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Please help - questions about my brother

C

CuriousSir

New member
Joined
Oct 12, 2020
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2
Location
USA
Hi everyone 👋 I’m new here and signed up on the forum to read, learn and hopefully understand a few things related to my big brother. I wasn’t sure what section to post it in so hope it’s ok putting here. Thanks for clicking on this and providing any insight you might have. Here goes...

My brother is in his early 50s, has held a full time job at the same employer for 25+ years, is single (doesn’t date, never has that I know of) and lives on his own in an apartment. He does not smoke or drink. He and I, along with the rest of the family are extremely close. He is a tremendously kind, gentle and thoughtful brother and uncle to his nieces and nephews.
Throughout his life he has struggled with his weight both gaining and losing significant amounts, leading up to a gastric bypass surgery several years ago which has for the most part gone well.

Ok, so here’s the issue/question and I’m not sure how to say this so I just will. I love my brother dearly so I hope this doesn’t come across as mean because that’s not my intent...

My brother lives in total filth. His apartment is filled with trash (literally), empty boxes, bags, knick knacks, etc. There is a path from his bed to his family room reclining chair and that’s about it. Trash (empty bags, bottles, boxes, etc. is 3-4 feet high all around. He eats and then throws the trash right onto the carpet. This is not the first time. We (the brothers) have met with him several times over the years to talk about the apartment and have helped him clean it several times (health issue, fire issue, scared of him getting evicted) but it continues to happen. There is animal feces on the countertops, and the place smells terrible. He has 30 boxes of unopened and unused CPAP supplies lining his bedroom wall. He has them on auto ship/auto bill and won’t cancel them though he knows he’ll never use them. His kitchen is disgusting and need a full deep cleaning. He literally walks right through the trash every day to get from his bed, to the refrigerator, to his recliner and back to bed. His bathroom is disgusting - no one would ever use it. The place is a fire waiting to happen.

He also seems to have no concern for his own self care or hygiene. He rarely showers and smells really bad which is very obvious. He has had cases of ‘accidents’ through the years and ‘not making it’ to the bathroom in time. Its so bad my wife, myself and others are not comfortable with him holding our children. He rarely cuts his hair unless told that he needs to. His nails are always filthy. He is almost like a big child that needs to be told what to do. He will very often text us or our wives asking our opinions on ‘what he should do’ in a situation.

We have had many talks with him through the years but each time it’s just like he doesn’t get it. We often get blank stares or zero response at all. He will often sit quietly and maybe offer a word or two in response if at all. He lives next to a family with young children and in addition to his own health doesn’t seem to understand that he is hazard to himself and others around him. The most frustrating part is that he doesn’t seem to ‘understand’ or ‘get it’ that this is not normal behavior. He is the oldest of the four brothers. We have tried talking to him so many times with zero sense of him ‘getting it.’ We normally feel like we make no progress but love him dearly and won’t give up on him. We are also however, not sure what to do. I don’t believe my brother is just ‘lazy.’ I think there is more to the picture but I have no idea what to do or how I can help.

I wish I could put my finger on something to understand how to help. This has gone on for the better part of his life. Sorry for the terribly long post but a huge than kyou in advance for any thoughts, suggestions or insight you might be able to provide.
 
Hardknocks88

Hardknocks88

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Jan 26, 2020
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243
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Murrieta, CA
Their are mentally ill people that are like kids that sometimes need to be told what to do. Sometimes Their are many forms of hygiene issues in mental illness. Sounds like he also a slob with just throwing trash on the ground. Not good for sure. Rather he works on it or he spends the rest of his life like this.
 
I

Italian Stallion

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Oct 12, 2020
Messages
30
Location
Dallas
That is a tough one to figure out; i can say a friend of mine had a sister like that, she just ate and didn't pick things up. She would shower or bath unless they made her. She even got yeast infections all over her upper body from not taking a bath/shower. She finally shut down mentally and wouldn't talk to them and they ended up putting her in a nursing facility and she didn't last 3 months before she passed away. My friend (her brother) said they never found out exactly what was wrong with her but it had to be mental problems or some sort of dementia.

Sorry to learn about your brother but it sounds like he is shutting down slowly. I'm not a professional but please take him to a doctor or specialist to have a brain scan.
 
M

Mistral

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Joined
Apr 28, 2011
Messages
444
If he has a full time job, then he must be able to function properly fairly well in one part of his life. I think you should not ever mention his personal hygiene or the the state of his apartment. In fact I would give him the impression that you like the way he lives and even approve of it. Discuss other things that he wants to discuss with you. He might want to talk about his work or he might be interested in you and your family, brothers and sisters or mutual friends. Even discuss problems that you or he has such as with people at work or with neighbours.

A brother in his fifties lived with me for a few years and he was a bit like you brother. His bedroom was never tidy or clean the whole time he lived with me and he rarely washed. A hoover had never been in his room and I never once saw him take a shower or bath. I am convinced that if I had ever mentioned the state of his room or his personal hygiene to him, he would have totally ignored me and his room and hygiene would have got worse than it was.
 
Bizzarebitrary

Bizzarebitrary

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Dec 17, 2018
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689
Location
California, US
You sound like a loving brother and your concern is coming from a place of love, it speaks highly of you and the rest of your family.

Your brother's apparent lack of self-care, letting his health and living environment deteriorate, it may not make any sense to me or you. But it's probably rational behavior--from his very personal logic. A willingness to change behavior comes when we see that it do not get us what we want and we realize we have more than one or two alternatives.

Perhaps instead of trying to convince him that he needs to change his lifestyle, explaining the risks and problems it creates, you might try to really see how his actions benefit him. What purpose they serve. I can't know what faulty interpretations allow him to live in filthy conditions but I believe that he views it as either the only option or the best one.
 
B

bpd2020

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Hello curious sir. Welcome to the forum. I can tell you love your brother very much and this must have been so hard to write about. I would have him assessed by a doctor. It may be he is unable to live alone and would do better in supported housing.
 
Z

Zoe1

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Nowhere
he can't be assessed by a doctor
unless he is willing to be
other than that you can find help for yourself
as to how you respond to it
 
jajingna

jajingna

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Sounds like a form of OCD or hoarding in my view.
 
C

CuriousSir

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Oct 12, 2020
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Location
USA
Thanks all - yes this was not easy to write and years of discussions, brother-meetings and even (unfortunately) threats haven’t improved the situation. We all feel defeated, believing that something must be wrong mentally but not sure what to do.

He is a man of few words and when it comes to this, mostly no words. I went to his apartment a month ago because he was having a repair issue and when I opened the door I could barely walk due to trash everywhere. My immediate reaction was ‘brother,wtf - it’s like this again?’ and his response was ‘I know, I know.’ Even in a calm manner, probing questions get no where. When we ask ‘why’ he lives like this he says ‘I don’t know.’ When we ask if he wants to change (and that we’ll help him any way we can) he says ‘yes’ but then does nothing to change or falls back into the same behaviors. Literally - the apartment across from his just had a fire that destroyed the property. When we ask if he understands that the place is a fire hazard to him and everyone connected to him it’s like he doesn’t get it.

He really is like a big man-child. He has a really difficult time making decisions and asks us or our wives for input on mostly everything he does. As example, he recently had surgery on his toe and asked me if he can get his haircut or should wait until the stitches come out. He’s able to drive and certainly allowed to get his haircut - a completely illogical question (to me) but normal behavior for him.

I think we know he should see a doctor to get some type of evaluation but he needs to want to get help as well. I wish it was easy to connect the dots and understand how he feels and why he behaves how he does, and see a clear plan to help but I know it doesn’t work like that...

Thanks everyone for listening and for your thoughts and feedback.
 
M

Mistral

Well-known member
Joined
Apr 28, 2011
Messages
444
He seems to behave like a naughty adolescent on occasions, but he is unlikely to behave like this with his employer and his work colleagues, so you can assume that he has the ability to behave like a rational functioning adult. Perhaps you need to stop pushing him so much with regard to getting the apartment cleaned.

Can you afford to pay for therapy? It might get him get unstuck from where he is now.
 
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