How can we go about getting rid of all the stuff my MIL is hoarding?

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My husband helped his parents build this big house while a teen and has helped maintain it after FIL passed 11 years ago. Stress is affecting my Hubby's heart. We live 250 miles away. I am trapped here looking after MIL with dementia/parkinsons, she is demanding and controlling of all things. Some of the stuff is just pure garbage and broken. Stuff doesn't get moved in 15 or 30 years. I was trying to be respectful and not touch her stuff, She was in england during ww2 and was rationed, but the insanity of the unhealthy clutter has reached a breaking point. When we try to throw stuff away she drags stuff back out of the truck, dirty , filthy useless garbage, when we are not looking and busy. She wants to know every item that is leaving and always has a future use for it, no she doesn't/ I plan to lay down the law, I have had enough of her stressing out my beloved hubby , no more, here comes the tough love and she is going to get an earful next time she values her junk over her son. I plan to get in her face and block her movements, she will be pissed. Last year she went out of her mind when we had to throw out her extra garage fridge that totally died, and all the food was bad. Any ideas to make it easier? Is it the right thing to do?

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I'm not sure why you are trying to get rid of all her hoarded stuff. You aren't living with her are you?

My MIL is a hoarder, too, like on tv. It is a mental illness and you cannot fix it by getting rid of her stuff "for her." It will only upset her greatly. Are you worried about her safety? Do you need to navigate the house, too? Is the hoarding affecting her care?

You might look into finding a group or a psychologist to help since more and more professionals are acknowledging this very real issue. But if you are just trying to get rid of stuff before she dies just to "fix" things, don't. Leave it until she passes and then have it all hauled away.

From time to time my husband would try to clean areas of his mother's house. And it would quickly fill back up. He finally stopped for his own sanity. Yes we worry she will harm herself. But it is her life. This is not a DIY project. If you are serious about helping her and keeping her safe, get professional help for all of you.
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thanks for the helpful answers, I think for now I will just slowly and surely get rid of stuff as I can, she is becoming hypervigilant again. I snuck around the yard after midnight with a flashlight getting rid of small junk for garbage day, layering it under her other garbage in the can, she does have a reason to be suspicious - so sad its just old disgusting garbage.
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My mother is a hoarder -- the kind you see on TV. Before I moved in 3 rooms of the house were totally impenetrable. The freezer and refrigerator were bulging with a mix of old and new food. The kitchen counters and tables were stacked to the ceiling with canned foods and boxes. And there is big, huge furniture covering every wall.

Before I moved in, she hired someone to clear two rooms so I would have a place to stay. They are still cluttered and have big, huge furniture, but at least I can navigate. I learned a lot by watching Hoarders on TV -- the good series, not the one about being buried alive. That one doesn't show the psychology very well. I put their techniques to use, starting first with the food. And it worked. At first there was a lot of anxiety and anger when I started clearing. Each can of food from the 1990s was like I was ripping out one of her kidneys. Pretty soon as I was making good progress, she was rewarded by having her kitchen back. Reward is a huge part of recovery from hoarding.

I took things as they appeared appropriate. My father hoarded paper things -- medical, legal, bills. I had to wait until he died to get rid of them. Then my mother had a dining room back. Reward!

I no longer consult with her about getting rid of things. I put things that haven't been used in years into the car, then take them to donate. Her only remaining hoarding stronghold is clothes -- many closets and one room totally filled with clothes she doesn't wear. I know I'll have to wait until she is gone to deal with them. She has very strong attachment to them. Maybe to her the clothes represent who she was.

We're having some of the house painted now for the first time in 40 years. There was so much damage that had been neglected. The workers mentioned that it was difficult because there was so much stuff. I just wanted to say that they should have seen in a few years ago! Hang in there, windoverwater. The techniques you see on TV do work if you can get past the anxiety and anger.
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If you plan to start chipping away at the hoard you'll have to do it without her noticing or being a part of it. Hoarding is a mental illness and you can no more talk her out of it than you can talk someone out of being depressed. She needs therapy and medication. But in lieu of that sneaking things out of the house seems to be the best way to handle it.
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Her hoarding is logical to her, because she will never forget the Blitzkrieg she lived through. That level of horror and deprivation is permanently etched in the memory, even dementia can't erase it. So yes, you sneak things out. We did the same with mom who endured the Great Depression. When she finally moved to the ALF we filled a 10 cu.yd. dumpster, twice, with all that she had saved "just in case". We lie to her and tell her it is all in storage, or it went to family members. She was convinced that lasagna that had been in the freezer from 2009 would still be good. ugh.
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Thank you for your advice, hearing that other people face these problems is so helpful, even the comment about the coffee containers, I have to sneak around early in the morning on garbage day to put out the recycling, if she sees the bags she wants stuff back out , even cardboard, "I might need that " she says. I will use that word "nasty" it fits perfectly, she is such a headstrong personality that it is hard to get messages across to her once she is off and ranting. I have been working on my boundaries with her which has helped , now for the clean-up. I find her hoarding piles so overwhelming on so many levels, emotionally, mentally and physically. I am a very logical person and living in this environment just messes with my mind.
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I wish there was a way to make something like this easier. My parents lived in a hoarded house. My dad passed away in 2012, and we brought my mother in to live with us. She wanted to bring EVERYTHING. Maybe growing up like that is what makes me such a clean freak. I'm one of those people that everything has a place. I vacuum and swiffer DAILY, I can't sleep at night if there is a spoon in the sink (I run the dishwasher when it is full, but anything dirty has to be in there until it is). I usually do a load of laundry daily, if not more than one. I can't stand dust or cat hair. (I adore my cat, but he gets brushed all the time, and I vacuum the furniture a couple of times a week). Needless to say, combining two households was going to be hard on both of us. I had my mother make a list of what had to come..we stuck to that list, and brought all of the important things..every picture, china, jewelry, etc. BUT, even after this..here it is a year and a half later and I still here, "I sure wish I could have boxed up everything and brought it with me to take my time to go through"...uuggghhh...no, there is no way I was going to hoard up my home with boxes that I'm sure would have never been touched. She wanted to bring empty coffee containers over here. You just have to do it, like pulling off a band-aid. Clutter is stressful, and it isn't fair to your hubby to know mom is living that way. Mom wasn't officially diagnosed with dementia until this past December, but at the time of the move (September of 2012), we did have to use some tough love. We told her that other people don't live this way, and that it was unhealthy. We told her that if we didn't move her into a better environment that APS would probably have to become involved. We told her that some people living like this and think it is perfectly fine, end up Baker Acted...You mentioned the old fridge..that isn't healthy at all, the dust and dirt isn't healthy. You may have to say some things to her, that you never thought you would say. I told mom it was "nasty" to living like that. She didn't like the word "nasty". Say what you have to. I'm sorry you are going through this. It is awful. My mother lived about an hour from us, and it was a pain, all the driving back in forth to try to empty the thing out to sell. After the "hoard" is gone, you will find that the house will probably have stains and damage that you didn't realize was there. Do what you have to!!! The only real advice I can give is...BE STRONG. If someone else, besides family that cares, saw her living conditions, she would probably have a much harder time facing her.
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