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Parents Need Help But Are Sensitive to Criticism

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My parents are in their 50’s and have begun hoarding stuff and their quality of life is greatly diminished. They have raccoons living in the attic, there are open holes in the side of the house, both have collected things beyond what can healthfully fit in their space, they have 8 cats and some other little things I am concerned about. The house is a constant mess because they can’t keep up with maintenance and general cleaning. I do know they realize that some things need to change, like plugging holes in the house that raccoons are getting in but when i offer help or suggestions they are super sensitive or just say “i know, but”. There is always an excuse or reason they have not gotten to it yet. I live across the country and can’t physically help around the house. There is a extensive history of self esteem issues with both parents. So how do i talk to them and help them realize I am extremely concerned about their lifestyle without them shutting down or getting extremely hurt?

Parents Need Help But Are Sensitive to Criticism

Answered by on -


I would rather see you deal with this directly now rather than wait until something catastrophic comes along. My guess is that the county they live in has social services. So the first thing you would want to do is find out who could do a home visit. Different states have various agencies that may be able to help. The first call would be to the local community hospital nearest their home, and ask to speak to someone who is in the social work department. Brainstorming with these folks is an excellent way to zero in on what agencies and services can be available. Once you find the right agency — they will better be able to help you plan.

Wishing you patience and peace,
Dr. Dan
Proof Positive Blog @ PsychCentral

Parents Need Help But Are Sensitive to Criticism

Therapists live, online right now, from BetterHelp:

Daniel J. Tomasulo, PhD, TEP, MFA, MAPP

Dan Tomasulo Ph.D., TEP, MFA, MAPP teaches Positive Psychology in the graduate program of Counseling and Clinical Psychology at Columbia University, Teachers College and works with Martin Seligman, the Father of Positive Psychology in the Masters of Applied Positive Psychology (MAPP) program at the University of Pennsylvania. He is Director of the New York Certification in Positive Psychology for the Open Center in New York City and on faculty at New Jersey City University. Sharecare has honored him as one of the top 10 online influencers on the topic of depression. For more information go to: He also writes for Psych Central's Ask the Therapist column and the Proof Positive blog.

APA Reference
Tomasulo, D. (2018). Parents Need Help But Are Sensitive to Criticism. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 30, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 May 2018 (Originally: 15 Jan 2017)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 May 2018
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