Brother with severe mental illness

Morning folks,

My brother (46) has been unwell with a diagnosis of schizophrenia for many years.
Recently his behaviour has got much worse and it’s having a significant effect on my elderly mother with whom he lives most of the time.

He drinks heavily, is argumentative and belligerent. He rants about his delusions and is not able to have a coherent conversation, despite having his medication.

He comes and goes to the house at all hours and is dirty and unhygienic. He smells really bad and refuses to wash or change clothes. He has started to hoard and stores his items (mainly vitamins and tinned food and alcohol) in my mum’s kitchen. The whole place is a tip which causes my mum great distress but as they are co-dependent, she is unable to draw boundaries and will not ask him to go back to his own flat. His flat is disgusting and he would lose his tenancy if the housing association inspected it. My mum and I sometimes clean it for him, but I resent doing this as it is so distressing.

I am a trigger for him and we can’t easily be in the same room as he becomes verbally hostile.

IS there anyone who can relate to this? I know there are no answers, no services and nothing that can help if he refuses to accept support, which he does. My mum is agoraphobic and also will not access any help.

It feels so stuck, and I am very scared of what the future holds.

Thanks to anyone who can understand.

Why does mum let brother turn her place into a tip?

I think she is afraid of upsetting him and him becoming more ill or getting verbally aggressive. They are co-dependent and she has issues of her own with setting boundaries.

I am just seeking someone who ‘gets it’ really. Someone in a similar situation and can relate.

Hi Jacqueline,

I can’t relate to your situation personally as my caree lives with me.

Others on here have experience of caring for elderly relatives and/or relatives with mental health problems.

Hoarding comes up quite often although it is often elderly relatives who hoard.

It must be very stressful to see this situation and be coming up against obstacles to make improvements.

Ideally what do you think should happen?

How old is your Mum? Is she dependent on your brother just for shopping or does he help her with other things?


Unfortunately, it’s a very difficult situation.
I once knew 2 old ladies living in utter chaos, refused help. One died and the other just left her for days!!
My own mum was a hoarder, it took my sons and I a year to empty her house. Fortunately, it was all clean, mainly furniture, but still a nightmare. I could not say anything to make her reduce the amount of stuff.

Under some limited circumstances, Social Services could remove mum from her home and place her in care. How would you feel about this?
Of course it’s really brother who is the root problem.
Is the GP aware of how serious the issue is?
Could you take some photos to show the doctor?

Hello Jacqueline and welcome.
You say 'Recently his behaviour has got much worse. Do you know why his behaviour has got worse?
Has he got any friends or other places he goes to?
It sounds like he is severely depressed and that is why he doesn’t bother with his personal hygiene and cleaning anymore. How about you or your mum get him a warm soapy bath all ready for him next time he visits and your mum encourages him to use it? It’s worth a try!