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Mom's room is a mess because she's depressed, and she's depressed because her room is a mess. She takes antidepressant, but I don't think the dose is high enough to help much. We went through so many that she couldn't tolerate that it was great just to have one she could take. It helped a little bit, but I need to talk with her doc about perhaps increasing the dosage. She normally lives with me but right now is in the SNF for her 3rd round of pneumonia this year. She won't let me touch a thing in her room, where she has literally a 3 bedroom house's worth full of furniture. There are papers stacked everywhere that she won't let me discard (oh, I have to go through that stuff first) and she prints out tons of stuff from websites "for reference" that is also piled up. It's so crowded that it's impossible to dust or vacuum and that can't be good for someone with respiratory difficulties. She simply doesn't have the strength or focus to move or sort through any of it, yet she won't let anyone else touch it. It's not quite to the point of being a fire hazard (thank God she doesn't smoke anymore) but I do worry about her tripping and falling when she gets home. Should I ignore her and just clean the mess up anyway? There will be hell to pay...any suggestions would be welcome.

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Progress, progress, progress. It takes time. Sounds like you are doing a geat job. Before you know it you will have make a big dent if you keep at it. Sometimes I think clutter is sign of our state of mind. So amicable you have my best wishes in this project. Keep on pushing.
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I dicussed a little bit of it with her today, and although she worried about a few things, she seemed almost relieved...I had made a little progress...all her clothes that were 3 sizes too small went and now half her wardrobe is empty enough to stash some of the stuff that's in the middle of the room. I literally do not have time to do 5 or 6 boxes a week, but hey...any progress is a step in the right direction. I think she's getting too weak to fight about it much anymore...there are certain things I know she would be devastated if I got rid of, so I try to respect that, but goodness...enough is enough. I want to be able to get up there and clean at least once a week so it's livable...can't even begin to dust and vacuum till there's room to do so!
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I was Cinderella in my house. But I did all my work in am so there would be no interferance. From that habit I learned that to get rid of excess junk which is almost imposible I had to get up early and take it to street corner. If I put it out front she'd discover it and bring it back in. Even now certain old crusty things she keep puttin out on table or sink I throw in garbage she takes out I do this couple of times then I make it disappear. I dont even get asked about it. But if I did I wouldnt have a clue as to what she asked me. reverse psychology.;)
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Correction. I meant to say sort through 5-6 boxes per week, until you get through it all.
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Oh, I see. She's in your home with her things in her bedroom. If she pays rent or a substantial amount to live there, I might be more hesitant, but if not, I'd have to make a change in the hoarding room.

Since you say that she won't discuss the hoarding problem with a counselor, I'm not sure how much success you will have with getting her on board. There are all kinds of ways to take things out when she's not looking, but eventually she's going to see that her room is clear of most of the clutter. You may have to just put up with her complaints. Is she competent enough to take legal action for disposing of her property? I'd keep that in mind. You never know.

I think I would consult with a mental health professional about it. You want to be sensitive, but most hoarders just are not able to let go. It's a process and not resolved quickly. I might take time to sort through 5-6 boxes of her things and distribute them as I saw fit. Obviously, keeping valuables and even displaying many of her favorite things in her room so she can see them. What if you tell her you need to paint the room or fumigate? It'll be a reason to get the stuff out.
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Mom's room is Mom's room. If she's competent make sure she knows the hazards of falling. You could try" The Dr said all this stuff is causing you to get pneumonia" Does she still think Drs are God? As far as the garage is concerned give her the alternatives of it goes or you rent a storage unit which you said she can't afford.
Could you use any of her kitchen stuff and get rid of things that are yours but in worse shape?
Tell her there is no argument a garage sale is on the horizon and the stuff in YOUR garage is on it's way out. Again if her stuff is better than yours swap some of it out which will make it less painful. Soft goods like clothes and blankets stored outside will likely be moldy by now so they definitely have to go.
Piles of papers I am afraid you will have to go through before you toss them because there will be stuff mixed in that is important but 20 year old bank statements can go. Just be on the look out for things like Insurance policies but the vaccination records of long dead pets she won't miss. You will have to be sneaky and make sure she does not catch you and be prepared for the wrath if she does. "My house my rules" "Shape up or ship out"
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Lots of people here have had success with "storing" their LO's belongings in what are actually empty boxes up high.
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"when she gets home" - so she goes out?
Do not do any kind of cleaning that a VERY observant person will see...
My mother was the same way (hoarder) I couldnt do anything in front of her, but I could bring her lots of empty boxes- Then later when she was gone, I would remove the contents of one of the boxes. She wouldnt be able to identify which were empty and which were full, so she never noticed I had emptied one once in a while- Leaving the box there like it was.
Perhaps you could have her put the papers into the boxes and store them in your garage?-
How about making one kitchen item a month disappear? I did that with my mom.
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Oh, and I understand about the stuff making it hard to clean. Add some quilts to the rug/carpet in your mother's room and it sounds like you have my mother's room. It is impossible to clean and disturbs my mind so much.
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amicable, I know exactly how you feel. I live with my mother and her bedroom is a nightmare. There is so much furniture and clothes that fill two rooms and three closets. There are quilts on the floor to keep the "air from blowing up between the cracks in the floor." There are hundreds of shoes that look like dogs have chewed them. Stuff piled here and there, garbage on the floor. I clean a bit sometimes, but then Tornado-Mom comes in and it's back to chaos in a day. I know the agony you are feeling. It would be worse if it were my house. I would be beyond consolable. My mother is like yours. She doesn't want me to touch any of her stuff. It took a lot of work just to clear the main part of the house. I will probably have to get a hazmat crew in to clear her bedroom and adjoining room. It's awful.

What I did at my mother's house is clear the hoards of stuff from the rooms that I frequent. I totally ignore her bedroom now for the sake of my own sanity. I realize that I am as important as she is.

The only thing I can advise is about your garage. You have to regain your own space. There is going to be anger and anxiety clearing the area. She will not want to give up the idea that she will use these things again one day. They are a symbol of the life she once had -- like my mother's clothes are to her. What I do with my mother's things is sneak out the things I know need to be disposed of. They are never missed. In the case of your garage, I would make it faster and say the stuff has to go. Ask her if she wants a garage sale or to donate. It will not be easy, so I don't envy you.
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It's not that the papers are bad enough to be a fire hazard, it's just that that it's stuff she doesn't need and covers all available desks and tables so you can't dust. She won't fall for the fire marshal thing...that simply doesn't happen where we live.
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Not to mention that she would not part with any of her kitchen stuff when she moved in, and has it all stored in my garage, so I can't even use my own garage space. Grrr. And she obviously doesn't cook much any more.
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Amicable, what you described sounded like my Dad's home office. Reams and reams of paper Dad would use to print off things "for reference", using both sides of the paper, each side a different subject. As he and Mom aged, items weren't being filed in filing cabinets, just piled high in in/out boxes on their desks. Then I found boxes in a spare bedroom and boxes of paperwork in the basement.

Dad didn't want me to touch any of the papers, either.... [sigh]. The only way I was able to sort through stuff was just take a pile of papers when he wasn't looking, turned out he never missed it.

You can use a therapeutic fib... tell her a Fire Marshall went door to door to check smoke alarms and had noticed that her room was a fire trap. She needs to "relocate" items elsewhere. One thing I noticed with my Dad, he loves being surrounded by his books even though he rarely looks at them.... the books are like his cocoon.

For your Mom tell her you will take out some of the larger furniture and replace it with bookcases so she can store her papers. You can get inexpensive bookcases at thrift stores.
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Wait, Sunny, we're getting derailed here, lol. No...it's in her room at my house, she normally lives with me. SNF is what we hope is to be a temporary stay. She has been to a counselor, but won't talk about the "stuff". She lives with me, we have very little closet space, so nowhere to store a bunch of bins unless we pay for a storage facility. NOT doing that, as neither of us could afford it and she wouldn't go for that anyway because "I couldn't get to it if I needed it". Her room is pleanty big enough to hold all that she really needs and more. In her MIL apt part of our house, she has at least 600 square feet of space that includes a very large closet!
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She's got all that stuff piled up in her Nursing home room? I can't imagine. Why would the place tolerate that? They have to work in that environment. It sounds like hoarding and that kind of thing is often considered a mental health matter. Can they get her a counselor consult?

Everyone has their idea of how to handle hoarding and I don't know if any one way is better than the other. You could consult with a mental health professional to get an opinion.

I think that I might tell her that I was going to pack her things in bins for safe keeping, until she was able to sort through them. Then, I'd place them in bins and either store it in her house or discard some of the items that are not useful. It's unlikely she will remember every single article. If she refused, I might explain that the dust bothered me and that in order to continue to visit, the place had to be cleaned. It's unlikely the argument that it's hurting her COPD will help much, though, it's certainly true.
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