internet she needs to print out. So her house is covered with recipes, geneology information, and papers from all of her clubs and committees. She doesnt want to keep all of it, but she doesnt really want to sit around by herself and go through it to throw it away. Her mail slot has a pile of mail that is 2.5 feet deep at the base of it. So, needless to say, there is no where in her house available to hang out. We dont do holidays there, we dont visit there- there is no where to sit. Now, in this situation, it's again, someone else's fault. The reason her house is cluttered up is because DH and SIL won't come help her. They are "never home" (yk, like adult children arent when they no longer live at home) and she doesnt feel it's her responsibilty to clean up her own house. We've cleaned it several times, but she wont let anyone throw anything away until she has reviewed it- and that takes a long time. DH is paying for a pod to get some of the stuff out of her house so that other stuff can be sorted, but she is pissy about him paying for a pod because she thinks that he needs to come over and help her sort through everything. You know, with his full time job, his hugely pregnant wife, and his two year old. Cause he has nothing else to do. 



IMO, these are three very, very different types of hoarding. My mom is mentally ill. My MIL is depressed and never home. What I do see with both of them, is a way for two mothers to control their children's time. Both of them want constant, one on one attention from someone at all times and people feeling forced to help is one way that they can get it. So I know there is a lot of judgment and resentment that goes a long with this, but IME the women who hoard in my life are very controlling and they have no problem with the fact that their problem manipulates someone else's time to an extreme extent. They are both people who feel like their children "owe" them something. 

post #23 of 25

i agree that they are very different types of hoarding, but i also say that i think both the ones you mentioned are based in mental illness, one just more subtle than the other. everything is on a spectrum.  they still need help, it can be just as hard to take the needed steps. and that blaming is a confirmation of the fear and struggle they fight with.



I"m very sorry that you have had to deal with this in your childhood and ongoing in your life Holly, no one deserves that. This is exactly why i have been tackling this finally head on for the last little while, to make sure my kids dont get dumped on them.

post #24 of 25
Thread Starter 

hey, OP here. i saw this thread, and thought, oh, i could relate to that. i started reading the first post, said to myself -- gift of meat? that sounds like my parents, too. then i realized i had started the thread. LOL. 


my parents are elderly. dad is 81, mom is in her late 60s. they have intractable problems. i simply cannot fathom being able to help them in the way that Adorkable describes. dad is depressed and has rage issues, too. we (my brothers and i) all have young families. i have a busy life. i cannot be interjecting myself into their situation in an attempt to help them. i have been there, done that. i grew up in it. it is not my burden to bear.


i will get my due share of grief from this. someday my brothers and i and our spouses and our children will have to deal with the colossal mess. my parents own several properties. they are ALL hoarded up. it is sick and wasteful to the extreme. it is offensive. not to mention it is total chaos.


i struggle with my own reactions to the hoarding. i keep up with my own stuff to a decent degree. it's not perfect, but it's not horrible. i have people over on a regular basis. doing so keeps me "honest" with my housekeeping.


i do have some piles of stuff that are sitting in laundry baskets. mostly jumbled up messes of kids artwork, toys and clothes. i HATE sorting these things. doing so makes me exhausted. i think it's a stress reaction that i have internalized. i have to get better about keeping up with my own stuff, being willing to let things go.


i see this as my bigger issue in life -- learning how to take care of me. i wish i could help my parents. but i just can't. restaurant gift cards sound like a good idea. but my parents lose those in their overflowing slop, too. (you should see their car.)


a box of cookies? THAT will get eaten.


i gave Dad a flannel insulated shirt again for Christmas. Mom got a special book. she likes to read. 

post #25 of 25
My parents were missionaries for almost 30 years, so growing up our house never had a chance to get too cluttered because we moved every couple of years, if not more often...and we even spent two years living in a 24ft travel trailer...so there was no chance of hoarding. But my mom grew up fairly poor in a farmhouse with parents who went through the Depression and my grandmother was most definitely a hoarder as well as at least one of my aunts. I wouldn't even sleep in their houses after one time a roach crawled across my face when I was twelve!!

Anyway, six years ago they came home from the mission field for my wedding and right after that my other grandmother got to the point where she needed full time care, so my parents took on that responsibility and moved into the farmhouse that my mom had inherited from her parents...and it has been downhill from there. The house is small and with all the stuff in there it is absolutely claustrophobic!! She doesn't have bags of trash or spoiled food around...she does at least attempt to have a clean kitchen...but there is just so much STUFF that it is almost impossible to maneuver in there. By the second year of my marriage my husband and I decided not to give my parents or any of the children still living at home things that were not perishable or something to use up. So it was always things like drinking chocolate or warm fuzzy house socks or something. Still stuff that might go to waste, but hopefully would get used and not lost!!

The funny thing about my mom is that she is such a technophobe that she is super funny about electronics...especially ones she thinks are worth a lot of money. About five years ago she asked my husband for help picking out a simple home computer for the family...which we found for her. She is so funny about it getting messed up that she barely lets "the kids" mess with it...which currently is not even my sister's two kids (who are seven and almost nine and know WAY more than she does about computers, but they don't get on it anyway)...but she barely lets my almost 19 year old brother and my almost 28 year old sister (who moved home with her kids while getting divorced and going to college) get on her now practically obsolete computer for fear they will "ruin" it by putting programs on it that they haven't run past her!! So they pretty much just use their own electronics off the wifi so as not to annoy her.

So this year, knowing we didn't want to give her yet more STUFF that would either be cheap stuff for her to use up or something that would just get lost in the mess...one of my kid sisters came up with a brilliant idea. All seven of her children as well as my dad went in together and got her a Kindle Fire. Now we can just add books to it when we want (we have access to her Amazon account for that) and we put a few apps on it that she MIGHT use. So far she hasn't even tried to check her email on it cause she is too much of a technophobe to do anything we haven't showed her how to do on there and she just got it in November (combined birthday and Christmas from all of us). But dad says that she won't let anyone touch it but her, that it resides on her headboard when she isn't using it, that she has read quite a few books on it already, and that she even takes it to church to read from now that I helped her install the "only true version" of the Bible on it for her over Thanksgiving!! So it was a perfect gift for her.

Granted, this probably wouldn't work for the person a previous poster posted about who lost their new TV for five years...but for my hoarder mom, it was perfect. Now to figure out what to do next year already!! Haha!!
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