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Squalour

(93 Posts)
GuestCorrectly Fri 16-Aug-19 14:56:59

Visited a bachelor relative of DH recently. Although 70, he’s still working part time and is always clean and presentable. However, the house in which he lives alone is squalid. I doubt it’s been cleaned since we were last there 2 years before and as well as accumulated mess and stuff, is falling down around his eyes whilst he tinkers with minor projects. He seems oblivious and whilst DH and I are very concerned, we have no idea what to do. Concluded best to ignore it for the time being but to keep a watchful eye on him. Anyone with a similar experience?

Liz46 Fri 16-Aug-19 15:05:39

I'm probably being sexist but I've had this conversation with a neighbour recently. Many men just don't see dirt. I gently complained to my husband that I needed help with the housework and he said he doesn't see dirt but if I point it out, he will clean it! I know he sounds it but he is not stupid.

fizzers Fri 16-Aug-19 15:12:45

Maybe offer to lend a helping hand with a bit of cleaning? Husband could help with a few odd jobs? gently suggest he hires a cleaner?

All this needs to be suggested subtly and tactfully.

better approaching now than later when it may become totally out of hand

GuestCorrectly Fri 16-Aug-19 15:22:57

This relative is not stupid either Liz46 but it doesn’t stop him wading through heaps of paper, boxes, tools etc to cross every room; preparing food on filthy worktops; living with peeling wallpaper, holed carpets and curtains, broken furnishings, door handles hanging off; a musty smell; mice; an overgrown garden; vegetation growing in his front porch. He is aware but disinterested.

MissAdventure Fri 16-Aug-19 15:25:01

I had a friend who lived exactly like that.
She was a qualified social worker.

GuestCorrectly Fri 16-Aug-19 15:33:01

Unfortunately he refuses to have a cleaner fizzers ( thinks they will steal from him ) and to be honest the state is such that a regular cleaner could do much more than scratch the surface in an afternoon. I’m reluctant to offer my time as whilst we suggested a cleaner in a joking manner, personal intervention seems much more interfering and also would require a gargantuan effort that I suspect would neither be welcomed or appreciated and the results probably undone very quickly

Justme67 Fri 16-Aug-19 15:34:19

If he is happy, why change him - it is his life, o.k for you it is squalor, perhaps for him it is comforting. We had to clear my mother-in-laws home, she lived in similar circumstances you describe, I never questioned her right to live like that, only made sure I had a clean cup and saucer for my tea. Although it was a problem clearing out her home, my husband had so many happy memories of bits and pieces that were unearthed, and we threw away a pile of EAGLE comics, which included the very first issue. If only we had known......

M0nica Fri 16-Aug-19 15:36:12

We visited a friend a year or so back. We hadn't been to her house for years. In a street of expensively smart houses it stuck out like a sore thumb, the outside was so dilapidated, we got inside and we could hardly move, we had to take books off chairs in order to sit down and eat off our laps as so much was on the table. When I had an early morning cup of coffee, I could find no space on the worktop to put it down.

Strangely our bedroom and bathroom were clean neat and tidy. She is a wealthy woman, with a successful career behind her, and a very large pension. She even has a cleaner who has been with her for 40 years, but faced with the endless heaps of stuff, she can do little.

She never was tidy. We met at boarding school and one of the teachers would make me tidy her locker because we were close friends and I was a tidy as she was untidy.

GuestCorrectly Fri 16-Aug-19 15:36:22

Should we suggest he changes his occupation MissAdventure?

GuestCorrectly Fri 16-Aug-19 15:42:11

Thanks for your reply Justme67. I think that is the conclusion we have come to. We are concerned as to how much worse things might become, but are inclined to leave things for now and yes, I washed the mugs before drinking and sniffed the milk!

GuestCorrectly Fri 16-Aug-19 15:44:27

Thanks for your reassurance M0nica. I can’t quite imagine staying overnight there but it is good to know others have had similar experiences.

sodapop Fri 16-Aug-19 15:53:18

Whilst living in those sort of conditions is not for most of us your friend is entitled to make his own choices about how he lives Guestcorrectly.
You could mention any serious health and safety issues but otherwise leave him to it, I take it he is mentally competent.

GuestCorrectly Fri 16-Aug-19 16:04:16

It is reassuring when people echo our thoughts sodapop. DH and I had a long discussion as to whether we detected any mental deterioration but on the basis that he is still working, have concluded that whilst we have concerns, they are not significant. More worried that this could be the start of a downhill spiral as whilst there were always traits of untidiness in the past, we seem to be heading towards full on, let go.

Minniemoo Fri 16-Aug-19 16:08:13

I have a female friend who lives like this. A truly chaotic home. People don't tend to be invited in. She's happy like this. I reckon it's a bit of a death trap but it's her life. We'll have the odd chat about having a sort out ... I remind her of the photos we want to locate but nothing ever materialises.

We've all just left her to it. And I genuinely believe that even if powerful cleaning pixies were let loose the house would soon revert to its original squalid mess.

Cabbie21 Fri 16-Aug-19 17:12:18

I have a friend whose house is in a terrible state, inside and out. The paint is peeling off, the garden is overgrown. Nobody is ever invited in, as he openly states that it is not fit for visitors. He is intelligent, very capable intellectually, involved in all sorts of projects, not a recluse or anything. It just doesn’t seem to bother him. I don’t think there is any point trying to say or do anything.

petra Fri 16-Aug-19 17:27:19

You have to wipe your feet when you leave my nephews house. 😡

Luckygirl Fri 16-Aug-19 17:32:32

*I had a friend who lived exactly like that.
She was a qualified social worker.* - ditto - and she was my boss. Maybe it is the same person!

I used to avoid going to her housed like the plague; and certainly never ate anything there unless it was from a sealed source. Her whole team used to find excuses not to go to her place - it was entirely disgusting!!!

SisterAct Fri 16-Aug-19 17:35:27

My DH and I have been allowed in close friends house for first time in 20 years as sadly he has been in hospital for several months, so been going to get post etc.. House is as Cabbie 21 describes. He is adamant he wants to go home, his wife had to go in a home. He has allowed us to do some cleaning. 100% better but still a nightmare He was too proud to admit things got too much. I’d keep quiet and as you say ignore for now.

GuestCorrectly Fri 16-Aug-19 17:39:32

Thank you everyone for your replies and support. On the whole it sounds like we are taking the right course of action in doing nothing. Guess it was guilt as well as concern that made me post. No excuse for misspelling “squalor” though!

CanadianGran Fri 16-Aug-19 18:38:53

I would have a word with him, in a kind way. Even though he may not outwardly mind the mess, he may realize it is out of hand and an unhealthy environment.

Perhaps by reminding him he is protecting his investment by doing regular upkeep would be kinder. I think it would depend on how close your relationship is.

seacliff Fri 16-Aug-19 18:51:29

My Uncle got like that, his wife would have been so upset and embarrassed to see it. However nothing we suggested would sway him. He adamantly refused a cleaner, and all my poor Dad could do was buy him new underwear/clothes from time to time, and bring him nice meals.

When he had trouble walking, my Dad visited regularly and brought his whiskey allowance, watered down. When he eventually died, the place had to be fumigated, and a special clean done. His children kept their distance, it was all down to my Dad and our family. It was a sad end, but he chose what he wanted.

Tangerine Fri 16-Aug-19 19:27:40

I've had relatives like this. In the end, you have to leave them to it as it's their life.

My friend is similar.

EllanVannin Fri 16-Aug-19 19:31:36

I used to visit an elderly man who was like that. I did it as a favour because he lived quite close at the time. I'd never seen such squalor in my life------he was wealthy too and preferred to live in a pre-fabricated dwelling rather than one of his properties on the same land.

He'd offer me a cup of tea made with the water from his hot water bottle, eeuuww. Toast under the grill had been there for days and was curling up. Needless to say nothing passed my mouth in that place.

How I ever got the place clean and liveable I'll never know, but it took me weeks of visiting before it was habitable. Someone from across the road used to keep an eye on him too at night. He used to attend Quaker meetings in Liverpool until it wasn't safe for him to go out and about.

CatterySlave1 Fri 16-Aug-19 22:16:16

Whatever happened to free will and the ability to make our own choices? He’s got mental capacity and isn’t asking for help so are you asking if you should interfere in the life choices of another competent adult? Where does actions like that stop? Just because you have different beliefs of how you choose to live and keep your own home doesn’t mean that you have any right to impose those on others, relatives or not. I’m totally not recommending his choice of living conditions for everyone, just advocating for the freedom to make ones own decisions until we’re unable or unsafe to do so.

MawB Fri 16-Aug-19 22:18:53

Is this a case of a real “pig sty” which is also a health hazard or is it subjective- his “bit of a muddle” may be your “squalor”