My Mom's a pack rat and will not let me clean out her room? How can I better deal with it?

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I enjoy having her in my home but would like to have more space. She just will not let me throw anything away? She has always been this way to the point of being a hoarder. When I took her and my father in 10 years ago, I took them in because it was getting to dangerous to let them live on their own, I was afraid their junk would kill them? Since then my father past away, but she refuses to get rid of anything of his or hers. This is my house, and I am getting burned out having to look at all the junk? I even hired a professional cleaner, but she refused to let her touch anything? Any new suggestions will help, I want to paint her room and clean it up, but she refuses even to have new nice things?

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There are several reasons people hoard things. Sometimes they are building a fortress around themselves to keep everyone pushed away. Sometimes they are too lazy to do the work of throwing out or donating. Sometimes they feel that things may be useful later. And sometimes they assign a sentimental value to things, so it seems like getting rid of them would be like throwing the past away. It sounds like your mother may fall into this last category of hoarders. If so, it will be very traumatic to her for you to just start throwing things out. She would see it as the ultimate invasion and betrayal. You'll have to work with her on deciding what can be donated, discarded, or kept. If you want to try to work with her, be prepared for the anger and anxiety that goes with it. Anyone who has gone through it knows the anger and anxiety that can split a family if they don't know how to work through it.

Since your mother seems to have a sentimental attachment to things, you may want to use a step-wise method. Do you have an area that can serve as temporary storage? You can move the items to the temporary place in order to get the area cleaned -- or that is what you can tell her. Then leave the items in the temporary place until she will no longer miss them. Then you can use your judgment about what to do with the items. I usually can figure out what would be missed if I got rid of it. If it won't be, I donate or discard at the right time. (Yes, I'm the daughter of a hoarder. We live in her house, so she is the boss.)

Another thing I've found to be handy is to enlist the aid of my brother. I gave them all of my father's old clothes in the drawers. Mom didn't mind them having them. Of course, then they can decide what to donate, discard, or keep.

There will be some things that have such value to the person that they can't be discarded. These things are associated with who they were at one time. My mother's identity is tied up in her old clothes -- lots and lots of them. I figure these key things can stay until after she is gone, because it would be too traumatic for her to get rid of them.

Good luck working through this to your peace of mind. It is an emotional experience for all involved. :-O
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^ Yes! I did throw out 1/2 of the newspapers that Mother was keeping on her bedside time. She never missed them.
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What would happen if you took your Dad's stuff out of the room? Your Mom would get angry? OK. You can probably live with her being angry for a couple of days. Keep in mind, this is YOUR house.

We had the problem of hoarding with our parents when we started caring for them in their home. Not only did all of the STUFF make me claustrophobic, but it was dangerous. We tried to get them to allow us to get rid of things that blocked walkways and doorways, but the idea of anyone touching their STUFF produced extreme anxiety. My sibs and I tiptoed around this problem until one night I just couldn't stand it. After they both went to bed I started removing things that were blocking doorways and creating a fire hazard. I took them out to the curb and left them for either the trash collectors or garbage pickers. (By noon the next day everything had been taken by "treasure hunters.") When my parents got up in the morning they noticed the stuff was gone, but I told them I put it in the basement. They'll never go down there, and after a couple of days they forgot all about it.

Now that we know this technique works, we all do little "midnight raids" to get rid of old magazines, broken appliances, old clothes, etc. We don't take things all at once, and we don't take valuables. I know it's sneaky, but once the stuff is gone they forget about it. I can't make them not have dementia or want to hoard, but I can make their house safe.
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That is very difficult. My mother wanted to keep a couple of dead plants and deflated balloons in her nursing home room. We told her we were taking them to her house.

But, in your own home, and none of the above suggestions will work for you, you need a plan. The stuff from your dad, definitely needs to go. Can you enlist someone to take your mom out of the house, while you clean? You would have to tell her, but what is the alternative?
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Thank you, she is in her late 70's, I can not just leave her room in this way, its a health issue. I do believe she is showing signs of dementia? She has tripped a few times over her stuff, and not hurt herself so far? But I am afraid she can get hurt if this goes on?
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Yes leave her room alone as long as she does not have unwelcome visitors in her junk. Anything not in her room is fair game and can go out the door. Take it to her room and ask her where she wants it and if she says leave it where it was tell her you are not going to allow your house to be turned into a hoarders paradice. Make sure there is nothing important in the pile then out it goes.
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If she is quite elderly, and the hoarding is just in her room only, might as well leave it that way, as long as she's not hoarding old food.

There always seems to be something dramatic in a hoarder's life that makes them want to surround themselves with *things*, like a safety cocoon, and taking any of it away could cause a lot of difficulties..... you need to weight the pros and cons.
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Hoarding is a mental illness. The hoard is the symptom. That your mom didn't let the professional cleaner accomplish anything is not a surprise. All of her "stuff" is a coping mechanism (an unhealthy coping mechanism). Your mom would have to learn new ways of coping with her life and develop healthier coping mechanisms in order to agree to get rid of her stuff and even then there's no guarantee that your mom would go along with it. And people our parent's age aren't likely to go into therapy.

There have been a number of posts here about hoarding. Do a search and see if you can find some kind of solution. My advice would be to throw things out when your mom's not looking because she's not likely to agree to or assist in helping you.

https://www.agingcare.com/articles/how-to-stop-alzheimers-dementia-hoarding-behaviors-133679.htm
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Hoarding is a mental illness and often seems to go along with depression and earlier loss, like a loved one passing or divorce or losing "stuff" when they were young. You don't say how old your mom is, but after watching lots and lots of the 'hoarder' shows, it seems like the older the person is, the harder it is to get them to make any changes - even under the threat of losing their home.

If it was me, I'd start with seeing if your mom needs some treatment for depression. Then I'd start to set some house rules, since she's living in your home. You have every right to expect her to clean up her area and keep it clean. Start small and take baby steps with her. Or ask her to move somewhere else. It's a tough, tough problem to deal with.
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