Have Mental Health Questions? Ask a Psychiatrist Online
Hi there!! I am hoping to be of some assistance to you today! I am sorry to hear that you are dealing with a difficult situation. May I ask some questions to better help you?
First, what is the age of the person in question, your relationship, and has this person admitted there may be a problem? Or are they resistant to help?
Hi, the age of the person is 66. It is my mother. She is in denial. She is labile. She isolates and is living in completely inappropriate living conditions.
Ok... and I will assume that you have told her that you are concerned and going to have to do something to help her if she isn't willing to acknowledge this issue... and she probably just got angry?
Heidi, she hasn't allowed her children into her home in over 10 years. Yesterday, due to circumstances that forced her to let us in the home (otherwise this would have just continued until who knows when) is when we discovered the severity of the situation. I told her as gently as possible that she was going to need assistance (psychologically) and had a limited acknowledgement to that. We have had a similar encounter with her in 2000 in a previous home. At that time she was abusive, physically and verbally towards me and then seem to emotionally collapse and retreat. Willingness is a moment to moment things as she is generally unreceptive. So, yes anger is high with her.
Ok... well the first answer is this: If she is an adult who is legally competent to manage his/her own affairs (meaning she has not been declared incompetent by a judge and appointed a legal guardian), and the clutter is not immediately life-threatening, he/she has the right to hoard, even though the hoarding might have terrible consequences for her quality of life. The second answer is that if you feel that she is incompetent, and you want to begin the process of finding this out, you would first begin by contacting her Dr. and discussing the severity of her living conditions and your concern for her. Does she see a Dr. who you trust?
No, she has never been declared incompetent by a judge. She does pay her bills and mortgage (as far as we know) in a timely manner. Regarding the clutter, for me it is despicable. Trash piled throughout the entire home in most areas as high as 6 feet and as deep and wide as the room permits, with tiny pathways throughout. (When I say trash I am referring in the literal sense.) Pertaining to her g.p. I have zero confidence in this person. I must admit I have never met the man and in his defense, he is only able to treat her for the things that she discloses. So in saying that, she won't even acknowledge this problem with her children, so I can safely say she poses in her appointments with this g.p.
I am attaching a link to a great article that I found with the information that I think can give you some guidance on this issue. http://www.harthosp.org/InstituteOfLiving/AnxietyDisordersCenter/CompulsiveHoarding/default.aspx
The article gives some step by step advice on what to say, how to say it, how to point out the inconsistency between having family/grandchildren to share her life with but not allowing them inside of her home... etc... and I have also found that should you get to the point where she becomes willing to accept some help in terms of a clean-out, there are services available that specialize in just this set of circumstances. It is a tough one, and you are not alone by a long-shot; if you decide to speak with the Dr., he may be able to work on prescribing something for OCD, or other potential depression which is generally what hoarding behavior is a symptom of.
One more link: http://www.helpguide.org/mental/obsessive_compulsive_disorder_ocd.htm
This will give you some information about what goes on behind this behavior, and some possible treatments to help her.
Thank you for the link. I will go there after this chat. I appreciate the guidance on dialogue. The clean-out is in the early stages. Actually one room in. However, before we proceeded I wanted to see if social svs needed to observe this prior to authorizing assistance. So thank you for that information as well. I am hearing that you feel an initial call to the g.p. today would be a beneficial way to get the help she needs. So, thank you for that. I know she is going to go crazy (as we had called her dr. regarding depression and hasn't forgiven my sister since.) but we will do what is necessary. Thank you Heidi!
It was my pleasure! I wish you all the strength and courage you will need to manage through this... with the right help, you can give her the help and support that she needs right now. She is very fortunate to have you as a daughter!! :-)
I am grateful and appreciate your kind words. You have a great day! I am on my way to read the links. Thank you for your service. Bye :)
Let me know what happens!! Take good care!! :-)