Aug. 14, 2011, 02:17 AM
Watching Hoarders Buried Alive - Anyone have first hand experience?
This show is so frightening. Makes me wonder how you would know what signs to look for that folks in your family are starting hoarding tendencies?
I cannot begin to imagine what it might be like to have one in the immediate family.
And it makes me want to go fill up the dumpster
There are friends and faces that may be forgotten, but there are horses that never will be. - Andy Adams
Aug. 14, 2011, 02:27 AM
when people have a hard time parting with stuff.
I suppose you only notice when it's obvious, unless you don't see the house or whatever often.
By the time you can't walk through the room or forgot if there is a rug on the floor, you are well into the problem.
I guess 'collectors' could be at risk...and naturally packrats.
I hope I am not...I actually started throwing stuff out....but I need to toss so much more!
Aug. 14, 2011, 03:00 AM
I have some good friends who seem like hoarders.
From the outside, and the way I got to know them, you wouldn't know what the inside of their house looked like. Some "issues" with their kids might let you know that the family wasn't a-ok. But the kids got lots of schools/treatment so even if you knew this, you might not expect hoarding as well.
Their house was nothing like I have ever seen. They just walked around in it. No shame about having me in for a visit. We hung out there and no mention of things being amiss on my part. I wonder what they thought about the contrast between the way their house looked and other peoples' do. Other things made me think they thought this was normal: They talked about having to clean parts of their house-- and I could never see the difference. They did clean out sometimes and to an extent, using a dumpster.
Hoarding for these people wasn't about keeping garbage, though the place was amazingly dirty. They did have multiples of possessions but the talk around that was about "We needed X version exactly" or "That other one was broken" (and never thrown out), or "We stocked up because it was a good deal."
Given the way my friends spoke about their place and lived in it without change or an attempt to hide it, I'd have a hard time calling them hoarders. Maybe that's a label that can only be attached by outsiders?
The armchair saddler
Aug. 14, 2011, 07:04 AM
I'm a semi hoarder, I'm bad, but not as bad as the people on the show.
My mother had OCD when I was a kid and she kept the house unnaturally (IMO) clean and tidy. Any room in the house was only to have the carpet, curtains, and appropriate furniture and nothing else. No magazines or newspapers or books lying on tables, no shoes, bags, jackets anywhere but in the cupboard under the stairs. If you ate or drank anything you'd to do so in the kitchen/dining room, and immediately wash and dry the plate/cup/glass and anything else you'd used and put them back in the appropriate cupboard.
About 15 years ago my father had a massive heart attack, he survived, but was "terminally ill" afterwards (he didn't actually pass away until 2 years ago, and that wasn't from a heart problem) I moved in with my parents (I was unemployed at the time) and due to mother's "cleanliness" regime I was confined to one room in the house - you try fitting your stuff into one room! That room looked like the houses you see, there was a path from the door to the bed, and from the bed to the en-suite bathroom, the rest of the floor space was taken up with my stuff, piled in boxes and anything else I could find.
We eventually moved into a newer house that had two floors, and I had the upper floor as an apartment, but right after we moved in I hurt my back (sacro-illiac) and I never unpacked properly, and somehow or other I never did unpack, things were taken out of boxes as needed, used and put anywhere. After about 4 years my back 'righted' itself, but the house is in such a mess I can't look at it, much less try to tidy. Plus my back will 'go' on a whim at any time, and cleaning and tidying seem to be things that aggravate it ... I also developed serious Depression during the 4 years that I was incapacitated and in severe pain. So I have that to contend with as well...
I basically gave up trying. I just leave things as they are - it doesn't help that this "modern" house was built in such a way that there's little or no storage space, and it's impossible to buy anything in a furniture shop that would fit anywhere, and bespoke furniture costs a fortune here! The kitchen is particularly bad, the cupboards in there are tiny, we had 9 cupboards in the old kitchen and there are 8 in this kitchen, I didn't empty 3 cupboards in the old house (due to the new owner suddenly deciding he needed the keys now), and the cupboards in the new house are so tiny I couldn't fit 6 cupboards worth of dishware, pots'n'pans and utensils into 8 cupboards!
There is a laundry room - which is 4ft x 4ft and only big enough to fit a washer and dryer and nothing else. There is nowhere to put laundry, so I use the dining room - which is now full of clothes in various stages of drying, ironing, and being folded...
I have had "purges" when I/we moved house, but somehow I still end up with more stuff than I have room for. I want to convert a small (6ftx5.5ft) [upstairs] room into a walk-in wardrobe/dressing room (with a space in the corner for all my tack/rugs etc) which would allow me to store my clothes somewhere other than on the floor/under the bed (in those vacuum bags) - the wardrobe that is in the bedroom is useless, funky sized shelves where you have to fold things in 3 to fit them on the shelf, then you can only put two or three things to a shelf, and only 5 shelves, and I have more than a dozen tops and jumpers! So most of my stuff is on hangers on a rail, which is buckling under the strain!
The other bedroom was being used as a library/computer/tack room and has disappeared under the piles of books, DVDs, rugs and tack that I've amassed.
Where in this wide world can man find nobility without pride, friendship without envy, or beauty without vanity? - The horse. (R.Duncan)
Aug. 14, 2011, 08:01 AM
I haven't seen the show (network only @ 2 Dogs farm), but a very dear friend has become a hoarder over the last 15 years.
She has an upscale condo - 1BR - and in the past 10 years I visit infrequently as being indoors makes me physically uneasy.
There literally is not a surface visible on any piece of furniture or table/flat surface in any room - kitchen & bath included.
The scary part is her husband lives there too and a part of the hoard is his - his golf magazines stacked on the floor - but his closet is anally neat.
Hers - a good-sized walkin - looks like a clothing store exploded.
Her hoard is a mix of "clean" trash (unopened mail, magazines, etc) and shopping bags full of stuff she bought and never took out of the bag.
She rents 3 storage lockers in the bldg & all are packed to the ceiling.
Recently they had to move for a month as an AC unit had leaked and ruined the flooring. Can you imagine they were unaware of the leak until the building came to inspect.
Movers packed 150 boxes. All 150 came back and most are still standing unpacked.
She is aware of the problem but cannot seem to get it resolved.
Twice now she has hired people to de-clutter, but she insists on being there so nothing gets thrown out and eventually the clutter creeps back onto whatever area did manage to get uncovered and straightened out.
This is not a stupid person, until she retired she held a high-pressure job in marketing.
Of course her office, when I visited, was pretty messy too.
Hoarding is a real mental issue and her place has frightened me enough so I make an effort to get rid of things & not keep "stuff" that is not in use.
*friend of bar.ka*RIP all my lovely boys, gone too soon:
Steppin' Out 1988-2004
Hey Vern! 1982-2009
Cash's Bay Threat 1994-2009
Aug. 14, 2011, 09:19 AM
I dated a guy who was a hoarder - this was probably fifteen years ago, so I didn't know it had a name.
He and I went out for ages before he ever invited me over. When I went into his apt, I saw why - there were ceiling-high towers of newspapers, neatly stacked, forming corridors inside. Every surface was stacked with newspaper - floors, counters, shelves. There was only one stove eye uncovered!
I broke it off. At the time, I was a two pack a day smoker - together he and I were a five alarm fire waiting to happen!
But he was incredibly neat, in a weird way. Everything had to be in its place and scrupulously clean.
Of course, I asked him what was up with all the newspapers. He told me each of them contained an article he wanted to save, and he hadn't got around to clipping them out yet.
I've never seen the show either. But I'm guessing it has people like this guy on?
Aug. 14, 2011, 09:19 AM
I've watched the show a few times - kind of like watching a car wreck. I would guess that keeping stuff moves into the "hoarding" category when the stuff affects a person's normal functioning - so when you cant move around the house or there are health hazards, or the person is using their money for hoarding instead of paying bills. I guess its like how a person can have a lot of animals but they enjoy them, keep them clean and well cared for, and can reasonably afford them as opposed to an animal hoarder who cannot do all those things.
My grandmother & stepgrandfather were borderline hoarders. Most of the main living area was only somewhat cluttered. But the attic was stuffed with things my grandmother collected - often from tag sales - like cheap ceramic figurines and lots of odd curtains. The basement and garage were full of lumber and broken machinery that he was "going to do something with". And I mean these areas were totally filled to the top!
Having to clean out that house when they left inspired my mom to purge a lot of stuff from my parents' house. Of course some of this involved getting me to take it! After she died, my dad showed more hoarding tendencies. With his Alzheimers progressing he was afraid to lose anything. I would visit and there would be piles of mail and piles of plastic bags, etc, etc. It was a battle to get to throw anyting out, even old food. Happily, we convinced him to go to assisted living before things got too bad. It is amazing tho, when you clean out a house to see how much "stuff" there is. Dad did woodworking so now I have lots of little wooden painted ornaments stored in my hourse...
Aug. 14, 2011, 09:49 AM
My brother and mom are definite pack rats. I make a concerted effort to clean house every once in a while. I will have a day where I will try on clothes and throw out what does not fit or I never liked.
My brother collects things, like a fire hydrant....then a fire hose to go with it. He bought a professional welding kit (he did take one year of welding classes after that, but still). He has his wife to yell at him and hence does not have TO much stuff.
My mom trolls the garage sales for things she thinks we want. When I was engaged she bought an antique changing table....I'm not even married yet and who said anything about kids? No, when I broke up with my fiance, she did NOT get rid of it.
She also bought flatware for my future wedding....when I was about 18 and not even dating seriously. My grandma was similar, so there has to be a certain amount of genetics involved. My brother and I yell at mom when we can, but she is her own person and does not always like to listen to reason.
Aug. 14, 2011, 10:12 AM
Originally Posted by Ajierene
My mom does this too, and if she's not a hoarder, she's pretty borderline. I had to move out of her house because I couldn't handle it anymore. She's stopped buying things for my future whatever, but she still does pick up stuff for me here and there, which is fine. She actually loves vintage children's things like changing tables, prams, high chairs, and collects those :-\ She loved babies and kids at a very young age, so this kind of stuff "brings her back." She also runs an ebay business with cross-stitch patterns, so she's got a LOT of those. Everywhere. She's moving soon, and my grandma will be living with her part-time, so she's making a concerted effort to get rid of excess stuff and throw away anything that's useless, broken, ruined, etc. She's got a storage unit right now and will probably have to get another unit, but once she's all settled in the new place (WITH LESS STUFF!!) we are going to go through the storage units and have a big yard sale type thing. I'm glad my grandma will be living with her some of the time, because then she won't be able to "collect" so much stuff.
I don't like watching the Hoarders shows because it reminds me of my life at her house
Aug. 14, 2011, 02:42 PM
I've watched a few of the hoarder episodes, and read Matt Paxton's book (he's one of the extreme cleaners on Hoarders A&E) and there are 5 stages of hoarding. The first stage you can still walk around, but there are piles of stuff, and it's clearly not normal clutter. Stage five is the group we see on tv, with the floor to ceiling junk (clean or not) and usually have structural problems with the house since no one can get inside to fix things, or to even find out there are leaks or vermin infestations. There is a hereditary factor with some, but I'm wondering if it's just that some people raised by hoarders will immitate them, and some will go the opposite direction and never have clutter. Many people seem to have only one partner with this, and it only is allowed to get out of control when the other partner leaves or dies. Very few people really change from real hoarding, and many on the shows have had professional clean ups done repeatedly. Some hoarders have even had previous houses condemned and demolished and started hoarding again. They even had a restaurant owner on Restaurant Impossible that hoarded at the restaurant, had the place cleaned up and remodeled and went back to hoarding apparently with the restaurant closed down. I think someone is definitely a hoarder when they try to hide it or won't let people in to see the stuff.
They estimate that about 1 in 25 homes are hoarder homes, and I bet if you think about it that you've seen many hoarders during your life. A woman next to my great aunt and uncle's house, the people down the street when I was a kid, and two people that I worked with years ago were definitely this. The part that bothers me is the risk to neighbors, and the people's children and animals that are suffering. Almost all are fire hazards, and in the case of condos, townhouses, or urban houses close together the risk is enormous. The hoard endangers first responders who will have to try to rescue people from inside the hoard, and many people have died in fires or been crushed by their own hoards. I feel sorry for people who live like this, but the ones who raise children and animals in this disgust me. Children who suffer from respiratory diseases or allergies, and who never know what a hygienic, clean house is like with wholesome food are suffering, and in some cases their lives are endangered. The effects of being raised in these conditions can ruin lives for children and relatives of these people. And the vermin that live in these places are hideous health risks to neighbors and residents. Some people featured on these shows are very cruel to the poor animals they have in captivity too (I can't call it anything but that either). One woman on the TLC Hoarders show was convicted of cruelty, and prohibited from owning animals for a certain amount of time (Hanna in Indiana) and she may be the worst they've shown, but the rest of the hoarders are not good to their children or pets. I feel the sorriest for the children, and animals.
You can't fix stupid-Ron White
Aug. 14, 2011, 02:52 PM
I've never known a hoarder personally, of if I have I've never seen their house and don't know it. My brother is a firefighter, and he's told me some stories about houses he's had to enter for emergencies. When the house is so cluttered there's barely room to walk it makes it extremely dangerous for emergency responders who are trying to help someone.
I've watched the Hoarders show on TV and it's kind of disturbing. I saw the episode (there may be more than one like this, not sure) where they kept finding dead cats in the house. The woman who lived there had no idea.
Aug. 14, 2011, 02:58 PM
DH and I worked for and lived with a hoarder for a few months before we got married. She was mostly a hoarder of animals... after that horrid experience, I educated myself tons about hoarder. There's a website called Children of Hoarders that is sad and eye-opening.
It is thought to be a form of OCD - the hoarder has a compulsion to collect stuff that he/she cannot part with.
If I ever go back to work in academia, I want to get work with a psych. department to study hoarding (me from an animal welfare perspective, them from the human side). If we stay where we're at a few more years, I may go back to school and get a MS and PhD in Psychology just so I can study hoarding. It is fascinating and sad.
I think the big sign is an inability to part with stuff - even things that the rest of us consider trash (like empty plastic bags, paper, the containers that electronics come in).
Aug. 14, 2011, 03:15 PM
Aug. 14, 2011, 03:18 PM
I watch the A and E version on streaming video. My DH and I aren't tidy people. I've sort of taught myself to be tidy over time, for an example I always went to the trash can at the post office and dumped all the junk mail before I got home. The Flylady system helped a LOT.
DH can't do that (dumping the junk mail) because it might be important and he can't tell the difference. So it comes home in a plastic bag and gets set near his chair. Catalogs, friends who are moving "gifting" us stuff, broken stuff that could be good if we just fixed it (which leads to another pet peeve of mine - not being able to find household goods that can survive the 55 years that our old Sunbeam toaster lasted) I think I have one spray nozzle for the hose that works and three that don't. Guess which ones I can find?
Important Papers - we have an entire wall in the shop lined with business and tax records that have to be kept "indefinitely". I have a huge pile of paper on the floor waiting to be shredded - all in the name of security from identity theft. I have a mutual fund and more than one bank account and that creates yet more stuff to handle - just in the last half hour I went through paperwork to be reimbursed for medical expenses - ten receipts, copies of ten receipts, copies of the claim forms, mail off the copies and file the rest, and then shred everything else and try to figure out what to do with that - there was just less stuff when I was young and poor.
Courageous Weenie Eventer Wannabe
Aug. 14, 2011, 03:32 PM
Originally Posted by JanM
I truly never really thought Hanna was suffering from mental illness of any kind. She was just a cruel, nasty, vile specimen of homosapiens, and I was glad she got nailed by the law. My sympathies reside entirely with her family and those poor animals she treated so badly.
Aug. 14, 2011, 04:11 PM
My grandmother was a hoarder. It took my mom 5 years to empty out grandma's house after she died.
My dad is a serious packrat (well on his way to hoarding), and I'm just a terrible housekeeper though I have the tendencies.
Honestly, it scares me.....
Aug. 14, 2011, 04:27 PM
This is a very typical symptom of Alzheimers. Sometimes elderly people do a great job hiding their confusion in its early stages, but the accumulation of stuff can be a give away before other problems make their disease obvious. We missed it with my mom and should have intervened earlier than we did, but just didn't get the dots connected.
Originally Posted by MsM
My parents, especially my father was a borderline/mid grade hoarder. I grew up in a single story ranch house with a full basement. The living area upstairs was cluttered but pretty normal, downstairs my dad's office, garage and storage area was stacked to the ceiling with junk. He never threw anything away including every school paper and every letter he ever wrote. We always chalked it up to being a child in the Depression.
I do think some of it's genetic. My husband and I just built a house with 3000+ sq. feet of full basement (rare around here.) The family joke is that I'm not allowed to put anything in it without his permission because he's seen my parents basement and my brothers' basements and he's convinced it genetic!
I struggle a little bit, but honestly I think it's laziness more than anything. Besides shouldn't I go through all the household receipts my father kept from the 4 years of his first marriage (1941-1945) before I throw them out? And who has time to do that!?
Aug. 14, 2011, 05:53 PM
Mara-I'm not sure I've ever loathed someone I haven't met as much as Hanna and her nasty group of relatives. How someone can treat animals the way she did is just beyond my comprehension, and I bet if the authorities don't watch her she's probably doing it again already.
If anyone ends up inheriting (literally inheriting) this problem of a hoarder house to clean out then the executor of the estate can hire the junk companies (For example 1-800 Got Junk is about $1,000 a day per truck depending on how much stuff has to be dumped in haz mat landfills) that will clean out everything, and even remove rugs and such. It's not a job for amateurs, since sometimes the house may be structurally unsound, or there could be vermin or hazardous substances inside the hoard piles. And you do have to worry about hurting yourself while removing all of this junk. And it is junk-there is very little chance that anything valuable or uncontaminated is in the junk, so just get rid of everything at once. If you don't know it works, or have room for stuff, then just get rid of it.
The people on the show that choose to keep dirty fast food drink cups over cleaning up and getting their kids back, or have a severly asthmatic child in an environment that could cause a fatal attack just make me want to scream. I can't believe anyone can go on a tv show like this and think that codes enforcement and the child welfare people won't get a ton of calls the day after their show airs. And the neighbors that see the junk trucks pull up and then figure out why they have a vermin and odor problems coming from the next door neighbors must be totally enraged.
I am also confused by the number of houses that apparently are rentals. If one was my property I would have the people evicted, and then sue for damages. Many times they apparently give the renter "one more chance" because they know they'll have to raze the place instead. And the woman from the first season who moved out of the hoard house and in with her son and kids in his apartment? She started hoarding there, and his kids were taken away. I don't think his kids were given back until he tossed mom out, cleaned up, and then fixed the damage she had done. (the hoarder was on a follow up show). And the number of people who go right back to hoarding shows that forced clean up is not effective.
There was a documentary a few years ago about a hoarder who moved out for a while (maybe they were commited for a while? I don't really remember) and the relatives cleaned up, and when the hoarder returned they had a major psychotic break, was rehospitalized and I think died eventually.
You can't fix stupid-Ron White
Aug. 14, 2011, 05:58 PM
I don't know if Hanna was suffering from anything diagnosable or if she was just nasty, poorly socialized and frankly stupid, but I don't believe her animal abuse had anything to do with hoarding either. The hoarders typically care about the animals, they just don't realize their "caring" is causing the problems - Hanna wanted the poor ducks in those cages because she didn't want to be hunting for their eggs around her property.
Originally Posted by Mara
That daughter who came and tried to attack the crew was a piece of work too.
Aug. 14, 2011, 06:17 PM
If you rent out a house you own, it can take years to evict the tenent despite any expired leases or unpaid rent and utilities...half of them won't even let you in to do a routine inspection at lease renewal time.
IMO it goes alot deeper then hoarding, like those really obese people who gain it all back plus 50 or turn into chain smoking alcoholics.
I hate to say it but I can be a bit of a pack rat, so was Mom. I do have a few small boxes in the garage from when I moved...12 years ago. But I not only have a path to the trash can, I can park the car in there so it's pretty far down the list. Got some stuff in the closets I need to weed thru...but they are fairly neat and function as closets. Hard to get to that stuff.
I watch those shows before I go buy anything and make a Goodwill stop with the old before I bring in anything new. It's a good habit to get into, be surprised how much stuff you have when you really look...I ended up with 3 coffee makers, all functional. But gave them away as soon as I discovered it.
Maybe most of us see a little something of ourselves in such extreme behavior. That's probably a good thing to keep us from going too far down that path.
When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.
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