Let me tell you my latest MIL the hoarder story.
She called my husband last night and told him to come over right away. She sounded sheepish, knowing my husband would give her hell once he got there and found out what had happened.
We got tl her apartment and found broken dishes all over the floor and counters in her kitchen. She had stuffed her kitchen cabinet so full of dishes that the weight finally brought the whole cupboard down off the wall!
There was an amazing amount of unnecessary dishware there. She lives alone. But, she sees things she likes and buys them. She likes lots of options. She has mugs for this kind of coffee maker and mugs for that kind of coffee maker, mugs for tea, mugs that microwave well and mugs to go. There were bowls for cereal, bowls for soup, bowls for taking leftovers hom from potlucks, bowls for the grandkids, bowls for holidays, etc. There was plenty of Tupperware, but also washed and saved bowls, packages, etc from grocery products. There were stacks of plastic cups from fast food restaurents that she had saved. This all felt necessary to her.
Fortunately, most of the stuff broke, and there was still plenty of dishes left, so I walked her through the task of reorganizing things once my husband reattached the cupboard to the wall.
First, is any of this trash since we are already taking the broken stuff to the dumpster? She let go of the fast food drink cups.
"Is there any of this stuff that you don't use very often that we can put on the top shelf?" She let a good set of dishes go up on the top shelf where she couldn't reach.
"How about we put the plates on the bottom shelf since it is sturdier?" She agreed.
"How about we put the mugs and glasses on the middle shelf where you can still reach them?" She agreed.
When space was filling up, she suggested that we could put duplicate items away in other cabinets. I relented in order to keep the new arrangement organized.
This is the type of thought processes that you go through in order to keep things neat and tidy, but she can't do it herself. She needs me to walk her through things.
I have no doubt that within a year, the cupboard will be all stuffed up again. Hoarding is a durable disorder.
She hoarded up the giant 4 bedroom house she had before this small apartment. The insurance company dropped her policy because the house was in such bad shape. Then some of the hoard caught on fire and the house burned down. She lost everything.
She started anew in a small subsidized senior apartment and it is extremely messy. She has to keep it somewhat in check though because the management does checks every 6 months. Her daughters come and purge and clean every 6 months, but it gets just as bad again. She's taken to hiding stuff in her car before their cleaning visits so she can keep things she wants.
It's extremely frustrating to deal with on a continual basis.