Growing into Me with Bipolar


Ok, so I went to see my only family (other than my kids) for the month of June.  They are truly my second cousins, but they raised my dad from a young child, so they are really more like parents or grandparents.  They are pretty elderly now, and  I was worried that my kids and I might not get another chance for all of us to see them again.  I was also hoping we could help them out with things that might need done around the house and such.

Well, when we got there, we discovered that in the last 3 years, they have become full-fledged hoarders.  The front rooms, (dinette, kitchen, defunct dining room and living room) were stacked waist high along all the edges, leaving open spots for the stove and sink, and a path to each of the 2 bathrooms.  The hall, which runs the full length of the house, was filled with stuff and was impassable.  The back rooms (the 4 bedrooms) were so filled with stuff that all but one was impossible to even open the door more than a few inches.  That one, the one that opened enough to enter it, was filled all along the edges but did have a path carved out to the bed, but the bed itself was covered in bags and bags and bags of stuff as well.  And it wasn’t just the piles of bags and loose items and junk and trash all mixed in everywhere, it was the filth.  The dirt, the nastiness, the dust that was so deep you could use it as quilt batting.

We were told we would have to either sleep in the recliner chairs or use the mobile home (trailer) in the back yard, which used to be one of the sisters’ homes when her husband was still alive.  We opted to use the trailer, as it had a proper bed and 2 full recliners.  Unfortunately, it didn’t have heat, gas (no stove), or water.  Of course, we kept being told we would get water the next day, and the next, and the next….so, that led to us using the toilet more than we would have, and let’s just say, it was not pleasant.  It did give us a brief respite from the sisters, tho, which was needed by the end of each day.  Even had we stayed in the house, we would not have been allowed to use the shower (it too was full of boxes and bags and dust more than half an inch thick).  So, we ended up using the spigot outside the back of the house and a bucket to have our showers.  This meant soaking whatever we were wearing, and soaping up and rinsing and same with hair and shaving…then, to bring everything back to the trailer and change into dry things again.  Let’s just say, it was quite a production.

About a week after we arrived, one of the sisters was told she needed to be admitted to the hospital for urgent diuresing;  that is, her legs were so swollen they were raw and dripping fluid, and fluid was backing up into her abdomen causing her blood pressure to be quite high (especially considering she has had a pacemaker put in a few years ago) and leading to concerns that she may develop fluid in her lungs.  These are all potentially deadly or at least serious conditions.  She finally agreed to go, and was getting better (since she was actually taking her meds and spending time with her legs up and sleeping in a bed at night, which she refuses to do when at home).

Her sister, staying home alone, was very upset.  We decided to sleep on the floor and recliner in the house after all to keep her company and visit with her.  Plus take her to visit at the hospital, and do errands.  As the days went on to about a week, sister B started becoming more and more confused, but I was unable to reorient her.  By the end of the month, we had to leave as I had bills to pay, my son had work scheduled, etc.  But we knew sister A would be getting out of the hospital in 2-3 days, so we thought with their 2 main helper/friends, that sister B would be ok til then.

So, we went on home.  Once home, I couldn’t stand the thought of them living like that, in those conditions.  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to force them to move, I just want their home clean and sanitary and safe, in short, habitable.  And that’s when it really hit the fan.

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Comments on: "Don’t Know What to Do, Pt. 1" (4)

  1. Wow. It sounds like you had your work cut out and the visit was stressful. Thats hard on you all. I hope you are ok now. XXX

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    • LOL, ya-I sure did have my work cut out for me. But, this was only the beginning. It gets better (by that I mean ‘worse’) after I got home.

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  2. I’m surprised. I guess I thought hoarders were always hoarders, but that doesn’t make sense once I think about it. I have no idea what, if anything, you can do about itl

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    • Well, I guess they probably always were, but they were more able to hide it and keep it ‘reasonably’ under control to the outside eye. All my life one of the four bedrooms was ‘off limits’, because it was even then so full of stuff you couldn’t enter. I think that because they are less mobile things have just gotten out of hand and they can’t hide it or control it anymore. So now it is just everywhere. It is strange because their parents were not like this. So I don’t know where they developed this. Also the dirtiness and filth-they have always been extremely clean and hygienic, until now when the hoarding has taken over. The hoarding is even extending to food now, food they have canned or preserved etc., and still have–from the ’80’s onward. Juices, pie crusts, boxes of chocolate, candy bars, etc. They now have 5 refrigerators and 2 freezers. They used to only have 5 (lol!).

      what I want is for them to understand (from the Area Agency on Aging) that to stay in their home, they need to get it cleaned out and cleaned up and to follow doctor’s orders for meds and elevating legs etc. and to allow Home Health Aides to come in and help them. If they don’t, I will have to contact Adult Protective Services (APS) to do a self-neglect and habitability check. If it is not ‘habitable’, or if they are self-neglecting, then APS will remove them to a safe place. I can also ask the police to do the same thing, but it would be more abrupt and traumatic if they did the removal. Removal from their home is not my goal; a safe, sanitary, healthy environment is. But if they can’t keep it that way, and won’t accept help, then they will have to be moved. So far, they are refusing to let anyone in the house except for 2 helper/friends.

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