I am a social worker, and the sister of a hoarder. This was mostly contained to his bedroom until my father died 1 year ago. Now my brother has claimed the house. My involvement is because this is the home of my 84 year old mother who has become frail.
On her behalf, this hoarding behaviour is quite upsetting. We are a large family, so we are able to go home often and look after her and the situation.
I began wondering, on my way there recently, what happens to family members, and their needs, who live in these homes. Books I have read emphasize what family members need to understand. And truly I get that. At least I think I do.
But family member's lives are changed by this sort of illness. And it seems, in it's own way, that the hoarder holds other family members emotionally hostage. This is the case in my mother's home.
At this point, I have come up with only two " solutions". I know that they are not really solutions.
1) See it for what it is, and don't expect it to be different.
2) I know this is not advised, but ...I have come up with the strategy to remove objects and boxes that are not noticeable or obvious, leaving the illusion of " stuff". I tried this out, with my sister. When my brother was not in the house. we removed only two carloads. They were not mentioned or missed during the rest of our stay. I know it is ineffective to directly discuss any alternatives with my brother.
Why is it that family members are helpless to have their homes pretty much lost to them ? I know that the reaction of the hoarder is hostile. I'm not saying that it is advised to deal with the hoarder directly. And I know that there is a risk in removing things quietly, " covertly" as I put it. But the needs of family members seem to often lost in the discussion.
I would really like to hear your thoughts on this.
I came to this site looking for resources for a client. I would not be advising his family to do anything and am encouraging him to work with a professional.