I am trying to help an old friend but she will not get rid of anything. Any advice? - AgingCare.com

I am trying to help an old friend but she will not get rid of anything. Any advice?

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She needs to move into a safer location. So she has to pack and sort her stuff...... she will not get rid of anything!! The treadmill...... she barely walks with a cane..... the sewing machine... she can't see to use it..... the thousands of books she can't read.... piles of newspapers......etc...... How can I help her??

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Or putting those objects into storage... Then slowly ditch stuff. Sometimes it's easier to let go of things you don't see on a daily basis
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I agree: make a practical list of objects that will have an orderly place in her new home - nothing gets onto the list unless you know where it's going - and ensure that there are boxes available to shift them. Then, when it comes right down to M for Moving Day, you may find that the best thing you can do to help your friend is take her off for lunch somewhere and keep her out of the way while professional packers get on with it. Then continue to distract her by pointing out pleasant views of the new place, and noticing strategically-placed favourite objects, so that you don't give her time to dwell on what's missing or what she's lost.

But unfortunately, if your friend is like my mother, the truth is you are on a hiding to nothing. She's going to be in a foul mood about it for a while, and you may just have to sit on the ground and sigh alongside her. A friend in need...
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I have read that hoarding, if that is what she has, is a mental disorder. It usually takes a mental health professional to address those who are seriously effected. My grandmother had to part with many piles of newspapers when she moved into a house my dad bought her many years ago. It was an upgrade house, so she bit the bullet, but most people who are really effected find it almost impossible to let go of stuff.

Have you ever watched those hoarding shows on tv? I might watch a couple of them to give you an idea how the hoarder thinks. It's really very difficult to get them to part with things that are completely worthless. I do understand not wanting to part with a sewing machine or family heirlooms, but old newspapers? Are there any family members who might want to take some of the items into their homes to pass on to their children?

Good luck.
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I think the easiest way to downsize is to first plan which things she actually needs in her new place, second gather up pictures, heirlooms and sentimental pieces, and then to leave all the rest to one of those businesses that specialize in cleaning out estates. Chances are you will never miss that stuff that has been packed away for 20 years, unless of course you open the box first, then you won't be able to part with it.
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Adding that I think sometimes just parting with something that's been in the family for decades is traumatic. She may look at the sewing machine and think of clothes she made for her children, herself, and how it's been such a valued piece of equipment over the years. There's a lot of sentimentality attached.
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Could you convince her that by donating to a veterans or thrift organization that she's actually helping others by sharing what she can no longer use? Sometimes just knowing that others can benefit makes the donations easier.

On the other hand, if she still believes she's going to use them, that's a lot harder. I haven't found a solution to that.

A sneaky way of doing this is to tell her that she can't take everything and will have to store some of the items in expensive off site storage. The cost of storing on a long term basis might be a detriment.
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Lizzy, I just moved my Dad from a large house into a 2 bedroom apartment in a retirement community. Good grief, he had about 200 hard back books, and my standard joke was that he had whittled it down to 199.

The only way he would give up some of those books is when I said he is paying the movers by the hour, and moving so many books will be expensive. He could save some money by not taking all of them. Thus he started to toss some of them, like his college text books from the 1940's.

But Dad wouldn't part with his two sets of encyclopedias, one dated 1960 and the other dated 1924. I know how hard it is to part with books, especially very old ones from the 1920's, but those books were falling apart thus not usable any more :(
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