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My mom has lived in the house she's in since 1962. It is a 5 bedroom 2 bath house, and it is over flowing with stuff. As time goes by, she is not physically able to do much of anything, and she will watch me sometimes, because she thinks that I might do something with some of her things. I am wanting to possibly get someone to come into her home for a caregiver for her, but I am concerned that because of the house being so cluttered, that they may not be able to help. I am at my wits end, and I don't know what I can do.

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When my mom is napping or goes to the nursing home for physical therapy, I take that opportunity to throw some stuff away. Try small stuff that she may not notice. Its do it now or do all of it later! I'd rather get rid of what I can now so I dont have as much to do later. My mom saves litlle bits of paper with a note on it about smthng she saw or heard on tv, etc. She saves magazines and omg so much fabric and yarn!!! Its in every drawer and closet. I donated a lot of fabric to our Mexico outreach team at church. The ladies in Mexico are sewing for a living. Win win!
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I don’t have an answer but thanks so much for your post. I am going through the exact same thing . My mom in same house since 1964. Don’t think she has thrown anything out. She gets very upset if we try and clean up. She even got upset when my brother tried to take out stuff that belonged to his kids from when he lived with her. Most of the stuff is just junk but I try and think well it’s her junk and it means something to her, just like my junk means something to me. I just want her environment to be clean and safe but if she does not see it that way at least I know I tried to see she was clean, comfortable, and safe. Good luck.
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start by getting some shipping or storing card board boxes. Let Mom do this with you by talking her through the procedure of putting things that are important to her in a box for KEEPSAKES. Label box, and place it in a bedroom that nobody sleeps in.
Look at her clothes, and see if anything is too shabby or small for her. Can she wear it, or is it too small? In she can't, tell her your "friend" was looking for something just like that. Can friend have that dress?
baby steps.. don't stress her out.
any bottles of similar product, combine them, and get rid of the empty old bottles of cleaner.
Rome wasn't built in a day. Nor did mom acquire all this stuff in a short period of time. So, you don't need to get rid of everything in a day or week or month.
Be casual about it. Do not make it a big deal.
I feel sorry for my kid... I have too much stuff, and I can't depart from things too easily..
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Donly worry about your mom's stuff.

It's hers not yours and you can do eith it what you want once she is gone.
The Caregiver you hire isn't going to care one way or the other about your mom's stuff.
If your mom has room in her bed to sleep and the halls are clear fir her to make it to the bathroom and to the dining room to eat and a path is clear to the front door then that's good enough.
TRyan having a nice visit with your mom and stop bugging her about her stuff.
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I just love the Kon Mari method - but confess didn't finish the whole job 🙁. One day...

I wish she would write a special Hoarder addition. When there is attachment to everything - that's the really hard part. Not being able to feel what 'sparks joy'. For some people it seems it is all special.
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Vicki, if you need more suggestions, you might like to check the site. Click on ‘Care Topics’ on the top right of the screen, then H for Hoarding, and you will find several 'expert' articles plus old questions and discussions about the topic. Good luck!
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Imho, there is nothing that you can do unless she authorizes it.
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Unless it's dangerous to her health (i.e. rotting food, animal waste, etc.) and is instead a lifetime of accumulated things, leave it be. A caregiver's job is not to purge their client's house nor be the housekeeper, so don't sweat that. Trust me, they've seen every living situation out there.

My dad finally realized that they had too many things, but they had very nice things so he didn't want to just call up Goodwill to haul away their stuff. He was trying to choose the home for each and every item, and of course, he didn't get a lot of takers (namely me or my brother), because we already have houses full of our own things. I would accept various items or imply I wanted them, and then get rid of them on my own after taking them home. My dad and I had a understanding that once it was mine I could do with it as I chose. He knew I was getting rid of the things, but he knew I wouldn't just toss them out either.

I finally told him that I'd deal with the rest of the house once he and my mother no longer cared -- translation: when they were gone. That finally calmed him down and stopped him worrying about finding the right home for every antique in the place. He's been gone for two years now, and I still haven't gotten rid of much, although I did go through 22 boxes of papers and found my receipt from my birth ($200), the receipt from the purchase of a set of encyclopedias (also $200), and a big pile of grocery coupons from 1994 (expired). The rest of the stuff will be in an estate sale when we finally sell the house.
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is there physical "trash" that can be gotten rid of? if so, maybe explain to her that it got dirt all of the paper and can't read it so might as well throw away.  if its clothing that is too small, maybe offer donating to someone who just had a fire, etc.  if its just nick nacks, maybe suggest putting into a box so that it doesn't get broken and mark it as such.  You might also suggest that IF something would happen and a fireman or ambulance person would need to come in and save her, they need to have space to walk around and that you just want to  put things up so they won't be tramped on.  Does she still drive and can buy stuff?  if so, I guess not much you can do unless you take away her keys if you are afraid she will get lost.  other than that maybe others have better suggestions. wishing you luck
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@Burnt Caregiver- LOL, love the idea of just tossing out the window-brilliant!! For my parents ( my husband & I have been with them for 13years) , my dad doesn't like to see things leave the house, so I get it. He spends all his time on the main level due to having his below the knee amputated. But I'm afraid to get rid of his clothes upstairs that he'll never use again, because he'll say things like, yea, my old Army jacket is upstairs in the closet. (from 1955!!) And of course my "wonderful" sister says, yes, I would like that when you pass. Really?? Anyways....
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Omobowale Nov 5, 2020
Will he let your sister take it now!? That’s what we have been doing. The minute mom has a time when she says something about gifting when she is gone or asking if my sister would like something...we have agreed the answer is YES and she quickly takes it to her car—then does what needs to be done with it!!
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If your mom has a 5 bedroom home, maybe you can use at least one of these rooms for storage?

Tell your mom what your plans are and let her watch you. Maybe you all could decide together what she should keep and what she will allow to throw away.

Whatever she decides to keep, just neatly organize them in clear plastic bins and store them in an extra bedroom. You will be amazed what a difference it makes for clutter.

SN: If an extra bedroom is not an option for storage then maybe she should invest in a storage building.
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My mom (just last week) bravely told me she doesn't want me in her apartment anymore and definitely to STOP cleaning for her. She says her place doesn't get dirty (???) and there's no need to dust all the time. Said I just threw away EVERYTHING and she needed her things around her to feel 'safe and loved'.

Fine by me, just being in her place makes me antsy and angry. She adores the junk she won at BINGO yet doesn't even have a picture of my daddy hanging up. I'm fine with never cleaning again.

About 6 years ago she was fascinated by the KonMari cleaning (which is far too brutal for a hoarder) and I worked 3 days in her place, wound up with a raging migraine, and we actually threw away one very small bag of trash. I had bought 10 large plastic bins, which we filled to the brim with paperwork and then put it in the crawlspace--she simply couldn't let anything go. It was literally painful.

Her speaking to me about never touching anything in her packed apartment was probably very hard for her, I respect that. Her piles of puzzles and books which she wants to donate to the Sr Center (she wants the social kudos that come with physically donating these things) are now toppling over--I doubt the Sr Center will open for over a year more. It's the grime and the ropes of dust hanging from the light fixtures and the piles and piles of 'junk' that get to me.

We're done with therapeutic fibs, tidying while she's out (b/c she NEVER GOES OUT)....it is what it is.

Her concept of tidy is not mine. I worry a little about the filthy birdcage that never gets cleaned, and the constant cough that breathing bird feathers and dander off of them--and the DUST. But, it is her home and I'm quite frankly just so tired of dealing with it.

Most people simply do what I do: give up on helping and just know that when your LO passes, a giant yard sale and subsequent trip to GoodWill will take care of it.
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Omobowale Nov 5, 2020
I have lived with my parents for a bit over a year. I’m signing a lease for my own apt nearby this week. I can’t wait!! They generously had cleaned out ONE drawer of a dresser when I came back to the states from an overseas job—for the sole purpose of caregiving (my sister guilt-tripped me into them needing me to live with them—what was I thinking??). We FINALLY convinced them to let me pack up some things and put it in my storage unit so I could move my own belongings. I had been told I could have 2 bedrooms. There is only 1 bath and I keep all my own toiletries in my bedroom. I ended up with a bedroom and part of a second room.

it was a nightmare to get either of them to let my sister and I help clear out. My moms W-2 forms 1955...just to start! Craft crap from church programs she “might” need. (She has 16 great grandchildren who could use it). 😳🙄🙄🙄

I can’t clean—I don’t do it right (never could). She will let the neighbor come in to help clean—SHE is good. They pay her ...but not me!! (Before I returned from overseas we had eldercare come to assist..they didn’t do anything to her liking and my dad didn’t like paying! (But it was fine for me to give up a paying job with paid insurance for US and overseas...to come back and do the eldercare)

I was “sneak cleaning” before she and dad woke up. I was using a swifter mop in the kitchen. My dad spotted the used pad in the trash and pointed out to my mom...showing her how much dirt I had gotten! He was trying to say I “did something”. She took it as a insult and had the “real” mop and bucket out AND scrub brushes!!).

An eldercare contract was suggested by my sister so I could be compensated for some of the wages I had given up. My dad actually said he “gave me” room and board and I don’t do as much as the eldercare lady! 😳🙄.

I’m done. I will come and help prep dinner and drive to appointments...but I won’t live there. I won’t do anything I am not trained to do. They have the money and can hire someone. The mental/emotional stress is not worth it!
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How about telling her a therapeutic fib? Start getting rid of the obvious junk/trash & tell her you’re taking it to storage for safe keeping. Take things you know she’ll never miss. I don’t think we should rush to assume your mother is a mentally ill hoarder-she’s been in her home for 55 years. When we bought our home, the seller was a woman who had lived there about 40 years and she was far from a hoarder but the house was packed with 40 years worth of stuff. Every room has built in cabinets & lots of closets and they were stuffed! She had to “rent” the house back from us for 2 weeks because she needed extra time to get everything packed up.
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Your mom has a mental illness that involves hoarding. Please get in to see a psychiatrist. He/She can help outline a plan of care - including days to declutter. If mom can not care for herself and her home isn't safe , then she may have reached the point where she needs to move into a residential facility.
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caroli1 Nov 7, 2020
Taarna, you are assuming much too much, I think. People who have lived in their homes as long as the OP's mother has often have lots of stuff. You really don't have evidence that she's a hoarder or that she's mentally ill. Why would you think of subjecting a mother whose getting ready to need caregivers to getting therapy in the later years of her life? As others have said, unless there's a safety issue, it really is not the OP's role to upset her mother abou t this. The OP also does not say it's unsafe. Her primary worry is whether she'll be able to get a caregiver for her mother with that much stuff in the house, or maybe her worry is primarily what the caregiver will think. After the OP's mother moves and/or dies, the OP can get rid of stuff much more easily.
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The sad thing what is valuable to you isn't to others. I hope I learned from seeing and observing, I have to declutter and get rid of things to make my life easier as I age. Also to make it easier for those when I am gone. I have provided eldercare to a few and see it all the time. I plan on giving away things to those that will appreciate it and the other stuff to Sally or Goodwill, etc. It actually comes down to the choice if you want to stay in your home as long as possible you have to make it livable as you age. Less complications. No trip hazards, less things to look after, you really don't need much. Less is more in everything, dishes, glasses, towel, bedding, you only need what you use and a few extras. The days of entertaining large family get together is gone, instead you go to their house and they do the work. Learn computers and technology so you can get goods and services delivered, Learn to use uber with your phone, etc. It can be fun and free you to enjoy your time alone and with family and friends. It will keep you independence much longer with less confusion. Maybe you can explain it to your Mom.
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Omobowale Nov 5, 2020
I cleaned out my own home of 35 years and put what I wanted in storage before taking an overseas job. I came back to the states to caregive for my 83 year old parents who have things hoarded/packed away—items from the 1950’s! Junk no one will ever want. My mother thinks it is the job of children AFTER her death to clean out (of course she did NOT do so for her parents!! Her sisters did it all). I told her I did the cleaning out of my own home because I didn’t want to burden my children.

While attempting to help de-clutter I was constantly told “you don’t understand”. “It is sooo hard to go through all this change”. (Me moving in)

I lost my husband in my 50’s...after many years of his poor health. I went through a year of cancer treatment...and sold my home two years ago.

She still has her husband and her home. She has never had any major health incident. Any time my dad has been ill she had the help of her children.

I did convince her to let me out a few things in my storage unit so I could move in some of my own personal furniture.
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Ouch. Hurts to see MYSELF in this mirror. I am only 60, I am a lifelong "keeper", to the point that I still have toys and books I got as a child, always had the best intention of giving them to my own kids, but either could not find them at the right age, or was afraid they would not take care of them and I would be hurt seeing tbe things broken. Now I have grandkids, and still cant bear to part with things. I am also a crafter, so I have tons of supplies like paint, fabric, clay, paper...third, I became the custodian of my Grandmother's boxes of family photos. Treasures going back to HER grandparents, old daggerotype photos of great great grandpa Conrad as a young man in the mid 1800's. I cant just "toss" my collected treasures, but do not know who will ever want them....
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LS2234 Nov 5, 2020
My things are organized, in boxes and plastic bins, I know where everything is. The backmost room in the house is a mess, but it is an organized chaos, mostly my craft stuff and tbe photo boxes, because the photos would deteriorate if placed in the garage. The boxes are arranged under a table, out of sight, not where they would trip anybody....The suggestion about magazines and bills being first to go? Ha, those would be the first things I would notice missing. I have magazines with craft patterns and recipes in them going back to the early 80s, all kept with the intent of "someday I will cut out that recipe, make that pattern...." I did finally, recently, start throwing away old bills, check stubs from when I worked(got laid off 3 years ago and now collect SSspouse survivor)....Guess I finally have that time for those "somedays", especially now I am no longer caregiver for Richard....Just want to share the perspective of "one of them" as to why it may be painful to let go.....
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My aunt had this problem to the point where it was dangerous for her and would have been dangerous or impossible for any first responder who had to go into her apartment with a gurney. The landlord told her she had to clear out some of the clutter or she'd be evicted. It's different with a private house, but just as dangerous, especially if there are piles. It can also be a health hazard if the piles are nesting places for vermin. Try to make paths and get rid of stuff that she won't miss (old magazines, old bills, things that don't work...). Do it when she's not there if you can. If she will notice, tell her that the place is not up to health codes and you have to make space for first responders to get to her bedroom and places where she might be. Would she feel better to have a garage sale for the items she is no longer using? Or donate them? My husband's sister made a good deal of money with garage sales when she cleaned out her garage. And she got to speak with the neighbors.
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LS2234 Nov 5, 2020
See my post above. I am antisocial to the point of paranoia, I do not even know my neighbors' names, have lived here 6 years. I know the name of the guy next door's cat, but not his or his wife. Eventually maybe I will donate things, maybe see if there is interest from a museum or historical society in the photos, but a yard sale would be out of the question for me. Too many people, strangers. I have a handful of friends other than my daughters. One just passed. Another, younger, moved to Florida to help her grandma. The remaining half dozen or so I see maybe a couple of times in a month....
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Hi Vicki, I have the same problem. Unfortunately, my dad is in the hospital a lot. I noticed that when he is in the hospital it is a good time for me to go into his place and clean out a little. When he comes back and asks what changed, I just tell him I organized a little so he/I can get to the things "he needs," better. With his memory declining, he doesn't argue much past an hour or two, and then he forgets.
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Isabelsdaughter Nov 5, 2020
Totally agree:)
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I had some luck with clear plastic bins and bags. I was able to organize the clutter and as long as they could still see their belongings, they seemed to be somewhat comfortable with the system. They were less likely to unpack the bins looking for something. Then, after some time, I was able to move the bins and bags to an area where they weren't seen every day. And from there, we were able to slowly, slowly remove bins and bags from the home.

We didn't try to clear the whole house. We cleared the areas a caregiver would need to access- exits and entrances, the kitchen, the bathroom and a sleeping/sitting area.

What we did find was that cleared areas (like the kitchen table) became cluttered again fairly quickly. So it didn't really solve the problem. Being surrounded by "stuff" seemed to provide them with some kind of comfort.

By the time we moved the last resident to memory care, we needed three dumpsters to clear the junk out of the house. It was sad.
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my parents, age 95, lived in the family home since the 1950's. A small ish ranch style. No basement really. Mom will not let go of all the junk accumulating for 50 years. A few years back my son was doing volunteer work and mention the idea of a book area that might be useful for the volunteer group/clients and would mom want to contribute? Mom says yes. I bring out a bunch of books from the shelf. She sees the books are "her" books from the 1950's paperbacks. Now says no she is not getting rid of "her" books-she would do if they belonged to dad......Mom is hanging on to as much as she can-trying to control her life=to her is out of control with caregivers and needing to depend on them do keep the house and my dad going. When dr. mentioned they should go to facility due to dad high needs-mom says no i can't leave my cats and my books. Nothing about what is best for dad......Mom keeps mountains of magazines. Has recently lost track of her purse photos-she does not remember doing something with-has accused CG of taking her stuff. Mom has let go of dad old clothes but not really much for herself which overflows the entire house now. I can not quietly fill up a bag of junk and toss it-she has accused me of keeping her stuff-when i took for repairs etc. and returned to her. Things will definitely be a gigantic mess. I do not want her stuff anyway many vultures will turn up at the end anyway and help themselves. I will not be cleaning out her house. Sibling can do it as she left the house to him.
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Omobowale Nov 5, 2020
Sounds familiar (you can read a few of my previous replies it you wish!). My parents blame each other for “hoarding”. They will give away each other’s stuff in a flash!! 🤣

I was leaving to go to Africa as a principal of a school. I had opportunity to add (for free) to a container being shipped. My mom has collected arts and crafts things for years to use at her church. I thought it would be a perfect opportunity to get her to give it all up knowing it would be well used —in a school that didn’t have the luxury of the types of things she had. At first she was enthused. Then she wanted to know EXACTLY which craft projects they would be doing. She wanted to know how the “Google eyes” would be used. She kept saying she “might need them” in the future. She finally put together one small box—mostly of construction-type paper that had been DONATED to the church!! I was so disappointed that her attachment for her things out-weighed the good her giving would have done.

Later, I returned again. We went through many of the paints and markers. All dried up and useless. Some still had the tags on them. She was so proud of the “good bargain” she got when she bought them. And now...the only thing to do with them was toss them. Some “bargain”! She paid for trash!! I’ve been reminded that she was always more interested with “things” and the “appearance” of doing good than the actually doing of good. It’s sad.
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Start getting rid of things on the down-low. Your mother doesn't have to know or see what you're doing. I had a homecare client who's house was ridiculously hoarded with plain old junk and crap. She would throw away nothing and because of her dementia, didn't even know what she had. Her family asked me to just clean up any way I could. I literally filled garbage bags with stuff and dropped them out of the bedroom window to be thrown away in a dumpster so she wouldn't see anything exiting the house. This is the way to do it. Just start throwing stuff away but don't let her see what you're doing.
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I've been w/my parent for about 5 yrs now and still don't have a closet!!! LOL. Funny but not funny. I put a rack in the bedroom to put my clothes. Tried cleaning out closets several times and she liked it all.

Now when she says she doesn't like an article of clothing or it doesn't fit just right, not comfortable, I move it to a shopping bag. When I have to pick up groceries, I move the clothes out as I leave. I even had a couple of garage sales because she liked the idea of making a little money off her stuff. Too much work for the little bit of money, but it got some stuff out.

For starters, with Christmas coming up, tell all the relatives no junk stuff to set around the house. Ask for doordash delivery type food gift cards or Walmart grocery cards. My mom can still identify things that so and so gave her and she just can't part with it. You know what kind of clothes she wears, what she likes/doesn't like, so tell them gift card and you'll pick it up. (I got tired of doing all the clothing exchanges). Also ask for hair salon gift cards (preferably a local person that will come to the house). In home nail salon person who will do nails. Or ask for specific items with item number and where it can be bought (certain type of underwear with item number, etc).

Maybe start in one room and tell her you'd like to redo it. Bedspreads, curtains, the works and point out little things that create clutter. She might be interested in helping with the revamp and let go of some things. Point out things first that didn't come to her as a gift - those might be easier to let go of. Bathroom cabinets can be decluttered without being obvious. Kitchen, too. (Except my mom can remember some little kitchen doo-dad and tell me exactly where it is!)
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BurntCaregiver Nov 2, 2020
That's a good idea bringing stuff out in the shopping bags for the store. Very clever.
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Hi VickiLouise

For some unknown reason hoarding is a problem with elders. You are not alone in having to deal with this. There are many threads on Aging Care discussing it. Here is one recently updated article that you might find helpful.

https://www.agingcare.com/articles/hoarding-behavior-becomes-more-severe-with-age-146409.ht

If you do a search for hoarding on this site, you will find many many more threads and articles.

In this article it is suggested that the caregiver seek counseling or support as it is very difficult to be the caregiver of a hoarder.

I’m glad you came to AgingCare and I’m sorry you have this to deal with.
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MaryKathleen Nov 6, 2020
I am 86 and I was born in 1934 at the end of the great Depression then WWII. Most people my age and older were marked in some way by that time. Possessions and food were hard to come by, you saved everything because you might not be able to purchase it again. During the Depression you couldn't afford food. During the war; Rubber bands? Forget it. Hair pins? Sorry, war effort. Gasoline, tires, meat, sugar, and most everthing else rationed. You had a ration book, if you used all your tickets up, too bad. My huband said his mother would purchase meat on a Friday evening because the local butcher was usually drunk and forgot to ask for the ration tickets. Most people got over it. Some people never felt safe enough to dispose of possessions. For my mother and Grandmother, it was food. Both went hungry and it marked them forever. I knew a lady from the Philippines who fed 15 kids from the garbage pails of the Japanese, during the Japanese Occupation. She had quite a story. That experience marked her in this way. Every seed she got a hold of was planted. Her daughter was always going out in the yard when Dominga wasn't there and pulled up orange, apple, pear, corn, and every other kind of seedlings.

I wish I had an answer for the hoarding, or how to make people feel safe, but I don't. Truth is, they are not safe.
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Approach it like "Mom wouldn't it be nice to let some of this stuff go. As u age less is best".

My Mom had a 4 bedroom farmhouse. She didn't use the upstairs so we started there. I sat her down and had two piles, keep and throw out/give away. After we went thru that I then took the keep pile and thru it with her again. The Facebook online yardsales are a good way to make some money.

Since cleaning out Moms I have done some of my own. If I haven't used it in the last 20 years or so I got rid of it. Mostly donated to Church yardsales and Thrift shops.
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MaryKathleen Nov 5, 2020
JoAnn29, good for you in cleaning out your own stuff too. I try to do that, after cleaning out 4 loved ones houses, I swore my kids wouldn't have that much mess when my time came. I throw out something every week,
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Is mom receptive to a caregiver coming in? Is she mentally competent? If she’s going to refuse the help and is competent you shouldn’t waste your efforts. Otherwise, would a frank talk about her advancing age and where all the stuff will be going when she’s not here anymore do anything to help her let go of any of it? (Not being morbid, none of us is making it out of here alive) If she doesn’t see that, and refuses to budge you’ll either have to give up and let her sit in the clutter alone or resort to more stealth methods. Beatty gave you one. My brother is a hoarder, we’ve cleaned it all out twice, at his request. Each time it’s all returned. I know the frustration. At some point we have to accept the choices others make, even the bad ones
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Tothill Nov 5, 2020
Dad is a hoarder and he feels like all his stuff is protecting him. It is not possible to reason with a hoarder.
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A friend was in a similar position but the clutter was hedging into hoarding territory. A sibling meeting was held & someone took Mother out for a long lunch. The rest moved stuff into clearly labelled boxes into the garage.

Yes it hit the fan when Mother returned but the deed was done. They stressed they had not thrown anything away (well... maybe a few dirty or damaged things). It was all there - just now in the garage. Now they could spring clean properly! Weren't the freshly mopped floors lovely!

There were two issues: control & inability. Didn't want to lose control of her stuff but inability to decide what to do, where to put it, what to throw out. Possibly the beginnings of cognitive decline.

The Mother swore she would move it all back into the house.... did she? Nope. Never opened a single box.

Just an idea..
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