Author Topic: Hoarding Making Firefighting Harder  (Read 11678 times)

Matt_D

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Hoarding Making Firefighting Harder
« on: August 28, 2015, 12:42:19 PM »
http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2015/08/hoarding-firefighting/402703/

I don't know whether this is actually mock-able, or just a sad reflection on our society...

Taran Wanderer

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Re: Hoarding Making Firefighting Harder
« Reply #1 on: September 01, 2015, 05:26:54 PM »
It's real, but I don't think it's appropriate to mock. There is some serious mental illness going on there. I recall several hoarder houses from my days as a firefighter. One was just a lifting assist. Imagine getting someone out of a normal ranch style house when there are 12" wide rabbit trails that you have to walk through, clothes and papers piled knee to waist-high on either side.  At least that one smelled reasonably clean and wasn't covered in feces.

Then there was the place that was just gross.  What looked like a month's worth of dishes covered the counters in the kitchen. A new TV had been placed in front of the old TV because, hey, why remove the heavy old tube TV when a flat screen fits so nicely in front of it?  We weren't sure it wasn't a meth house, so we backed out and let it burn while physically restraining the occupant who wanted to go in after her cats.

Hoarding is very, very sad, and it's terrible when a firefighter dies because of it.

FatCat

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Re: Hoarding Making Firefighting Harder
« Reply #2 on: September 02, 2015, 07:52:54 AM »
When cleaning out a hoarded house I found a spot where a fire had started. It had burned quit a lot of things before it destabilized the piles of junk around it and smothered itself out from debris falling on it. It might have been impossible for them to have gotten out if the fire had managed to keep going since the fire was by the door. They had no idea there had been a fire.


I do know a lot of hoarders and they would consider themselves very thrifty. If they see something that they think is a great deal, they buy it -- even if they already own several of that item -- even if they have no use at all for it.
« Last Edit: September 02, 2015, 07:59:35 AM by FatCat »

druth

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Re: Hoarding Making Firefighting Harder
« Reply #3 on: September 04, 2015, 11:22:00 AM »
That's really incredible that you can be so unaware of your stuff and surroundings that you don't even know there was a fire in your own home.

bacchi

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Re: Hoarding Making Firefighting Harder
« Reply #4 on: September 04, 2015, 12:58:35 PM »
I do know a lot of hoarders and they would consider themselves very thrifty. If they see something that they think is a great deal, they buy it -- even if they already own several of that item -- even if they have no use at all for it.

A friend's mom does exactly that. Sewing machine on sale? Get 4, in case 3 break! Need a new container for all the extra crap? Get 10 for the future.

TrMama

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Re: Hoarding Making Firefighting Harder
« Reply #5 on: September 04, 2015, 03:14:08 PM »
That's horrible. It's one thing to keep your home in a total mess. It's quite something else if your mess contributes to someone's death. Someone who was trying to help you.

The article said 2-5% of people are hoarders, but hoarding conditions are present in 25% of house fires. I wonder if that's because the extra stuff contributes to causing more fires? Or makes it harder for the resident to put the fire out themselves, so firefighters must be called?

MrMoneyMaxwell

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Re: Hoarding Making Firefighting Harder
« Reply #6 on: September 04, 2015, 03:28:41 PM »
Hoarding is really an huge mental/emotional problem that needs a *lot* of professional intervention.

If that show ever happens to be on TV, I'll watch it for 10 minutes and just start packing things to sell/donate and I'll deep clean my entire house.

Frankies Girl

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Re: Hoarding Making Firefighting Harder
« Reply #7 on: September 04, 2015, 04:00:30 PM »
Hoarding is a disease. It's not something to mock. Feel sorry for them, feel grateful that you or anyone you love was spared having to deal with this awful illness, it is even completely normal to feel disgust or horror over some of the worst cases, but don't feel contempt or make light out of their situations. Hoarding is an evil, twisted disease, and there but for the grace of your higher power as they say...

I grew up in a hoarder house. I got the hell out of there at 18 but my father (the hoarder) lived in the house until 6 months before his death. He wouldn't listen to my sister or me, and denied that it was "that bad" and was almost violently angry when pushed about it.

My father's hoarding ruined his family relationships, scarred his children for life and likely hastened his own death due to serious lung issues while living in a mold/dust/bug/mice infested environment. If he hadn't had such serious health issues that forced him to move out, he would still be living in the filthy house, surrounded by junk and trash and it is just amazing to me that the house never did burn down.

It took a professional cleaning crew (used to dealing with hoarder houses) 3 days and four 40 foot dumpsters to clean out an 1100 sq ft house.

I still have nightmares about growing up there, cleaning it out and how awful it was.


FLA

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Re: Hoarding Making Firefighting Harder
« Reply #8 on: September 04, 2015, 07:01:28 PM »
I've had my share of hoarders over the years in home care nursing. There are hoarders like my mom, who boxes large amounts of old tupperware and that kind of crap in the basement and cannot get rid of a bill statement so her room has piles of paper on surfaces.  But things are clean, organized in her head only, she is clean and it has not spread throughout the house, makes periodic efforts to get "really organized and get rid of stuff".  She is totally aware she has a problem. There are a lot of people like this once you get in behind closed doors.

And then there are some like this: living in a flat, abject poverty, not enough money for food, slumlord landlord- literally no front door, anyone can walk in and easily break in the particle board doors. Very ill, morbidly obese woman who gets seen twice a day to change the gangrenous wound dressing on the half of a foot she has left. It's like bushwhacking to find her, newspapers up to the ceiling, garbage as well, humongous collections strewn on top of the papers, filthy porcelain dolls falling off the stacks of papers that are taller then me, garage sale toys everywhere, rotting plates of food, bags of garbage the rats have eaten through. As you try to get to the back of the apt, her S.O. is freaking out that you will cause the towers to tumble, you climb over piles of filthy utter crap, bugs, mice, rats scurry. And she literally lives in the bathtub, she eats in there, sleeps in there, moves her bowels and urinates in there, so obese she is naked because the S.O. cannot find a nightgown big enough. She is so wedged in there, I cannot even turn her to bathe her backside. You do the wound care after taking a pile of dolls out of the tub so you can find her feet. And you think surely this person will die soon from some infection or massive wounds on her back side from lying in shit 24 hrs a day.  Nope.

And then I see her house on the news, major fire, amazingly not from her apt. She tells me she was screaming so the firemen would know she was in there.  I have no clue how the heck they got her out of that tub. She and s.o. get placed in very small studio apt at the homeless shelter.  They are distraught to have lost everything they owned. Neither is mentally stable.  But I'm so glad she is out of there even if it puts her in crisis because she can be cleaned, she's been in that bathtub over a year, her hair had not been washed in that year.  Somehow we find ginormous nightgowns, she is in a hospital bed, they have MOWs, SNAP, etc.  You'd think this is all good.  It's not, all of her beloved things are just gone and she is too ill to go out to garage sales to start all over. He's distraught that they are in the city and his vehicle won't make it to the 'burbs for garage sales. He ends up kicked out of the shelter housing (I think he was an untreated paranoid schizophrenic but I'm just a nurse) for fighting other residents, drinking and drugging. She never sees him again.  Now she is stuck in a hospital bed with no one to take care of her. She ends up in the county home, I'd visit, she was broken hearted. Those firemen risked their lives to save her, she is in a "better" place but without psychiatric help, to her, she has nothing.  Jesus Christ, there are meds that work for hoarders/OCD.  But try finding a Medicaid mental health provider willing to make house calls.  Does not happen. And this is the result. I asked at the home if a therapist or anyone had addressed her mental illness, "she's fine".  Yup, just fine.  And as for being funny?  You tell me

pbkmaine

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Re: Hoarding Making Firefighting Harder
« Reply #9 on: September 04, 2015, 07:13:09 PM »
Wow.

sheepstache

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Re: Hoarding Making Firefighting Harder
« Reply #10 on: September 04, 2015, 07:13:18 PM »
Jesus H., FLA.

Thank you for writing that out.

FLA

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Re: Hoarding Making Firefighting Harder
« Reply #11 on: September 04, 2015, 07:25:04 PM »
I tend to take way too long to get to the point, sorry.  That case was probably 15 yrs ago, that lady haunts me, it was heartbreaking. And she kept telling me that they were collecting all these toys to give to poor kids. No agency would touch these toys but she really believed that so it was worse in that she didn't lose just her stuff, she lost years of stuff she really thought would help children.  Going to cry now, so glad I clicked this link, lol!

pbkmaine

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Re: Hoarding Making Firefighting Harder
« Reply #12 on: September 04, 2015, 07:32:36 PM »
I see what mental illness can do to a life and I am so, so grateful for my reasonably firm grip on reality.

Taran Wanderer

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Re: Hoarding Making Firefighting Harder
« Reply #13 on: September 04, 2015, 09:52:28 PM »
FLA - Thank you for sharing your story, and thank you for having the heart to wade through that apartment to help that poor woman.

pdxbator

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Re: Hoarding Making Firefighting Harder
« Reply #14 on: September 04, 2015, 09:57:40 PM »
My mom is a hoarder. It is difficult on my dad and the rest of the family. Luckily it is only clothes. You might laugh, but she has filled up all the bedrooms in the house with great deals from Goodwill. There are piles of clothes, unsorted, towering and dangerous. Luckily we have been able to help sort things a bit and it seems a bit more contained and safer. In talking to her it is crazy to hear how she can rationalize it. She doesn't see it as a problem, and can get VERY angry and upset when the topic comes up. She's now in a spot in her life where she can't make it to Goodwill often due to health issues so the acquisition phase has slowed.

It's so strange to see this in her. It started some time in her later 50s when the kids all left for college and their own lives. She started thrift shopping and it was something that occupied her time. But now the clothes represent who she is. Getting rid of one thing that doesn't even fit is an ordeal.
« Last Edit: September 04, 2015, 09:59:25 PM by pdxbator »

LPeters

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Re: Hoarding Making Firefighting Harder
« Reply #15 on: September 05, 2015, 04:08:55 PM »
So there's this blog I followó Tetanus Burgeró by two sisters over years as they clear out their father's hoard of junk cars (actual, entire cars, 78 at one point), antique Volkswagen parts and whatever the hell else he felt was worth something. They've gotten rid of 12 cars and literally 22.5 tons of scrap metal. It's a good blog, emotional and well-written. I recommend you go back and read from the beginning to the present, but here are some highlights:

Here's Thalia on what Christmas was like in their house, how stingy their father was, how he refused to properly feed his children or pay for heat to keep them warm:
http://tetanusburger.blogspot.com/2010/12/crappy-holidays.html

Thalia on how she doesn't understand how people can remember her father fondly when she grew up in that hell of a house, she wonders why no one ever called child services when it was so obvious (78 cars in their yard) that something wasn't right, how her father was not capable of empathizing with anyone's needs but his own:
http://tetanusburger.blogspot.com/2011/07/uncomfort.html

Thalia on her father's need for control over their household, even to the detriment of his family, even when the solution was simple and easy:
http://tetanusburger.blogspot.com/2010/06/purge.html

Thalia on the nature of hoarders, her father in particular:
http://tetanusburger.blogspot.com/2010/11/there-is-no-why.html

Post with pictures of their father's hoard:
http://tetanusburger.blogspot.com/2010/09/yard-tour.html

Thalia on her father's unchanging nature
http://tetanusburger.blogspot.com/2010/09/gone-gone-gone.html

Thalia on her father's overbearing control: http://tetanusburger.blogspot.com/2010/09/gone-gone-gone.html

There are more, obviously, but I think that's a taste of what growing up in a hoarder's household might be like.
« Last Edit: September 05, 2015, 04:15:25 PM by LPeters »

FLA

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Re: Hoarding Making Firefighting Harder
« Reply #16 on: September 06, 2015, 07:25:05 PM »
FLA - Thank you for sharing your story, and thank you for having the heart to wade through that apartment to help that poor woman.

Any person that heard there was a woman wedged in her tub for a year, would've waded through that mess, I did what anyone else would do.  that was so long ago and I still think about her, I'm sure she's long gone. But ugh, her life was so awful, a year, naked in a tub, I cannot imagine dealing with that, living like that, she surely didn't want that but she was too mentally ill and medically to change her circumstances. And when she got out of her hell hole, because she was so mentally ill, she saw the clean place as hell.   

That was regular home care, not hospice, so when I called the doc to talk about her mental status and were there any meds that could help, he said, "I have not seen her in 18 mos, I cannot prescribe her meds, it was a stretch to order her home care."  He understood she could not get out of that tub but he had to reasonably protect his license. So I got it but it sucked.  In hospice, there is a doc who will do home visits and work with the patient's doc to get the right meds. This woman fell between the cracks. At that time, in that city, none of us could find a doc who practiced home medicine, there are a few now and thank God for them. 
« Last Edit: September 06, 2015, 07:27:36 PM by FLA »

Dicey

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Re: Hoarding Making Firefighting Harder
« Reply #17 on: September 06, 2015, 07:41:23 PM »
Wow! My grandmother was a hoarder, and her house burned down, original Tiffany Lamps and all. Her granddaughter, my cousin, is the same way. I most definitely have the tendencies, but also am fortunate to live in a beautiful house. I could never stand to clutter it up, but it takes regular, concerted effort to keep it tidy. And yeah, the garage is due for a good purging...

FLA

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Re: Hoarding Making Firefighting Harder
« Reply #18 on: September 06, 2015, 08:02:53 PM »
My mom is a hoarder. It is difficult on my dad and the rest of the family.  . In talking to her it is crazy to hear how she can rationalize it. She doesn't see it as a problem, and can get VERY angry and upset when the topic comes up. She's now in a spot in her life where she can't make it to Goodwill often due to health issues so the acquisition phase has slowed.
 But now the clothes represent who she is. Getting rid of one thing that doesn't even fit is an ordeal.

My mom is a hoarder, too, not too bad considering the ones I have met but we are in a similar spot.  She is too ill to get more but too ill to deal with what she has, and she says she cannot stand to die in her room the way it is. Paper is the big thing in her room, piles of paper everywhere, boxes of papers piled on top of each other.  And she does not even open the mail, my dad took over all bill paying and incoming mail at least ten years ago. We do not work well together on her hoarding because even though I know she is dying and cannot help her behavior and responses, it still makes me crazy to have her start crying about getting rid of utility statements over 20 yrs old for a house she no longer lives in.  When i try to point this out and repeat what she says her goal is, she ends up getting mad and throwing me out.

Inexpensive clothes are another problem.  She learned how to shop online on an iPad my brother bought her, so the other day she had me help her checkout her cart.  She had a bunch of nightgowns, makes sense since she is practically bed bound, but also ten new fall tops.  This was literally the day after she was evaluated for hospice. Clothes tumble out of her closet, she has not changed size, she literally only goes out to MD appts., comes home after 2 hrs and is back in nightgowns. I said something like, "huh, these look a lot like the ones you bought last year, do you really want that top in 5 colors? You're not going out much."  Kicked out of the room.  I should've shut my mouth and placed the order but I know when the stuff comes, she's going to be crying and upset that she has nowhere to put these things because there is just no room left.  She is so genuine about needing to resolve the hoarding in her bedroom because it upsets her and she "will not die in this mess", but I swear, to do it, she needs OCD meds or I need xanax!  Luckily, she can actually work on the hoarding with her sister and a few friends, it's been slow, painfully so, but she has let go of some papers. It's just best that she and I not work together on this part of her life.  I can do it with other people, IDK why I can't do it with her.

When we combined households into this new house 2 yrs ago, my parents had to rent the biggest dumpster they have and they filled it twice. But go down in our basement and it's hoarder hell.  I cannot figure out what could possibly have filled those two gigantic dumpsters and yet we still have all her crap.  I opened a box that said "Papers-IMPORTANT", assuming, whoa better open this one while I am here and before it gets buried again.  It was my Nana's papers, she died 27 yrs ago. I went through the papers, expecting to find stuff my mom may want, IDK, a death certificate or sentimental letters. Nope-huge box filled with my nana's bill statements since she moved into her house in 1950.  She was not a hoarder, she was the opposite, but she was a young widow, she probably thought keeping all these statements was somehow important. I mentioned it to my mom, explained I went through the statements, one by one and there is absolutely nothing else in this box, how about we just get rid of this one box?  She said, "you are a witch! you claim you loved your Nana but you are jumping to trash her belongings!" That is so off the rails, I just backed out of the room. 

it sucks, being a hoarder is such a miserable way to live (and to die) and I feel guilty that I do not work well with her.

FLA

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Re: Hoarding Making Firefighting Harder
« Reply #19 on: September 06, 2015, 08:05:37 PM »
So there's this blog I followó Tetanus Burgeró by two sisters over years as they clear out their father's hoard of junk cars (actual, entire cars, 78 at one point), antique Volkswagen parts and whatever the hell else he felt was worth something. They've gotten rid of 12 cars and literally 22.5 tons of scrap metal. It's a good blog, emotional and well-written. I recommend you go back and read from the beginning to the present, but here are some highlights:

Thank you for this! I think it might help even though, Thank God, my mom never thought of hoarding cars, lol.

Matt_D

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Re: Hoarding Making Firefighting Harder
« Reply #20 on: September 07, 2015, 09:55:40 AM »
This took off a bit while I wasn't paying attention!

For clarity: I did not mean to mock anyone who has a mental illness of any sort, because that's not nice or funny. I am sorry if I implied such.

I do think there's a huge distinction between the horrific conditions that FLA and Frankies Girl mention, and the entirety of the "25%" mentioned in the article. There are a lot of people who are not ill, but who have literally bought into the idea of "it's on sale so I should get it" and so on. Our culture has enabled and promoted that attitude, and I think that's what's driving a lot of the over-accumulation of possessions to the point where they actually detract from quality of life.

LPeters

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Re: Hoarding Making Firefighting Harder
« Reply #21 on: September 07, 2015, 04:58:51 PM »
So there's this blog I followó Tetanus Burgeró by two sisters over years as they clear out their father's hoard of junk cars (actual, entire cars, 78 at one point), antique Volkswagen parts and whatever the hell else he felt was worth something. They've gotten rid of 12 cars and literally 22.5 tons of scrap metal. It's a good blog, emotional and well-written. I recommend you go back and read from the beginning to the present, but here are some highlights:

Thank you for this! I think it might help even though, Thank God, my mom never thought of hoarding cars, lol.
Yeah, it probably will. Thalia doesn't flinch away from the worst of her father, I don't know how else to put it, but it's conforming somehow.

FLA

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Re: Hoarding Making Firefighting Harder
« Reply #22 on: September 07, 2015, 07:40:26 PM »
Yeah, it probably will. Thalia doesn't flinch away from the worst of her father, I don't know how else to put it, but it's conforming somehow.

IDK why I can totally deal with rats, feces-human and animal, bushwhacking through to find that lady in her tub and not have a problem with that.  I felt horrible for her and wanted her to have some quality of life and getting her out of that tub you would think is the best first step, getting her that teeny apt, you want to sigh, phew, she is in a safe place.  But instead she is devastated by the loss of every single piece of crap in that apt.  And I do get that, losing all her stuff in a fire as a hoarder is a true mental health crisis. 

So why, why can I not gather the patience to work well with my dying mom?  "I have to get organized, I can't live like this, we're gonna end up out on the street," with sobbing in front of your two kids fairly often may be one reason why, lol. Throughout my childhood I was worrying about being so poor we'd live on the streets.  She should never had said that all the time in front of us.  All of our lives she was constantly embarking on getting better, plus they had less money then so most of the problem was paper.  She took Clutter Classes, read all the books, no changes. She'd try, it never worked.

Now she is dying and I think this time she really means it, she wants to die in a peaceful room.  I think her sister and friends may be able to make it that way.  And the box upon box upon box of crap in the basement, I will either not tell her about getting rid of some or we will wait and do it after she dies.  On her tomb stone, I told her I am writing, "wait, that's an important Sears receipt from 1982!"

I HAVE TO DO BETTER!

pbkmaine

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Re: Hoarding Making Firefighting Harder
« Reply #23 on: September 07, 2015, 08:21:28 PM »
She won't even know you are getting rid of stuff, will she? So I would do whatever keeps you most sane. You can start to clean now or wait until she dies. Remember that you are not disrespecting her, just the insane part of her that clings to things she does not need. Why not say you are taking the stuff out of her room to store it in the basement and then sort through it at your leisure?

FLA

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Re: Hoarding Making Firefighting Harder
« Reply #24 on: September 07, 2015, 08:51:20 PM »
She won't even know you are getting rid of stuff, will she? So I would do whatever keeps you most sane. You can start to clean now or wait until she dies. Remember that you are not disrespecting her, just the insane part of her that clings to things she does not need. Why not say you are taking the stuff out of her room to store it in the basement and then sort through it at your leisure?

she's onto that, she seriously cannot let one piece of paper go unless she reads it herself.  I'm hoping her friends come through.  I think if the papers are done, I can help  with clothes and just stuff. The papers make me insane.  The only bad part of taking stuff out of the basement is the door is right next to her room.  I can't lift right now, so my dad had to do it and we had to make sure she was practically comatose, snuck by and filled his Forester. Before we took it to GoodWill, she saw it and now she hates us, both of us, it was bad! I told him to go right away (I can't drive right now).  The boxes are back in the damn basement, lol.

I think I should help after she is done with the papers, make her room a peaceful oasis.   And if I get better and can do stairs, start packing up stuff to donate later, when she is gone.  I do not want her last words to me be about how I didn't let her keep 4 salad spinners. No hurry on the basement, why get her upset?  How awesome would it be if she actually got to die in "the most beautiful bedroom I have ever had, I never dreamed we'd have this house."  So that room will get done come hell or high water. 

MrsPete

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Re: Hoarding Making Firefighting Harder
« Reply #25 on: September 18, 2015, 02:30:50 PM »
I see what mental illness can do to a life and I am so, so grateful for my reasonably firm grip on reality.
Yeah, I cannot imagine what it would be like to have your brain betray you. 

wenchsenior

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Re: Hoarding Making Firefighting Harder
« Reply #26 on: September 18, 2015, 05:51:08 PM »
So there's this blog I followó Tetanus Burgeró by two sisters over years as they clear out their father's hoard of junk cars (actual, entire cars, 78 at one point), antique Volkswagen parts and whatever the hell else he felt was worth something. They've gotten rid of 12 cars and literally 22.5 tons of scrap metal. It's a good blog, emotional and well-written. I recommend you go back and read from the beginning to the present, but here are some highlights:

Here's Thalia on what Christmas was like in their house, how stingy their father was, how he refused to properly feed his children or pay for heat to keep them warm:
http://tetanusburger.blogspot.com/2010/12/crappy-holidays.html

Thalia on how she doesn't understand how people can remember her father fondly when she grew up in that hell of a house, she wonders why no one ever called child services when it was so obvious (78 cars in their yard) that something wasn't right, how her father was not capable of empathizing with anyone's needs but his own:
http://tetanusburger.blogspot.com/2011/07/uncomfort.html

Thalia on her father's need for control over their household, even to the detriment of his family, even when the solution was simple and easy:
http://tetanusburger.blogspot.com/2010/06/purge.html

Thalia on the nature of hoarders, her father in particular:
http://tetanusburger.blogspot.com/2010/11/there-is-no-why.html

Post with pictures of their father's hoard:
http://tetanusburger.blogspot.com/2010/09/yard-tour.html

Thalia on her father's unchanging nature
http://tetanusburger.blogspot.com/2010/09/gone-gone-gone.html

Thalia on her father's overbearing control: http://tetanusburger.blogspot.com/2010/09/gone-gone-gone.html

There are more, obviously, but I think that's a taste of what growing up in a hoarder's household might be like.

My father also has OCPD and also Narcissistic Personality Disorder. THANK GOD his OCPD manifested in almost compulsive minimalism and neat-freakitude rather than hoarding. He does hoard a few things, mostly paperwork and bill-related (he's so proud that he has EVERY CANCELLED CHECK he's ever written), but boy am I happy his OCPD mostly manifested in other ways. Not an easy man to deal with, but at least his house was organized. So. Very. Organized.

FLA

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Re: Hoarding Making Firefighting Harder
« Reply #27 on: September 18, 2015, 08:31:50 PM »
 
[/quote]

My father also has OCPD and also Narcissistic Personality Disorder. THANK GOD his OCPD manifested in almost compulsive minimalism and neat-freakitude rather than hoarding. He does hoard a few things, mostly paperwork and bill-related (he's so proud that he has EVERY CANCELLED CHECK he's ever written), but boy am I happy his OCPD mostly manifested in other ways. Not an easy man to deal with, but at least his house was organized. So. Very. Organized.
[/quote]

My ex has OCD but despite being a medical professional, he does not believe there is such a thing as OCD or depression, he's all shades of fucked up. He had a desk that I soon learned do not touch unless you trace an outline on the desk of any item you dare to pick up because otherwise it will be in the "wrong" place when you put it back. Screaming, ranting diatribes, "the stapler goes on the far left at the top, not just the left side you effin' retard." Only one of his fine features, but he loved to clean! We could've lasted had he been a mute.  And lived with some other chick. 

wenchsenior

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Re: Hoarding Making Firefighting Harder
« Reply #28 on: September 19, 2015, 08:17:54 AM »
 

My father also has OCPD and also Narcissistic Personality Disorder. THANK GOD his OCPD manifested in almost compulsive minimalism and neat-freakitude rather than hoarding. He does hoard a few things, mostly paperwork and bill-related (he's so proud that he has EVERY CANCELLED CHECK he's ever written), but boy am I happy his OCPD mostly manifested in other ways. Not an easy man to deal with, but at least his house was organized. So. Very. Organized.

ETA: GAH, the quote tags got all screwed up in this post. The quote above is not attributed correctly...it was originally mine (wenchsenior), while quote below was FLA's.

Quote
My ex has OCD but despite being a medical professional, he does not believe there is such a thing as OCD or depression, he's all shades of fucked up. He had a desk that I soon learned do not touch unless you trace an outline on the desk of any item you dare to pick up because otherwise it will be in the "wrong" place when you put it back. Screaming, ranting diatribes, "the stapler goes on the far left at the top, not just the left side you effin' retard." Only one of his fine features, but he loved to clean! We could've lasted had he been a mute.  And lived with some other chick.

Just to be clear (and FLA might know this already), I was talking about Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder, which is actually a totally different disorder than Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (yeah, I know, they need rename one of them), though they do share some similarities.

http://www.psychforums.com/obsessive-compulsive-personality/topic36628.html

Usually OCPDers are more often hoarders than neat freaks, whereas OCD sometimes manifests as obsessive cleaning. Usually the 'not recognizing that there is a problem' is more of an OCPD tendency because personality disorders are intrinsic to the sufferers 'world view'...they think the rest of the world is screwed up, rather than themselves. Very hard to treat, much harder than OCD.

« Last Edit: September 19, 2015, 08:21:48 AM by wenchsenior »

irishbear99

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Re: Hoarding Making Firefighting Harder
« Reply #29 on: September 19, 2015, 09:22:09 AM »
Ironically, I'm pretty sure that my parents' house burning down when I was in elementary school is what set off my parents' hoarding. Until then, the house was relatively neat. Not magazine-shoot ready, but definitely tidy and organized. After the fire and rebuild, the hoarding got steadily worse. Every surface (tables, countertops, eventually chairs) had stuff - usually papers - on them. The dining room table had to be cleared off for dinner every night. Cleared off meaning the crap that migrated to the right of the table was pushed back to comingle with the crap that permanently occupied the left side of the table. There were rooms we just didn't use because there was so much stuff in them. My mother (who also exhibits traits of BPD) would scream at us for not helping her clean, claiming that the house looked the way it did because no one would help clean, but then wouldn't let us throw anything away. I was so glad when I left.

In another fit of irony, their house burned down again a couple of years ago. I have no doubt all that crap helped speed up the process. My siblings and I saw a silver lining in that the fire cleansed out all that crap, just the way a forest fire cleanses the land for new growth. Unfortunately,  there's already plenty of "new growth" in their new house. I can only hope, when they pass and my siblings and I have to sort everything, that it won't be as bad because this time they don't have a lifetime to re-accumulate crap.

LadyMaWhiskers

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Re: Hoarding Making Firefighting Harder
« Reply #30 on: September 19, 2015, 09:42:45 AM »
Ironically, I'm pretty sure that my parents' house burning down when I was in elementary school is what set off my parents' hoarding. Until then, the house was relatively neat. Not magazine-shoot ready, but definitely tidy and organized. After the fire and rebuild, the hoarding got steadily worse.

My mom is a hoarder too. I have read that loss and trauma contribute to the compulsion to accumulate and the resistance to release items, and that certainly seems to be true for her. She had at least a decade straight of trauma (critical ill child + seriously disabled child + divorce) but my grandmother (whose OCD was sub-clinical and tended toward neat/orderly) kept thing in the house on the rails. After the loss of her second husband, the house declined (my grandmother was getting pretty old by then, and then after her passing, all hell broke loose. Hoarding behavior definitely seems related to the sense of loss, like the fire in your parents' case.

I also think it's no coincidence that this thread has filled up so swiftly with tales of first degree relatives. Mustachianism is rather obsessive, or at the very least it attracts those who thrive on extremism.

I'm following, hoping (in vain, I realize) that someone will pipe up with a clever solution that helped their relative, or even themselves. My mom is on the verge of a major house-wide renovation, and it would be so great if the new world order could involve reasonable quantities of things stored accessibly and orderly. I want to believe!

FLA

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Re: Hoarding Making Firefighting Harder
« Reply #31 on: September 19, 2015, 11:39:15 AM »

Usually OCPDers are more often hoarders than neat freaks, whereas OCD sometimes manifests as obsessive cleaning. Usually the 'not recognizing that there is a problem' is more of an OCPD tendency because personality disorders are intrinsic to the sufferers 'world view'...they think the rest of the world is screwed up, rather than themselves. Very hard to treat, much harder than OCD.
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Actually, I did not know that, so first of all, I am very sorry about you trying to cope with your dad.  Based on your link, having a relationship with a parent like that must be close to impossible.  Did he ever recognize something was not quite right and get treatment?  Narcissistic PD is no picnic either.

wenchsenior

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Re: Hoarding Making Firefighting Harder
« Reply #32 on: September 19, 2015, 12:53:31 PM »
No worries. My Dad was actually awesome when I was a kid, which is when his life was fairly low stress. Later, with divorce, remarriage, other life issues, that the problems really manifested...I was an independent adult by then so it didn't affect me that much. Recently, there's been problems cropping up (for us kids, I mean) because of him aging.

A typical OCPDer would be ultra-perfectionist, goal-oriented, high achiever who is very concerned with rules and structure...so it's a disorder that can help the person thrive under certain conditions. The negative aspects manifest especially in stressful conditions that cause feelings of lack of control, and in strained interpersonal relationships.

To answer your question, no...my dad never realized on his own that his own personality was the problem. To him, the rest of the world is totally screwed up, his way is superior, and his default response to that was to be pissed off all the time. Most of the people around him recognized he was kind of nuts, and I think we accidentally ran across the official names for his issues maybe 10 years ago? Ironically, my father ended up being officially diagnosed a couple years ago, as a side effect of other health-related evaluations, and finally started therapy. But it has been a very mixed bag, because he keeps reverting to 'my view is the correct one' and rejecting the view of the therapist and the rest of the world. As I said, it's hard to treat.

Incidentally, I now recognize the signs instantly and know quite a few people that exhibit OCPD to varying degrees. Most are pretty functional, and all are high achievers. The severity is definitely on a continuum, and my dad's issues have gotten worse over time. If he'd had counseling intervention as a young man, I suspect he wouldn't be as bad off now.

MrsPete

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Re: Hoarding Making Firefighting Harder
« Reply #33 on: September 19, 2015, 01:11:50 PM »
Ironically, I'm pretty sure that my parents' house burning down when I was in elementary school is what set off my parents' hoarding. Until then, the house was relatively neat.
If you ever watch Hoarders, you'll note a pattern similar to your story:  Fairly often this behavior starts after a traumatic event that robs the individual of his or her "stuff".  For example, the kids were taken into foster care and had to leave all their things behind.  Or a parent destroyed all their stuff for some reason.  For the right person, this is a trigger to hold on tight to everything else. 

Sibley

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Re: Hoarding Making Firefighting Harder
« Reply #34 on: September 21, 2015, 12:46:30 PM »
I read that Tetnus Burgers blog (from the beginning). I'm very lucky that I don't have hoarding in my family (that I know of, so it won't be my problem at least). I am fascinated by hoarding though, simply because it is such a different mindset than mine. My parents have more stuff then they need, but are willing to get rid of unneeded objects. It's a function of living in the same place for 20 years.

Making Cookies

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Re: Hoarding Making Firefighting Harder
« Reply #35 on: September 21, 2015, 12:55:07 PM »
So there's this blog I followó Tetanus Burgeró by two sisters over years as they clear out their father's hoard of junk cars (actual, entire cars, 78 at one point), antique Volkswagen parts and whatever the hell else he felt was worth something. They've gotten rid of 12 cars and literally 22.5 tons of scrap metal. It's a good blog, emotional and well-written. I recommend you go back and read from the beginning to the present, but here are some highlights...

Absolutely WOW!!!

I am seriously going home to recycle a trailer load of crap that I keep tripping over. I'm not 1/1000th of this guy's behavior but the older I get the less I want the clutter. The fact that the father was also into aircooled VWs strikes very close to home. My car clutter is restricted to my small garage and a small shed but still...

Occasionally I figure it's not costing me anything to let those old records and the old books hang around but your link makes we want to throw out a carload towing another load in my little 4x7 ft trailer. Today.

Blonde Lawyer

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Re: Hoarding Making Firefighting Harder
« Reply #36 on: September 21, 2015, 03:33:51 PM »
She won't even know you are getting rid of stuff, will she? So I would do whatever keeps you most sane. You can start to clean now or wait until she dies. Remember that you are not disrespecting her, just the insane part of her that clings to things she does not need. Why not say you are taking the stuff out of her room to store it in the basement and then sort through it at your leisure?

she's onto that, she seriously cannot let one piece of paper go unless she reads it herself.  I'm hoping her friends come through.  I think if the papers are done, I can help  with clothes and just stuff. The papers make me insane.  The only bad part of taking stuff out of the basement is the door is right next to her room.  I can't lift right now, so my dad had to do it and we had to make sure she was practically comatose, snuck by and filled his Forester. Before we took it to GoodWill, she saw it and now she hates us, both of us, it was bad! I told him to go right away (I can't drive right now).  The boxes are back in the damn basement, lol.

I think I should help after she is done with the papers, make her room a peaceful oasis.   And if I get better and can do stairs, start packing up stuff to donate later, when she is gone.  I do not want her last words to me be about how I didn't let her keep 4 salad spinners. No hurry on the basement, why get her upset?  How awesome would it be if she actually got to die in "the most beautiful bedroom I have ever had, I never dreamed we'd have this house."  So that room will get done come hell or high water.

If your mom is terminally ill, I agree that you can wait to get rid of the stuff.  As for her room, is there anywhere else in the house you can move the stuff to? You could take pictures of it in the new spot to show her to prove that you aren't throwing the stuff out.  If she believes you that you are just relocating it and not throwing it out will she let you move the stuff out of the room?

Frankies Girl

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Re: Hoarding Making Firefighting Harder
« Reply #37 on: September 21, 2015, 03:45:33 PM »
She won't even know you are getting rid of stuff, will she? So I would do whatever keeps you most sane. You can start to clean now or wait until she dies. Remember that you are not disrespecting her, just the insane part of her that clings to things she does not need. Why not say you are taking the stuff out of her room to store it in the basement and then sort through it at your leisure?

she's onto that, she seriously cannot let one piece of paper go unless she reads it herself.  I'm hoping her friends come through.  I think if the papers are done, I can help  with clothes and just stuff. The papers make me insane.  The only bad part of taking stuff out of the basement is the door is right next to her room.  I can't lift right now, so my dad had to do it and we had to make sure she was practically comatose, snuck by and filled his Forester. Before we took it to GoodWill, she saw it and now she hates us, both of us, it was bad! I told him to go right away (I can't drive right now).  The boxes are back in the damn basement, lol.

I think I should help after she is done with the papers, make her room a peaceful oasis.   And if I get better and can do stairs, start packing up stuff to donate later, when she is gone.  I do not want her last words to me be about how I didn't let her keep 4 salad spinners. No hurry on the basement, why get her upset?  How awesome would it be if she actually got to die in "the most beautiful bedroom I have ever had, I never dreamed we'd have this house."  So that room will get done come hell or high water.

If your mom is terminally ill, I agree that you can wait to get rid of the stuff.  As for her room, is there anywhere else in the house you can move the stuff to? You could take pictures of it in the new spot to show her to prove that you aren't throwing the stuff out.  If she believes you that you are just relocating it and not throwing it out will she let you move the stuff out of the room?

I think that is a great suggestion.



I also pondered on what I'd do in the same situation, and if it was me, I'd have probably moved it all out of the room, and disposed of the trash and unwanted junk, and then lied about it being in storage. Not saying it is right to do this, but if it is so bad it is taking over the house and there are other people still trying to live there, I would feel like the lying is justified (whether it actually is or not is a total judgement call on my part tho). (I would not do a full scale cleanout tho if they were still there - too much to deal with and too many emotional traps that could wait)
« Last Edit: September 21, 2015, 03:48:01 PM by Frankies Girl »

Making Cookies

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Re: Hoarding Making Firefighting Harder
« Reply #38 on: September 21, 2015, 03:56:43 PM »
There was a house here in town where a hoarder lived. After they died or ??? - I don't know who controlled the house but I heard the city did a controlled burn on it. The house itself wasn't very good either.

FLA

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Re: Hoarding Making Firefighting Harder
« Reply #39 on: September 26, 2015, 12:04:11 PM »

If your mom is terminally ill, I agree that you can wait to get rid of the stuff.  As for her room, is there anywhere else in the house you can move the stuff to? You could take pictures of it in the new spot to show her to prove that you aren't throwing the stuff out.  If she believes you that you are just relocating it and not throwing it out will she let you move the stuff out of the room?
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pictures are a great idea, thank you!  and thank you to everyone else who replied.  I think she could live with most of her hoarder stuff being put in the basement.  Especially if it is neatly organized and we take a picture. Right now when her sister comes up to stay, they are still doing papers.  Those she would not let go to the basement. But my aunt is tough- 4 big black garbage bags have been filled and tossed. 

It will be easier when the papers are done, because I cannot deal with debating each one. But holding up an object and having her say yes to the basement, that I can do.

thanks all of you!

FLA

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Re: Hoarding Making Firefighting Harder
« Reply #40 on: September 26, 2015, 12:12:33 PM »
there is a wonderful book, Ghostly Men, true story about bachelor brothers and their out of control hoarding. They had a car in there somehow! Really great book and it is interesting to see hoarding set in a different age.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Collyer_brothers#Further_reading

Reynold

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Re: Hoarding Making Firefighting Harder
« Reply #41 on: September 30, 2015, 04:17:14 PM »

pictures are a great idea, thank you!  and thank you to everyone else who replied.  I think she could live with most of her hoarder stuff being put in the basement.  Especially if it is neatly organized and we take a picture. Right now when her sister comes up to stay, they are still doing papers.  Those she would not let go to the basement. But my aunt is tough- 4 big black garbage bags have been filled and tossed. 

It will be easier when the papers are done, because I cannot deal with debating each one. But holding up an object and having her say yes to the basement, that I can do.

As one who had a good friend of my wife who was a hoarder, I can sympathize.  Eventually the friend was forced out of her house when it was condemned by the town (only running water was a hose outside, in upstate NY, among other issues).  My wife cleaned out the house, with a bit of assistance from her son (never learned to drive, lives in another state).  Things like unearthing the attic and finding squirrel bones in a bag with dirty laundry and several thousand in US Savings Bonds, which had to be turned in before the friend could get government assistance.  She lived like a bag lady in her own house. . .

When you are showing things "to go to the basement", that is a good time to have a couple of bins, so you can set aside the small fraction of things which might be needed, such as income tax returns, property tax info, memento's someone might want, etc.  No use in sorting it all again in a few years.  They can all go in the basement, but, for example, use numbers for bins that are useful and letter codes for ones that will get pitched when the time comes.  I know my wife felt a lot less guilty when she was able to sort things with the input of her friend, but almost everything had to go out after she was evicted, so that was tough. 

My wife still had to find a lot of documents to get her friend Medicaid, SSI, and so on.  That may not be an issue for you, but it will be a lot easier to manage affairs if you can get a Power of Attorney signed.  Note; that won't work for Social Security, they want their own form done, or they won't talk to you. 

FLA

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Re: Hoarding Making Firefighting Harder
« Reply #42 on: September 30, 2015, 10:15:58 PM »
As one who had a good friend of my wife who was a hoarder, I can sympathize.  Eventually the friend was forced out of her house when it was condemned by the town (only running water was a hose outside, in upstate NY, among other issues).  My wife cleaned out the house, with a bit of assistance from her son (never learned to drive, lives in another state).  Things like unearthing the attic and finding squirrel bones in a bag with dirty laundry and several thousand in US Savings Bonds, which had to be turned in before the friend could get government assistance.  She lived like a bag lady in her own house. . .

When you are showing things "to go to the basement", that is a good time to have a couple of bins, so you can set aside the small fraction of things which might be needed, such as income tax returns, property tax info, memento's someone might want, etc.  No use in sorting it all again in a few years.  They can all go in the basement, but, for example, use numbers for bins that are useful and letter codes for ones that will get pitched when the time comes.  I know my wife felt a lot less guilty when she was able to sort things with the input of her friend, but almost everything had to go out after she was evicted, so that was tough. 

My wife still had to find a lot of documents to get her friend Medicaid, SSI, and so on.  That may not be an issue for you, but it will be a lot easier to manage affairs if you can get a Power of Attorney signed.  Note; that won't work for Social Security, they want their own form done, or they won't talk to you.

OMG, that's awful, she's lucky to have had help.

I made my parents go to an Elder Law attorney after a bad bout with my dad. She set up a trust so my brother and I owned the house but I didn't realize she put my mom in the trust. My dad had the final docs, I should've checked them and gotten my mom off the trust. I doubt that it will matter in the end, she wants to die at home, we will not put her in a nursing home, so no huge need with the trust, it's way too late.  All the necessary stuff is in place POA, etc. They are over income for Medicaid, thank God because it sounds like hell trying to get it.  I want them to do a MOLST, those are big in NY and better than just a proxy and DNR.  My dad has all the important stuff, down to every bill, computer passwords written out. So hopefully it shouldn't be too bad.  I have no idea how she accumulates all that paper with him doing everything. 

the other day, I found this huge, overflowing file on her bed.  It was all take out menus she had collecting since two houses ago, the 80s. Thinking, for once, this has to be an easy pile because she no longer lives where these places deliver and most of them were probably out of business.  I said, "hey, what's this? We have all the menus in the kitchen, remember? Do you want help going through this?" It took an hour and a half, if I said a place was no longer in business, I had to google it and show her.  OMG, her sister and her friends are awesome. Of course, in the end, there was not one menu that we could use.  Grab folder, distract her a little and went right out to the recycle bin.  Our first success!