Abby: Extreme hoarding a risk to mom’s house and health

Dear Abby
Jeanne Phillips

Dear Abby: My 36-year-old son lives with me, which benefits both of us. I am retired and his income helps. The problem I’m having is he hoards garbage.

There’s garbage on his bed, and it has reached the ceiling in other parts of the room. This has been going on for many years.

Two years ago, I filled up two large garbage bags to throw out. It didn’t even make a dent. When he got home, he was furious and deducted $50 from the rent because he felt I needed to have consequences for what I did. I realized then how serious this is. I know it’s a health hazard as well as a fire hazard.

I’m at my wits’ end. I understand this has to do with loss, and he has had many, including a dad who left when I was pregnant. There has been no contact during his lifetime. Please help.

Son’s A Hoarder

Dear Son’s A Hoarder: Your son is suffering from a mental disorder. There is help for it — if he is willing to admit that he needs it.

A licensed mental health professional could help him understand why he is hoarding and motivate him to change the habits that have led to it. There are also medications that can lessen his compulsion to hoard. However, it won’t happen unless you finally put your foot down and inform your son that what he’s doing is a health and safety hazard, and a risk you will no longer tolerate. Tell him that unless he gets help, he will no longer be able to live under your roof.

Dear Abby: I am a 68-year-old male reader, married, with many friends and acquaintances. My best friend (“Brent”) has a long-time girlfriend (“Judy”’) we are with all the time. There is also another couple (“Tom”’ and “Sue”) we like very much.

The six of us have gone out and had what I thought was a good time, but when I proposed another get-together, Judy said she felt Sue was condescending and unfriendly to her. I have never experienced this with Sue, and I didn’t observe anything like that when we were all together, but I suppose I could be oblivious.

My problem is, there are times it’s awkward to not invite Tom and Sue (as well as the fact I have fun with them and would like them there). Is there something I can do to change this situation?

Awkward In The East

Dear Awkward: Don’t get into a fight between the two women. If Judy prefers not to socialize with Sue, she may not accept an invitation if she knows Sue will be there — her privilege. Because you like both couples, see them separately until this blows over — if it ever does. If you are asked why the dynamic has changed, tell Brent the truth of what Judy told you so he won’t think it has anything to do with him.

Dear Readers: Today marks the celebration of Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights. It spiritually signifies the victory of light over darkness, good over evil, knowledge over ignorance and hope over despair. My best wishes to all who celebrate it.

Contact Dear Abby at or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.