Hey everyone! My name is Heather. I'm 30 years old, married, and have two small children. I also work full-time in a very stressful field-- child protective services. My maternal grandmother has been a hoarder for as long as I can remember. She started hoarding in 1981, the year that my grandfather passed away suddenly and unexpectedly of a massive heart attack. She started hoarding by filling the home she had with my grandfather with "stuff". She never got rid of anything of my grandfather's or my mom's (who grew up in the house). She left that house in a mess and rented a duplex in 2003. So, her original home is sitting untouched and abandoned and is full of very emotional objects for her. Meanwhile, she's filled her duplex with so much stuff that the doors won't even open. She had the same landlord for years, until recently when he died and his daughter inherited the rental property. She forced her way Into my grandmother's duplex and was, of course, shocked at what she saw. The landlord has now given my grandmother until December 5th to be out of the duplex.
My grandmother has never, ever been able to get rid of anything, but I actually made progress with her today. She let me inside and she is definitely a level 3-4 hoarder. She doesn't even have paths to rooms anymore. I could only see the living room today and the room is just one huge pile of stuff. It's mostly clothes and suitcases, with some household stuff thrown in (small trash cans, canisters, etc). We were able to clear a car full of stuff, which I immediately took to the Goodwill donation station close to her house. However, there is so much work to be done. So much that I don't think it can be done in a month with just the two of us. The duplex also strongly smells of dead animals -- rodents, I'm guessing. I could see rat droppings everywhere.
She's signed a lease on a new place that we picked out together. It's a retirement community that cleans her room for her, does her laundry, is served 3 meals a day, and they handle taking her to doctors visits and anything else she may need. They go shopping once a week, have errand days, work out classes, and tons of other activities to keep her busy. I am concerned that she will begin to hoard this new place as well, although she really won't have an opportunity. Does anyone have any experience with a situation such as this? Can her hosting truly be turned off? She believes that it can. Can she be distracted from hoarding? She believes that she does it as a result of being lonely and needing something to occupy her time.
Sorry for the incredibly long post. Anything you can offer is very much appreciated! I just need to commiserate with someone that has been in any situation similar to mine.
Oh, by the way, I'm pretty much the only person available to help my grandmother. My mother has washed her hands of my grandmother a long time ago and refuses to help in any way. I do have my husband, who is wonderfully supportive, but he is usually on childcare duty as I would never allow our small kids in her home.