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Extreme Hoarding Poses Risk to Mom's House and Health

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.

It's terrible. 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.

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