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My 84-year-old dad was always sloppy, but now that my mother has Alzheimer's his bedroom is a nightmare. There are piles of dirty clothes mixed with office papers everywhere. I can see visible dust on the floor. He was always sloppy, but this is a new level. It drives me crazy and I wonder if it is contributing to his depression, but he refuses to clean it up. Should I just clean it up myself behind his back or hire a maid and risk angering him? I don't want to over-rule, be intrusive or counterproductive, but it's really not normal. Even if he says it's not bothering him -- and that may be true -- it bothers me having to see it and we've got a lot of issues I have to deal with as sole caregiver to both my parents. Thank you for your help in how to deal with this. (P.S. He is on anti-depression meds for a few weeks, but has absolutely refused psychotherapy. Please don't tell me to get him to a doctor, which won't happen. I need concrete strategies that I can implement without having to move a mountain.)

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I know this is late to help original poster but hope it helps others searching. You could explain to him that it is a fact that Alzheimer's patients get extra agitated when there is clutter...So you have concern for mom. Also what if he tripped over things...ask him if he would want to take that chance of breaking a hip. You know my dad has had issue because mom did it all before the Alzheimer's he tries to take care of things because he has always been neat...
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Hi folks, Oh my goodness -- for some reason I did not know how to use this website properly and never saw all your wonderful responses. Thank you all so much for reaching out to share with me. I was always so reluctant to sneak around cleaning up stuff wanting to respect my father's space. I do agree that secretly cleaning is the way to go because, honestly, he's not capable. And to the person who asked if my parents are married. YES. The secret to their more than 60 years of marriage is SEPARATE BEDROOMS. My mom always aid that royals have separate bedrooms and so do they! (And my dad snores and is not tidy.) I think I'v e been tart with my dad and so appreciate your reminders to just be chill and clean on the sly cuz he is not going to do it! Thank you to this wonderful community.
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Ok, you take better care of yourself. I will try to do the same. Love and Hugs to you.
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Cattails, Bummer is right! Whew! I sure hope you are taking care of yourself. But I won't lecture you about it because that would be the pot calling the kettle black. I missed ALL of my pills yesterday and missed an insulin shot. I NEVER miss giving my husband his pills. Bummer indeed. Let's both do better tomorrow, OK?

(And I love the idea of having my old self come and take care of me! What a good way to think of it.)
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Jennegibbs: Bless your soul. You always have such good advise and I feel bad sometimes that I don't take more time to be as caring as you in your replies. I am, however, doing the best I can and I know you will appreciate that and praise it as that is just the kind of person you are. I wish I could get my old self to come in and take care of me. She was such an organized and on top of it person. Now I am so overwhelmed with the years that have gone on taking care of everyone but me. I went to the doc today, a consult to discuss my dad. My blood pressure was 190 over 100. Bummer.
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Peewee, will you come and visit me? And sneak some of my junk out with you when you go? Sigh. I can relate to the Dad in this scenario.

I have always been extremely good at organizing things, but I am not a meticulous housekeeper. And I'm OK with more clutter than most people can tolerate. They say "cluttered desk, cluttered mind." I say, "Empty desk, empty mind." :)

But, too much clutter is too much, even for us casual housekeepers. My office is a slag heap of papers, books, CDs, unopened mail, packing boxes, and I-don't-know-what-all. It is this way because I work full time and take care of my demented husband full time and have health issues of my own and I just don't have time. And partly because I've been somewhat depressed and dealing with excessive daytime sleepiness. But it has gotten to the point where being in that room is depressing. I'm going to have to take a mental health day or two and shovel out the slag heap.

So, Villagegirl, if you were my daughter I'd be better off if you unobtrusively just got the bedroom straightened up. I don't think I'd want to be lectured about my standards or instructed about how I should do things, but, gee, if the papers suddenly were in nice neat stacks and later there were no dirty clothes on the floor, and the floor was gleaming, I think I'd feel a little calmer, even if I didn't know why.

Maybe Dad will come around to be able to keep his room a little better himself, but I'd definitely cut him some slack while he is reeling from his wife's diagnosis and the huge change it makes in his life.

Bless you for caring and trying to do the right thing.
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Yes, I agree with you, cattails, about the value of being organized. It is subjective.
Dealing with D/A is so complicated in itself, any simplifying would seem to create a more calm environment.
I did all the house cleaning from the time I was 7, so I have had a lot of practice. Once at age 9 I tried to remove a few accessories in the living room ( now, I am a designer by trade), and she just about blew a gasket. After all, I was doing all the dusting and vacuuming. haha I survived and am a minimalist.
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Does your mom still live at home? I noticed you mentioned "his bedroom" rather than theirs, so I was wondering if they are still living under the same roof. My mom has passed on and my dad lived next door to us until his stroke last July. Sometimes I would walk into his house and it almost looked like it had been ransacked. All the drawers in the kitchen open, the cabinet doors open. It's so odd sometimes as I remember as a child he wanted things tidy, but then if you looked into his garage, there was so much junk piled to the rafters. My parents saved so many things that were broken and in pieces. It's been painful to go through all of their belongings and dispose of them. It's hard to imagine keeping some of the things they held onto, but more painful to realize that those broken items were important to them. It's a reflection of how they viewed the world. Maybe a combination of depression era, deprivation and sentiment. Whose to say what is right.

I can't imagine you dad, at his age, even considering therapy. He's lived his life a certain way and it's a little late to ask for a reversal. It is what is it is, as the saying goes.

Just clean up a little at a time and understand that some people have never put a high value on keeping things clean or organized. It's their life, not yours. That's not a judgement, just a reminder that at least you don't have to live that way. Best wishes.
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PS: village girl, yes, I think the depression has led to the messiness, but often the state of a person's office is a reflection of their mind.
Most important is to provide a safe, clean environment, with fresh food and clean clothes, right? Sometimes you can get ripped off by hiring a cleaning company--they flit around with a feather duster and that's about it. Also, both your parents may not trust a stranger in the house, as dementia often displays paranoia.
I remember my Mother's husband getting furious that I was cleaning the dog hair from behind the refrigerator one day--and that dog had been dead for 10 years!!!
But I did it anyway. Some of them do not grow old gracefully, as we shall.
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Are you living with them or just coming in daily to manage things? There is only one thing to do: Simplify and Declutter. Keep about 10-20 complete outfits for each of them and get rid of the rest. ( winter and summer)
DE-accessorize. Pack with paper or bubblepack those items determined to be "valuable" and toss the rest or have a garage sale.
His papers are a different story and I would not touch them at all.
Clean out the fridge and pantry once a month, check for expired foods.
Throw out all old underwear and just buy new ones. What a difference!
All newspapers and magazines before last month: GONE.
Oh, just thinking about it reminds me of cleaning up the house my Mother shared with her last husband. They both lived through the Depression and saved every thing you can imagine. CRAZY!!! Thankfully, early on I discovered "Stuff" does not make one happy, it distracts from an organized environment.
Lastly: do not make a big deal of any of this. Be covert. It is thrilling. heehee hugs
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Hi village girl,

Based on my experience, clean it up yourself, but not all at once. His role now is overwhelming him and he needs a helping hand. I have walked into my MIL's apt and swept up unwrapped foods and garbage . . . just not when she is watching. My husband has swept the entire top of her desk into a bag (while she observed) and promised to sort and return it. He did bring back the essentials categorized and filed and labeled. The vast remainder got tossed. Between us, we have removed empty pill containers, expired food, refrigerated science experiments, etc. There are 4 other siblings and none of them remove a paper clip. She is drowning in stuff --- clothes that are stained, ripped and no longer fit, gifts and gift wrapping, books and magazines. I feel it is a disservice to leave things unaddressed. BUT it's small steps. One load of laundry at a time.

Now that it is tax season, can you help get the paperwork together and be ready to toss unneeded items? I never visit MIL w/o a few reusable grocery bags. I leave them near the door and toss things in when I can. I revisit everything when I get home so I don't destroy needed paperwork. If you saw my MIL's apt you'd think no one had ever taken anything out. We have filled the back of our SUV 5 or 6 times with her things. Meanwhile, the 4 remaining sibs have tea and cookies when they visit and walk out the door leaving the garbage for us to handle. OOps, sorry for the rant : - ). Hope this helps.
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