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We moved mom into an assisted living facility after a harrowing spring filled with falls, inability to care for herself and several hospital stays. She is getting more accustomed to being at the AL which is great. However, her home that she has been in for over 50 years MUST be cleared out and sold. The house is in complete disrepair and is not inhabitable at this time. There is so much STUFF in this house, doors to bedrooms cannot be opened because the room is packed. I have started going through her things, throwing away items that are broken/ruined, saving letters/cards/photos and some small items. When I try to discuss this with mom, she gets extremely defiant and yells at me not to take anything out of the house. At this point, this is what must be done. She was born during the depression and I sort of understand this need to "hold on to things" but that is no longer an option. How do I discuss this situation with her? How do I explain to her that I am saving items that I think are important, but other items have to go? I have donated some of her clothing to a "Dress for Success" program to help woman transitioning from welfare to work. These women will now benefit from beautiful clothing that will help them make a great first impression on job interviews. I tried to tell her how much her donation has helped, but she continued to yell and complain. This is only going to happen again and again as I try to get through the house. I can't even imagine she actually knows what is in the house there is just so much STUFF! Any suggestions on how to discuss this with her, without it ending in a yelling match would be so incredible helpful. Thank you.

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GardenArtist, I've been looking for this type of this first hand experience advice for days. I'm going to print out your list and stick it to my wall. I still have to start and I'm already feeling overwhelmed; your post is very, very precious. Thank you!
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Thanks, FF. I had forgotten about that.

Kristie, I should have added that if you hire a company, they'll ask you for an estimate of the cubic footage, or estimate it themselves, and hire a dumpster. They arrange for its delivery and hauling away. I think it was something like $35/day when I had it done.

But that does make it more efficient to get a lot done while the dumpster is there, contradicting my suggestion not to do it in successive days. I think a lot of the cleaning depends on how well you and your family can tolerate it (it is overwhelming) and how much stuff is being thrown out.
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GardenArtist had a good idea about a storage unit. In fact, there are "cubes" you can rent which are delivered to the driveway, then that way you can put items in as you find them. Once the "cube" is full, the company will come back and pick it up for storage.
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First, don't discuss the issue or raise it unless she does, and if that happens, just agree with her. That's assuming there's no possibility she'll ever be returning to the house.

Second, then proceed to start the clearance, but for your own health and sanity, don't do it all at one time. You'll find that it's a real shock to go from stuff to empty rooms, and sometimes there are things worth saving.

Third, hire a pro; don't even think of doing it yourself. I'm P'M'ing you with a few suggestions on companies.

Fourth, don't do it on successive days. You need some down time in between. Companies understand this.

Fifth, if there are things that are "ifs" that might be worth saving, either have the company clean them or pack them in a plastic bag and put them in a storage box, inventorying as you pack. If you have a tech device that allows you to create a spreadsheet on the fly, you can try that, or just make a list and create a searchable document at home. I say searchable in case you need to determine if something specific was saved.

If you can afford it, rent a storage unit for the "if" stuff. Most in our area offer a free first month's rent. You might only need it for a few months if your mother acclimates to AL, but it also gives you a place where you can periodically go for your second level of determining how much needs to be saved. From experience, I've found that this second review is really helpful.

Sixth, treat yourself to a meal out, relaxing evening, something like that to unwind after each session. Until someone has been through this, it's hard to realize how overwhelming and disorienting it is.

Good luck.
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i believe there are companies that will come in and clear the house out for you - then you sell it "as is". I'm no where near assisted living (hopefully :) - i'm only mid 40's, but we have seen the burden years of "stuff" is. My grandmother, my father, my mother - houses bursting with stuff, apartments full of stuff - and even storage units.

My husband and i are repainting the interior of our house and as we go - we are really downsizing - books (get on kindle or library), clothes (a few things for work, a few for social life, a few for around the house), unused kitchen gadgets, extra dishes etc that relatives gave when THEY downsized, any thing in basement storage - if we haven't used this puzzle in 3 years we aren't going to!!

Doing it this way has allowed us to reminisce and donate to specific organizations in a planned manner. How freeing it has been!

But we have a 9 year old - none of his stuff is out the door. Just wait buddy....

Good luck to you! My MIL was upset a few years ago when she talked about which of her dishes/furniture SIL and I would want - and we said "NONE - we have too much already".. "OH, but it is too good to get rid of....."
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When mom had a stroke and moved from Indepenedent Living into a NH, we simply cleared out the house. We didn't discuss it.
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Ah, the cleaning out of one's parents home, that is quite a journey within itself. What to save, what to donate, what to toss out.

Your Mom is probably balking at this feat, as in her mind she is probably thinking she will be moving back in... that is quite normal to think that way.

When my Dad [90's] said "sell", the only thing I involved Dad with was the real estate paperwork. Rarely did I ever talk to him about the items in the house. The less he knew the better.

I sold Dad's house "as is" which saved me time and money from doing any updating. Dad got an excellent price on the house, he was happy :)
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