My nearly 94 year old mother has lived with me for 12 years until she suffered a stroke in September and has had to reside in a Nursing home due to her being a risk at home alone all day while I work. I'd like to note that even though I have 3 siblings, I get absolutely no help. Never did. I'm also divorced so no hubby to lean on. My mother will never come back home and I think she knows this now, even though in the beginning she wailed about coming home. I had her doctor tell her this is not possible. I visit her VERY often, at least 5 times a week which includes a shopping outing on Saturday and spending the day at my home on Sunday. She walks, feeds herself and uses the bathroom but her speech and cognitive skills are very poor. My problem is this: I would really like to have my house back but she has several pieces of furniture that are keeping me from bringing my things up from the basement. I have no problem getting rid of these things but I worry about her coming over and seeing her furniture gone. I'm sure it would be upsetting. On the other hand, I really want to see my furniture back in place. Not to mention the basement is damp and musty. She has her reclining chair and a bureau at the home and that's about all she can fit. My question is this; how do I approach the subject in a gentle way? Do I ask permission to remove the items or just do it and say something kind like; "It's in storage"? I'm thinking of asking one brother to say he needs some starter furniture for his daughter. At least she would think it's still in the family....please note, none of this stuff has any monetary value. What do I do?

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I would tell her that one of the sibs asked to keep the furniture for mom or a loved grandchild is using it and enjoying feeling close to grandma -- or similar fib.

Go ahead and get rid of or donate to a church or other organization -- provided there is no chance of mom returning to live at home.

Start taking her to places outside your home, museums, libraries, quiet coffee houses, etc -- so that she isn't reminded of "her old home" nor her belongings missing.

Always hard. My mom is in Memory care and refused to allow me to bring anything personal over for her (she's "not staying"). We gave away all furnishings, treasures, household items, recycled or disposed of the rest; and sold her home. Mom's been at memory care nearly a year and asks all the time about her home and belongings - I tell her, its all still there waiting for when she returns and her doctor and lawyer check on the house for her...Crazy. But keeps her happy knowing that all her "home" is in tact.
Helpful Answer (22)

My mother went ballistic when I wanted to sell her car so I could use the underground parking here over the winter. (There's no outside parking nearby - my vehicle would have been parked 2 blocks away on the street, at the risk of break-in every having to deal with all the snow and ice AND mom in a wheelchair....ugh.)    Even though there is no way in h*** she was ever going to drive again (she'll be 80 this year and would completely flunk the mandatory re-testing, even if she was up for taking it), she did NOT want to let it go. 

It's the loss of hope, I think. Mom has not been able to accept the idea that she's not going to get better. Also losing her car represented losing her freedom. Your mom probably still has a faint hope, however delusional, that she is going to get better and come home - and her furnishings may also represent freedom in a way....the freedom of one's own home and hearth.

If my name had been on the ownership papers for the car, I could have sold it and just said it was parked in a friend's garage, so I could use her parking spot. But I needed her signature to sell it. In this case, you don't have that issue, so you can just say her things are in storage and quietly move them to the basement or get them out of the house all together.  It might be a lie, but it's also a kindness, to not shatter her hope completely.  She's not coming home, so she's not going to know.
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I'm sure I'm being dense, but...

Your stuff is in the basement. Your mother's stuff is in the living room.

They can't just swap places?

Mind you, it would be better still if your niece really *did* need some starter furniture.

In any case. Do you absolutely have to discuss any of this with your mother? Let's say, come Thanksgiving, she is well enough to come over and spend the holiday with you. She's going to have more interesting things to talk about than where her occasional tables have got to, even assuming she can call them to mind... I just wonder if possibly this whole issue is going to be more of a worry for you than it ever will be for her, if you don't bring it up.
Helpful Answer (18)

Bittersweet, one thing I learned when i was clearing out my parents home and wanted to save some the furniture that my Dad had hand-made was finding room for it.

Then someone on this forum had a wonderful idea, swap out pieces of furniture that has no special value or meaning to you. So I donated those pieces and put in their place what Dad had made :) I did that with a lot of smaller items, too.

Thus, bring up from the basement your stuff, and try to swap out some items that were your Mom's. Tell Mom that her things are in storage [therapeutic fib] but you wanted these certain items in your house as the items are so very special to you.

Midkid58, I remember when my Dad wanted to take his 200 books with him. At first I said let's narrow down the books. The standing joke was Dad had sorted out his books, he now has 199 books to take. It wasn't until later that I realized the books were Dad's "cocoon". The books gave him comfort, such as the all the furniture your Mom had in her place :)
Helpful Answer (18)

I think I would try moving one piece and replacing it with something similar of yours and see if she notices next time she comes over to visit. If she doesn't ask keep doing it one piece at a time.
If niece does not want it get rid of it. Things stored in the basement quickly get to smell musty if it is damp.
Don't negotiate it has to go. If she pitches a fit about the first piece just tell her it is all going as gently as possible but just do it and get through the melt down.
She will get over it and you can remind her that her chair is in her room at the NH. She will hopefully soon forget that it is your stuff in house.
How did this happen in the first place?
Helpful Answer (15)

Well, you know your own mother. IS she going to notice the change? Or is she more the type to just be enjoying being out for the day?

My mother notices if you move a dead plant out of her place. She has roughly twice as much furniture as she needs, but she NEEDS it all. For emotional support, nothing is valuable by any means.

Only you can decide how mother is going to react--and in reality, this is YOUR home, not hers and changing the furniture to be yours makes sense. I'm more a proactive type person, act first ask permission later, and sadly, that has caused a lot of problems over the years. I know I'd do what I wanted and then explain that her things were in storage, if she notices and asks. And prepare for the fallout.
Helpful Answer (13)

This made me think of a cartoon another friend just sent me:

My mom lived in a MIL apartment. When it was time for her to move, we just put everything in a storage unit while we figured things out. It was comforting to her to know that everything was still somewhere, and not disposed of or given away. However, we will be getting to that giving away part soon. She has dementia and will recognize things when she sees them, but for the most part it is out of sight, out of mind. But we don't plan on discussing things with her. It would be upsetting for her, and she isn't up to making any decisions anyway about what should be done with it.
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I dread moving house as daughter plans helping get rid of the "trash" Hubby is going to go berserk. He is already talking about renting a storage place and putting things in before we are ready to move. He even plans to move our firewood. DD won't stand for that.
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You know, as our parents were raising us, they were NOT always concerned about making us happy. They were concerned about what was best for us. It really is ok if we now make decisions based on what is best for them (and us!) without feeling guilty.
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FF the four-letter-word furniture manufacturer, blue and yellow, infesting every corner of the globe, may its name and memory be erased...

Anyway. IKEA supplies all its bookcases and tallboys with a little strap, a rawlplug and a screw to fix them to the wall. I have a whole collection of them! - sitting in a box in the tool cupboard. And the pencils. And the paper tape measures - which last a lot longer than the computer desks.

I'm with Vladimir Putin on this (not often you get the chance to say that, is it?) - he went on a photo-op walkabout through a hospital and told a boy whose legs were in traction "that'll teach you to look before you cross the road, then, won't it?"

In all seriousness, Darwin Awards do not apply to under 10s and tall units should always be securely tethered.
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