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EDITORIAL RESPONSES  /I Hoard It On The GrapevineEditorial List

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Clever Caregiver Editorial Responses - Page 2
These are just some of the many responses we received from our Editorial of 06/06/07 - I Hoard it On the Grapevine

Hi Gary, The story of hoarding sounds so familiar.  My mom/grandparents went through the same things.  My grandparents grew up during the Depression and always had the feeling they were going to run out of something or something might not be available, so they hoarded everything, even broken things.  My mom finally convinced both of them that they needed money hoarded more than they needed the stuff. (If they had money, they could buy newer and better if they needed it.)  She sold TONS of stuff on e-Bay every week and would take money to them every week to stash away.  This went on for well over a year. Mom probably sold half their belongings, some of them antiques, because they didn’t need them.  They liked the idea of having money to spend when they wanted to on grandkids, etc. because their fixed income didn’t allow that.  So they have continued to give her a few more things here and there to sell since the initial “sell-off”.  There were some items that grandkids wanted and we’d pay a few dollars for it to help them and at the same time hold on to some sentimental things of our grandparents.  It was a win-win situation and continues to work for them…


Dad lived through the depression (he passed away in 1991), and I’ve come to understand that such severe circumstances can be a factor in hoarding.  Mom (77 w/Alzheimer’s) never really cared much about cleaning, and has lived in her home since 1959.  That’s a lot of time to accumulate things.  

The basement had recurring flooding issues for over 10 years prior to these photos.  During these years, I would regularly suggest to my brother and sister that we clear the “stuff” out of Mom’s house.  Verbal agreements were all I ever got. 

Well, eventually Mom got diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, and that diagnoses inspired me to take more definitive action.  I found a mold test kit in a local home improvement store and tested the air in her basement.  It came back with 3 different types of dangerous mold.  Even this report didn’t prompt my siblings to help.  The following month, Mom developed pneumonia.  She was in the hospital for 3 days. 

At this point, I took pictures with the intent to show them to Adult Protective Services unless drastic action was taken within the family.  After Mom’s hospital stay, I brought her to my house, and I wouldn’t allow her to go home until it was cleared out.  My sister boxed everything on the main level, but completely stopped when my brother (who has hoarding issues of his own – I guess he got the gene) said he wanted to “go through” the things in the basement.  I ended up finding a service called Good Riddance Junk that brought a dumpster and manpower and charged $300 a load.  My threat of using this service (which I followed through on) inspired brother to action, but only because of a deadline.  Mom was with me for four months until I was satisfied that the basement was cleared, disinfected (Serve Pro), and the cause of the flooding repaired (homeowner’s insurance).  

Taking charge as I have done has caused issues with my siblings (no surprise there), but that would be another, longer story.

Through a suggestion from the owner of the company that disinfected Mom’s basement, I contacted her city’s Department of Community Development.  They manage programs to assist low-income families with home repair.  The program she qualified for provides structural updates for a federally-funded, interest-free loan to be paid in full whenever the house is sold.  She has no monthly payments that cut into her budget.  This program has provided her with new windows, siding, doors, gutters, and work will soon begin for her new driveway and landings to her front and rear doors.

Amazingly, the local plumbing association contacted the city around the same time that I originally did.  The plumbers were looking for a needy local resident for their annual home makeover project, and they selected my Mom!  They replaced her old galvanized pipes with copper tubing and updated her fixtures (sinks, toilet, bathroom cabinets, and even installed safety bars for the toilet and bathtub)!  They also enlisted the help of other local contractors, which resulted in Mom’s roof and landscaping being completely redone – FOR FREE!!!!

Future projects include a thorough cleaning, painting, and updating electrical fixtures.  My goal is to help Mom live at home as long as is safely possible for her. 

The time, travel, phone calls, letters, blood, sweat and tears, and even the stress with my siblings have all been worth it – for Mom’s sake (HER health and safety being my main concern). 

The morale of my story:  Call your local, county, and state agencies to find out what’s available to help your loved one.  Don’t let fear (aka: my sister) or procrastination (aka: my brother) stop you.  Don’t let negative influences stop you.  Dive in, find out what you can do and get it done.  The serenity that comes to you after completing a project for your loved one is tremendous.  As for me, I sleep with a clear conscience because I know I’ve done the right thing for Mom. 

Love & prayers,

D. L.


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