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The reason I am saying to ask your aging parents to downsize is to do so while everyone still has the energy to help sort, donate, and move into something more manageable.


My parents were in their mid to late 90's and still glued to their single family house. Once Mom passed a couple of months ago and Dad decided last month it was a good time to move to Independent Living, he now wants to sell the house ASAP.


Dad only took what he needed for his new apartment.... there is still a lot of furniture left in the house, kitchen cabinets with lot of cookware and glassware, not to mention the stuff in the garage, and everything in Dad's workshop in the basement [found a very old computer down there] and more stuff. I already tossed out a lot of clothes that I couldn't donate, and have bags of clothes to donate. I do plan to call an Estate Sale person to sell the items. But I need to throw the junk out first.


Whew, after work I am tired and that only give me maybe an hour each day to tackle one corner of one room. Oh my gosh, all the dust !!! Let's not forget about all the paperwork that ones elders keep. Like warranty booklets for things they no longer have. I dragged home several dozen 3-rings binders with financial info, as I now need to do the finances as Dad doesn't want to bother with it. Oh fun.


And there are things I would like to keep so now my family room at home looks like a flea market :P And there is more to cart home when I get the energy. Oh my gosh, as here I was trying to limit the things I have as I am senior myself, and would like to downsize before too long. It's hard to part with things that were part of my growing up.


So, once your Mom and Dad start to slow down, and you start to notice that they aren't keeping the house up, try to get them to sell and move into something smaller [it can still be a single family house but half the size], that way they would need to either donate, sell or toss out "stuff". I know it won't be easy. I would try to get my Mom to donate items, and to her that was one knick knack each year.... [sigh].



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LaraLu, I had to chuckle when you mentioned your Mom's shredder, and how she didn't want anyone to get her address.   My parents also acted like they were in the witness protection program, no piece of trash went out with an address.

My Mom would give me her magazines, but first she would need to take a heavy black marker to ink out her address...  like I was going to sell her address to some marketing service???

Churchmouse, ah those industrial size filing cabinets.   My parents had things misfiled in those, too.  It made for some interesting sorting.   Had a lot of paper cuts going through those file drawers.... [sigh].
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LaraLu, I haven't yet completely got over the cold sweat induced by finding the deeds to my parents' house wedged into a suspension file crammed with old travel brochures in my mother's industrial grade filing cabinet. "Holidays" next to "House," you see. A mistake anyone could make, to shove the deeds in the wrong file; especially when the drawer is crammed so full you can barely pull the files out anyway. And not a problem as long as you know that you do not ever throw anything away, ever.

This was how she explained it, anyway, as I turned to her with a thunderstruck expression on my face holding the deeds out to her. My head swam. I had to sit down and take deep breaths.

If your mother is obviously beginning to struggle with paperwork, tackle it from the other end by selecting what does need to be kept. Get a good, stout strong box or similar, and hunt down everything important to put in it. Passport, birth certificates, deeds, share certificates, insurance policies, her will, POA documents. This isn't for sentimental reasons, it's so that you know for sure that you can lay your hands on the crucial legal and financial stuff if necessary.
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Just finished re-reading this entire strand of conversation. Wow! Like CaringRN said, I feel like we have the same mothers...but then so many of your stories and solutions are like mine. FF...I offer my condolences for the loss of your father. My dad died just two years ago and to be honest, I think my mom is getting worse in a lot of ways. The "paperwork" as she calls it, is out of control. I go over and with her watching guard, determine what can be filed (she loves to file everything). I put post-its on stacks of paid bills (she refuses to throw them away.."What if I need them?"). I write: NO ACTION NEEDED. Okay to File. She tells me she will put them in her file, then months later, I find them stuck underneath another pile. One day, I actually went through a bunch of junk mail (five months of advertisements for reduced internet service ... she doesn't have a computer) all of the junk mail was TRULY junk mail. Then next day she told me how it took her hours going back through the garbage and taking all the stuff out I had tossed and she had to shred some of it (she loves her shredder...lives in fear of someone finding her address on a piece of junk mail!). Just today, she complained that she needs to get another check of drawers for her clothes. Dear God, no! I suggested that if she were to empty out the extra dresser in one of her bedrooms she would have lots of drawer space. She told me she has two drawers filled with Daddy's socks and underwear. I know keeping his stuff makes it feel like he's not gone, but that is not helping her with her depression. It's just a mess. Like so many of you, this has made me neurotic about purging my own stuff. I even told her (trying to set an example) that if I died tomorrow, I would not want my daughters to have to sift through piles of crap and that they'd be saying "What in God's name was Mom keeping this for?!!" Well that little exercise backfired! She launched into a rant about how today's young people have it too easy, don't appreciate anything and don't have the same feeling and respect for people like the way she was raised. Dear God! She is a complete captive to her house, her mess, her OCD and is resentful of me "I don't understand how you have time to babysit" or she throws it back to me that my husband and I see too many movies. I remind her that I've taken her to three movies in the last few months and that if she'd get things under control we could have more days hanging out having fun rather than being depressed and overwhelmed. Nothing works. But, like I've said in my other posts, I so appreciate reading about you all and getting support knowing that my situation is far from unique!
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Speaking of old photos.... I found pictures of my Mom when she was in her late teens and early twenties.   First time I ever saw those photos.   Her high school graduation photo showed her in a full length satin straight grown carrying a huge bouquet of flowers, the photo was professionally done.

Then I found photos of my Mom's brother when he was in his late teens and early twenties.   My gosh, he could have been a poster boy for Hollywood, a combination of Troy Donahue and Robert Redford.

And, of course, photos of people I have zero idea who they are.... [sigh].
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I kept a few on mother's things from our family home - the dark carved oak dining room set and coffee and end tables. I am glad I did, but they are so large and heavy I don't know what I will do with the when I leave this house. I know my kids don't want them.

guest - I am sure that no one in my family wants any of my jewelry and that's OK. I have already disposed of much paper work of mother's. Again, though it is about family, my kids don't want it. I have had to be very practical. Once she passes, I will offer it to extended family, and get rid of most, if not all, of the rest with few regrets.
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Golden, I've given away jewelry to nieces and nephew's new wives and cousin's daughter. It passed on things that I don't wear any more. I just have to remind self that whatever they do with it is not mine to command:)
When we went through my mother's house after she died, the saddest thing for me was how many photos and cards she kept that NO ONE had any idea about. She had lots of paperwork that she kept for years and we alternated the shred party. When my son moved out to college, my husband completely emptied his room and took possession of it. We have a futon he can sleep on, but it's been completely gutted. Only benefit is that now I have example of why his parents cannot move in with us since he was discouraging son's return from college:)) jk
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Snap, MsMadge! I did something similar with my grandmother's piano, gave it "on permanent loan" to a lovely family whose two little boys were starting lessons.

And now every newspaper and magazine I pick up has articles about "it's never too late to learn an instrument!"... "from zero to Bach in eighteen weeks - woman fulfils lifelong dream"...
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FF
Isn't it always after you've given somethings up that you wish you had them back
After mom's first set of bad falls and rehab stay, she bought herself a treat - a stickley bookcase - of course she never got around to anchoring it - earthquake country - and so here it sits empty

Last year I gave my 40+ year old guitar to a teen in my boss's church - I felt good about it at the time and the boy wrote me a note saying what good care he'd take of it - but dang if I don't miss it
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Tonight I was thinking how I wished I could have kept more of my parents furniture... to swap out some furniture I could easily have said good-bye to.

But sometimes we have no choice because things need to be donated, or trashed due to deadlines.   I would have loved to have kept my parents 1940's bedroom dresser and high-boy, it was in beautiful condition.   If only I had the time and energy to have thought everything through.   I was just so overwhelmed.

It's sad, that our parents whole life time of saving and buying furniture can now only be found in old photos.   I was lucky to bring home my childhood dresser even if the drawers are now a bear to open and close [I have rubbed soap on the sliders], and a few bookcases and benches that my Dad hand made.

If only my parents would have started to downsize back when life was pain free for them and for me.   Age had caught up with us.
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ff - jewelry will be a big challenge is for me. I have too much. Maybe start in a small way weeding out things I know I will never wear again. I do pretty well with recycling clothing several times a year. Many still fit but I am just not wearing them so they can move on, Giving old tools to a museum is a great idea,

amy - on the whole I find I don't get much for used furniture etc, but my main thing is just to get rid of it. I agree that every time something goes out of the house it is cause to celebrate.

The "next door" websites sounds like the face book pages that have popped up here since the fire. I find then very helpful. I have given and sold stuff and also got good recommendations re tradesmen, and services. What a blessing!
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We have a Nextdoor website too. I've been able to give away or sell a lot of items that I no longer want, yet don't want to trash. Just sold a queen size air mattress, brand new and hope to sell a couple of my antique quilts. Its a great way to meet your neighbors, and a lot safer than advertising on Craig's list
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Where I live, there is a "Nextdoor" website in which people from subdivisions within a 5 mile radius can sign onto. This is fairly new, around maybe for a couple of years and now covers a lot of subdivisions. I signed up because I was somewhat nosy. Website is great, the people talk about community interest, pet lost & found, ask for recommendations for plumbers, doctors, schools, etc. and there are the classifieds.

It is amazing how quickly furniture and "stuff" are either sold or given away. It pops up in one's email daily. Guess it is like the old saying, one man's trash is another man's treasure.
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Every time I sell something and see it go out of the house I feel 5 pounds lighter off my shoulders! I must be nuts right? It has nothing to do with the money, which is minimal, just that it felt soooooooo good when 2 dog crates, a quilt, a queen size air mattress, and extra set of central vac tools were no longer piled in a corner in the basement! Not even counting the trunkload of stuff that went to Goodwill from drawers and closets Yay! This could become addictive!
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Yes, hubby has duplicates of every car part and two of every tool! LOL!
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I think being a pack rat is equal in men and women, they just keep different kinds of things. I've mentioned before sis is a borderline hoarder, she has boxes of treasures collected by herself and kids, clothes, nick-knacks etc.
BIL has car magazines, hundreds of T-shirts he can wear while working on his cars, as well as the tools (new, used and awaiting repair), parts, and sports equipment.
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Working on that myself but having a problem selling excess furniture. Everyone wants it for nothing yet will pay more to buy new cardboard backed stuff. Hubby doesn't want to give it away (sentimental) so I'm trying for "reasonable" prices. We need a new couch desperately (ours is 24 yrs old and worn down by the dogs) I think that is a good way to go - sell stuff and use the money for something we need but can't afford out of the budget.
If I could only get hubby to do something with all the junk in the downstairs rec room (never used in 25 years) including the various pieces of wood, old pictures, old books and magazines, etc. I wonder - do you think more men are pack rats than women?? The older I get, the more I hate clutter!
I wish the internet had never been invented, he spends hours and hours every day looking for this and that to buy - a screw, a piece of plastic something, a can of this or that - the UPS guy thinks we are running a business. Its just too easy to buy and buy when its at your fingertips! Drives me nuts because I can't seem to enforce the rule - "if you buy something - something has to go OUT the door (like 25 year old flannel shirts with holes in the elbows and 12 pairs of slacks and jean that haven't fit for 10 years and never will) Sigh..........
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Well, I started some minor toss, keep, donate in my own house today. It felt good.

Like why do I need 10 pairs of pantyhose and knee highs when I no longer wear heels... out they went. Out went my Cub Scout and Girl Scout badges, I am a bit too old to start showing those off.... cooking badge, that's a laugh... maybe I did well doing marshmallows over a camp fire.

Gathered up clothes that no longer fit. Jewelry I no longer wear. Belts that had fit a couple years ago, but not any longer.... as my late Dad would say "a good rope works every time" :) Maybe I can start a new fad.

Couple weeks ago I donated some very old tools that were my Dad's to the local historical farm museum... I had other items that the museum took pictures of and will get back to me if they can use those items or not.
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Moecam, how true that is... any time anyone has someone coming into the house to pick up items to be donated, we have to clone ourselves to be in every room to make sure items we want to keep aren't taken out.

For myself, I printed out Salvation Army logos onto sheets of paper, and taped the paper onto the items I wanted the guys to take. It made their job easier.

What was hard was trying to keep track of what organization took what as I had to empty a whole houseful of "stuff". I was trying to write down as fast as I could the items that were going into the truck. Whew. Now I scribbled sheets of paper that I am trying to translate :P
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If you send things to an auctioneer - go to that auction to see how your items are handled - mom didn't go & there was something picked up by mistake & it was sold
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Oh Kimber I understand! My Ils made my sil set up their dining room set in the REC ROOM, in the basement, and wanted her to unpack all thier china, etc and place it . They were quite mad she wouldnt. I asked if they were going to eat down there..Of course not silly girl. Then why unpack it I asked? Because it;s nice.... nope, none of want it either, which infuriates them because it's good furniture. They don;t understand it;s not in style or our style.Oh the stuff they insisted get moved with them,, now the house has 2 families stuff in it, and alot is still in boxes.
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My mil lives alone in a 2-story house on 40 acres in upstate NY. The house,basement, attic, barn and another building are full of "stuff." She has made little to no effort to downsize and get rid of any of it. (This is the same person who has put her second home -- a small 1960s cottage on one of the Finger Lakes -- into a life estate for herself and made her 5 children joint owners with right of survivorship. It's essentially going to go to the "last sibling standing" and to heck with any of the descendants of the rest.)

We are the farthest away, so the problem of dealing with mil's junk after she dies is going to mostly be on her darling daughters....one is the executrix of her estate, and the other one apparently gets the old house on 40 acres (because she's not married and is most in need of help, according to mil).

I am not willing to contribute anything to mil's maintenance and upkeep in future years. She spent an inheritance traveling the world, redoing her kitchen, etc.
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I remember when I told my Dad I was going to be very busy the next couple of months cleaning out his and my late Mom's house, getting it ready to sell. Dad said "hire a bulldozer". I had to laugh, then I was wondering what would the HOA {homeowners association] would think about THAT :)
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My SIL is a geriatric nurse that does in home visits to housebound patients. We had a talk in front of my MIL/FIL about what frustrates children the most after parents move into care. She mentioned having to deal with 70 years of stuff. I laughed and mentioned that I told my mom I was going to hire a company to come in and clean it all out - I didn't want anything. My MIL said she hoped we would divide and take her furniture, china etc. and both of us said nope - we have our own furniture etc. Kind of shocked my mother in law, but she and FIL are horrible hoarders and won't get rid of appliances that don't work -my FIL is cheap and buys cheap stuff that breaks down - then it goes in the basement. He doesn't want to pay the few bucks per appliance for disposal.
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Thanks all for your comments and support. Yes, fortunately everything is in a trust and she has allowed me to have contact with her banker, her attorney and her accountant. She does trust me as she makes sure I go with her to these appointments and fortunately for me, her banker, lawyer and accountant have stressed to her the importance of making sure I know everything. She did need my help desperately with her taxes and like I mentioned before, when she needs me to help with any sort of thing that comes in the mail, she calls me but wants me to come running immediately. I know she's just scared and feeling vulnerable. But she's so set in her ways and her perceptions are truly her reality and there's no convincing her otherwise. Literally, every single day there is some sort of drama. She has three locks on her doors and two days ago one broke, lodging the dead bolt into the door jam. OMG, you would not believe the phone calls to multiple people in the family trying to find a locksmith. When we finally set her up with one he fixed the lock and corrected the wrong way in which it had been installed 40 years ago. The knob on the inside had to be turned in the opposite direction of the other two locks. So this guy fixed it. Sounds good, right? Nope! She went outside, supposedly got locked outside even though she had the key in her hand; had to go trekking down the sloped mountain rodeway to a neighbor's house. He was able to get the door open for her (they also brought her dinner afterwards!). So today, she called the guy back to come out and take the perfectly okay lock he fixed yesterday and put it back in the wrong way that it had been for the last 40 years because in her own words, "I am not going to change and try to get used to turning it the other way." When he refused to come back out, she called the bank to try and cancel the charge but it was too late so, get this...she actually cancelled that bankcard because "the guy was rude to me and I don't trust him with my bankcard number." I had 6 phone calls related to this drama. I won't go into the other one related to family issues!!!! I wouldn't mind, but she gets annoyed when I want to get off (temporarily) to actually eat a meal with my husband. I truly know that this is going to just get worse as time goes on, but it is good to be able to vent to others who understand. So here's a big hug to you all! (I am supposed to go on an overnight field trip this weekend with my 9 year old granddaughter...I am sure she will not be happy with that!) And so the story goes....
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They consider this a mental illness now, hoarding disorder, and like other mental illnesses treatment is voluntary til they are a danger to themselves or others. My sympathy, this is a tough spot to be in. But always consider that she might become unable to manage her home or affairs, or that something bad will happen at some point, and have some contingency plans ready, If she is at least seeing doctors maybe one of them could at least do a mini-mental status exam with her.
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@LaraLu; Are we related? I think we have the same Mom LOL!
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LaraLu, oh I hope your Mom has everything in a Trust. If not, and heaven forbid something happens to Mom, the probate court will want to know the value of each and everything your Mom had as per the date of passing. Yikes !!!

The way I got my Dad to go see an Elder Law Attorney and do a Trust, was when I told him "The State will get half your wealth".... he was ready for the Attorney. We had a Trust set up, but sadly Dad [95] passed before I was able to transfer anything into the Trust.... hello Probate :P It will a tad easier since my Dad did move into senior living and we sold the house and emptied the house out. Dad didn't have much of his things at Memory Care so inventory of those items will be easier.
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Laralu
Welcome to the enchanted land of eldercare

My mom had warranty slips and instruction manuals on kitchen gadgets she didn't even own anymore

Mom also liked to hide money so it makes going through old paper a bit more time consuming - nearly shred an envelope with $800 in it

It is difficult to do but try not to get upset with what you cannot change -

This is a safe place to vent
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Sorry for going off on a tangent. Feeling guilty because in addition to all of the above, my mom is very loving and has always taken care of her family, She's just sad and unhappy and nobody can fix it.
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I just finished reading all these posts and amazed at how similar our stories are! Encouraging or even making the slightest suggestion to my 87 yr old mom to downsize, purge, gift, donate, toss ANYTHING makes her fighting mad. It's just not her precious momentos, priceless furniture, 6 closets full of clothes snd shoes that she cannot wear, or the 50 years of photographs that she is going to get into albums someday, or the china, crystal, knick knacks and framed photos or even the tons of awards, plaques and newspaper articles related to my dad's career that concern me. We all realize she's not budging until they take her out on a gurney. But what DOES drive me crazy is the crap! The stacks and stacks of mail, magazines, Costco catalogues from three years back, every single drawer and cabinet packed to the breaking point! Her personal phone books are 6 inches thick bound with 3 rubber bands, post it notes everywhere on cabinet doors, shoes boxes and pink plastic toss-away basins brought home from multiple hospital trips being used to stack mail, old bills, advertisements and months and months of church bullletins! She gets incensed if I show her that a coupon book expired and blasts me with, "I don't need you to tell me whst I need or dont need!" She has 4 tall file cabinets with every invoice, policy, receipt or instructions for the past 50 years. I think it's downright disrespectful and selfish to one's grown kids to put this off on them. She focuses only on the negative, refuses any real help then cries out in panic and expects me and my kids and a few other adult grandkids to drop everything and help her when she panics over something (something we tried to get her to do prior). She thrives on drama, nothing is ever done to. her exacting standards and she has become just plain ol' depressed and bitter. She flat out told her Dr's she won't take antidepressants or sleeping aids yet she is very, very depressed, full of anxiety over EVERYTHING and cannot sleep until 5 or 6:00 in the morning because she's scared (she has a huge locked yard, high tech monitored security alarm system, outdoor spot lights all around the house abd triple dead bolt locks on the windows and lives in a good neighborhood and has a Life Alert pendant). She csnnot live with anyone because she won't get rid of anything, gets furious at the suggestion that we store anything and there's no room fir anyone else's belongings. She won't allow any strangers into het home and again, gets unbelievably angry at the suggestion of hiring someone to do ANYTHING and yes, she can afford it! She is in constant pain and does not eat sufficiently and is undernourished. I cook tons of home cooked meals and stock her fridge and freezer. The kids take her out to eat or bring her dinner. Yet all she does is say negative things about everything esp me. She actually told my oldest daughter the other day after I'd gone over, took her food, vacuumed, took care if some mail, "I don't know why your mother came over today... she never helped me before." Gasp in disbelief! She is also extremely jealous when I babysit my grandkids or my daughters drop by for a visit. I have to constantly remind her that she babysat for me and how much I appreciated it. Bottom line for me: lots of prayers and realizing "it is what it is"!
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