Can Hoarding Be Cured?

Can Hoarding Be Cured? - Topix#

I was actually thinking about this question myself last week, wondering if there really is a cure for compulsive hoarding. It appears that even the professionals admit that most of those affected who GET treatment will return to the disorder, and the bigger issue is that most hoarders never recognize or admit that they have a problem and seek help. In fact, I don't have statistics on this (but I will look for them) I would bet that even those hoarders who are forced by law enforcement (CPS, APS, or Code Enforcement) actually revert to their ways once they have saved their homes.

As sad as hoarding is, the thought that there seems to be no long-lasting treatment to keep a hoarder from returning to their ways is simply devastating to the families and friends! What is the point in attempting to get intervention if there is likely to be no lasting change or result? Should family members walk away? Do friends ignore the safety and health issues? Do neighbors ignore the dropping home values around them?

I recently shared with an online forum group that although my mother has refused treatment (not in a whiny, kicking and screaming sort of way like she used to do but in a simple disinterest in making it happen for herself although there is no cost to her and transportation--i.e. I would take her gladly--is available). However, I also mentioned that my mother has not really begun hoarding again. I stopped short of saying that she was cured because like the mental health professional in this clip, I don't believe that there is a cure.

My mother allows herself to be managed. By that, I mean that someone is in her apartment daily (often several times) and is constantly aware of the conditions therein. This was a requirement for her admission as a resident. In addition, the heavier housecleaning tasks that she could not complete on her own (scrubbing the floors and shower, vacuuming, etc.) are done for her at least once a week.

In addition, I gave her our Diaper Genie for her bathroom so that her "huggies" don't get strewn all over the place and to help contain the smell between trash pick-ups. This seems to work well for her and for the housekeeping staff. In addition to this, she has turned over ALL legal and financial matters to me--willingly. I believe that her disorder kept her so overwhelmed that she really didn't know how to handle her money in a logical way. When she granted me POA, I found myself dealing with almost all her accounts--utilities, mortgage, etc.--in collection status.

Having the POA has been a blessing and a curse. It has allowed me to control what funds she has for free spending (although her funds are dramatically diminished today from where they were six months ago. I have estimated that in the last five years, my mother spent over $125,000 on fast food, craft supplies, clothing and miscellaneous items of little worth of which almost none were salvageable. Who am I kidding? It was likely twice that amount. With limited funds and limited opportunity to travel (she no longer drives), it's almost impossible for her to acquire compulsively.

One curse of the POA was assigning her mail to my address. One of the issues she has always struggled with was junk mail. I remember doing clean-ups of pathways in the dining room when I was a little kid and the amazing volume of junk mail that littered our floors. I get between two and three catalogs a day(for her) at my home now. Because of how we handled this, she gets virtually no junk mail at her apartment. A good thing because I don't believe she would throw it away. I don't know for sure, but I'm grateful that she's not in a position to reoffend.

I do intervene and encourage her to organize when I'm up to her room. She doesn't get defensive. She simply complies and thanks me. Honestly, it's like she is someone besides the woman who bore me. That mother was not compliant or grateful. She could be brutally mean and hateful one second, then love you again the next. But never knowing when she might love me, I spent my time always fearing the anger and hatred.

But I am grateful for what we got--manageability--knowing that there are so many other children like me out there who never get to that point with their parent. I am grateful that I could stop and take a look at what my childhood was like and realize that it wasn't great and then mourn that loss. I am grateful even now for all the horrible things that happened because of the blessings and character they have developed within me.

Can it be cured? As long as there is a God above, I will continue to believe in the impossibilities of miracles. Sometimes that hope is all I have left.


Unknown said…
I continue to believe in a miracle everyday in my home as well, if we can't believe for a miracle what do we have? When the LORD returns scripture says HE is looking for faith, and you dear Sister have what HE is looking for, I love you. I am proud of you, and you are a blessing.
Barbara Allen said…
Ceci, what a beautiful blog. I am honored that you added me to your blog list, I would love to add you to mine, thank you!
TheSmellyArmpit said…
Thank you so much for leaving a comment on my blogpost. I have more compassion for hoarders and their families after watching the show on A&E but even more after reading your blog. Thanks so much for being so open. And you are inspiring with such a good positive attitude after all you've been dealt! Thanks again for visiting my blog. :)
Anonymous said…
Hi, Ceci! I recently found your blog and am working my way through the posts.

As far as the junk mail goes, you'll find a lot of good info on how to stop junk mail at this link:

I hope that helps.

You've got a great blog here, keep it coming! Mags

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