How do I help tidy up my elderly parents home without a confrontation?

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I'm facing the problem that my parents (both in there 70's) live in a very cluttered old country house. Though my parents have been wanting to move to town for years, there is always an excuse as to why they can't (mortgage needs to be paid, we need to clean house before we sell it, what to do with the dog, etc.). It costs a fortune to heat the house in the winter and there are so many repairs needing to be made that can't be fixed due to a low income. We've tried tidying up the house but it's very difficult. My dad doesn't know how to clean up after himself (he was a bachelor up until his 40's and just drops his clothes, lottery tickets, etc. everywhere). My dad does most of the main things like yard work, laundry and cooking for him and my mom, but feels he does not have to clean up after himself around the house. My mom is due for another hip replacement later this month. She still works (though it has decreased dramatically in the past couple of years), but due to other recent surgeries and heart problems she can't do much around the house. I am an only child but I've been living in town the last few years, going to college and trying to find employment. I've tried cleaning up the house for them many many times, but my mom has so many "sentimental items" that she gets mad at me if I try getting rid of any of the clutter (yet they complain about the clutter all of the time). This is also with items she hasn't worn, used, read or looked at in over ten years. If I mention the clutter or ways to try to improve it at all my mom immediately snaps at me. After her surgery she's going to need more room in the house for mobility reasons, however in order to tidy up the house at least 50% of the clutter will have to go. I am at a loss for what to do. The other problem is with my extended unemployment I will have to move back in again. I'll have to be here more after my mom's surgery anyways, but every time I move back there I get extremely depressed and my asthma kicks into high gear. It seems all of the house cleaning is left to me because my parents won't do it, yet with the issue of my dad throwing his stuff everywhere everyday and my mom refusing to get rid of anything (except actual garbage), it's a never ending battle.

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So hard, my mother's exactly the same. Not actual dirt, not actual serious garbage, just too much junk that only she would consider important - and it makes housecleaning hugely more difficult and time-consuming and takes up space. Phew. You're right about your mother's being afraid of things "going walkies", I'm sure - it's the definition of what qualifies as "sentimental value" that's the problem! Does she really think people would steal from her though? - or that they would ignorantly throw important things away? Let me know if you find any breakthroughs! x
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It's not at hoarder level like on the show "Hoarders", but it's still bad. Some of the clutter around the house is excess furniture that there is no room for, but is "used for storing stuff so it can't go". Even some of this furniture is blocking one of the doors leading out of the house, but there is no room to move it elsewhere without it blocking a walkway. Thankfully dishes are cleaned daily and vacuuming, sweeping and dusting gets done every so often. However when our wood furnace is first started in the fall it moves around all of the dust that we can't get to, which activates my asthma. As I stated I'm an only child and I doubt my parents would want our neighbors to help. I've suggested this before but I think my mom's afraid of "sentimental" stuff being stolen.
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Ohmygoodness! You've taken me straight back to the Great Envelope Incident of 2010. My mother is a clutter magnet. When we moved in together to our new home, her furniture removal lorry got pulled over at a weighbridge and was 1 tonne overweight - most of it in paper. I cajoled her into sorting out files "just one at a time, so you'll have more space." Within the hour it broke down into tears (her) and shouting (me, I'm ashamed to say) about an ordinary manilla business envelope, empty, used, doing nothing, not looked at or touched by her in thirty years, that I wanted to throw away and she said "this is my life you're talking about." I watch "Life Laundry" on t.v. and weep.

I don't know what you do. It's appalling, I so so so sympathise with you. Do you really have to move in, is there no alternative you can think of at all? Any siblings or bossy but lovely helpful neighbours you can call on? Maybe your mother's healthcare team could do a home visit and say "doctor's orders - all this stuff has got to GO by Friday?" Get help, good luck xxx
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