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My mother rearranges her bedroom every two or three weeks. I used to help her sometimes, but now I don't see much point. I just let her do it. I do wonder the why of it, though. She'll arrange it one way, then back the other. It goes back and forth with no sense to it at all. I don't ask why anymore, because I'll either get an answer that makes no sense to me or she'll get angry.

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Awwww Jessie gal you have got your work cut out for you and I KNOW you can't throw stuff out if she just hoards for the hell of it and especially if she is a me me me person too. I also know she can't help it. Would she let you tidy one room if you promised not to throw anything away? Even one corner of one room - just to show her what could be achieved?

We used to live next to a hoarder and her duaghter eventually managed to get her to agree to clearing a tiny space about 4 feet by four feet. The daughter put all the trash in one bag for her mum to sort through in another room and she gave her 3 bags in boxes - One HUGE KEEP box because she knew her Mum wouldnt throw squit, and two others for the donate trash but it kept her busy while daughter cleaned that area. It did seem like she would never achieve anything and I thought she was just shifting from one place to another but eventually she got her mum to sort the keep box into clothes/toys/whatever and managed to box those all into separate boxes. Yes she ended up with floor to ceiling boxes in two rooms but the rest of the rooms were clean and tidy. Of course some things dont change her mum wanted to live in the room with her boxes and opened one every day emptied it and repacked it!!! But it was once again a home albeit of sorts.
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Jude, sorry child, but it would never work with my mother. That isn't to be negative, but I know the lady. She won't listen to music, but Lawrence Welk, and she'll want to select her own project. If I gave her a project, she wouldn't do it out of spite. :) That is her. What I do is just let her do what she wants as long as she's not hurting anything.

She told me today the reason she moved the chest of drawers that it was keeping her from getting the air conditioning from the vent (wasn't blocked). She said her room got hot at night. I asked her if that might be because she got up and turned the air conditioning off at night. She said she never did, but of course, I know she does it every night. I have to turn it back on in the morning. I told her that someone was turning it off, so it must be those gremlins again.

I have tried to work with her to get her to dispose of some clothes using the "Keep, Donate, Discard" method that usually works so well. I think she resents having me involved in it. The only times she has donated clothes was when she worked alone in choosing what to donate. She is a hermit, so this isn't unusual. She likes to do things on her own and hates being told what to do. So I let her do things that seem harmless enough and just watch from the outside. We have to pick and choose what works for the individual. Mom is just not a team player and never has been.
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JessieBelle I have been on the phone tonight to a dear friend of mine who trains people in how to care for the elderly mentally frail and that includes but is not solely about dementia. I asked her about this moving about of stuff and then moving it back. She had this to say: Despite all their protestations noone actually knows what is going on in their minds. that said if you do by process of elimination, by chance or by guesswork using their personal history manage to tap into their focus then life becomes easier because they will spend hours and hours shuffling to and fro the things they need to.

Now P also said don't stay with them unless you absolutely have to because it will drive you to distraction (no S%^& Sherlock!!!) Apparently it is best if you have a room ( and I sure as heck don't) but it is better to have a dedicated room with a table and some form of facility to play music. Then put on music from their era, give them the things they like to do and set them a task. If you have tapped in they will spend a very long time engaging in the pastime.

P asked one lady if she would be the librarian and catalogue their books for them. Every day they plonked the books back into the box and every day she took them back out and put them on the shelves and she didn't tire of doing so. P said for a lady who had never been particularly focused on anything she became totally absorbed in the task.

Food for thought at least - I dont suppose there is a chance in hell if she won't get rid of things that she would sort them into piles so that you could box, label and store for a later removal? I'm sure that isnm't going to fly but thought I would put it out there
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Jessie, oh good heavens, I watch those hoarder shows and am amazed at what people will keep. I can kinda understand those who have good stuff piled everywhere, especially the older persons who are the children of the Great Depression... never throw out something you can use later.

Thank goodness for places that take donations of good items. For my Mom, her idea of downsizing stuff is donating one knick knack at a time.... mainly once a year. Our hospital has a Ladies Board that has a rummage sale every fall, so that helps for me to get my parents interested in donating a few things, as my parents had volunteered at the hospital for decades.

Sorry, Dad, no one wants an old tube computer monitor... yes, I know it still works. Yes, that AM/FM transistor radio is nice even though the FM doesn't get a clear signal, but people use other technology now a days.

I can understand getting rid of things isn't easy... I have my issues myself where I will place an item in a box filled with things, it gets typed on the list, the box of stuff goes out to the car, and will I reach in the box to remove one item that I just can't part with right now.
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Jessie when you say pans do you mean saucepans? If so an idea for anyone who has ancient non useable pans. You can put up a shelf with hooks underneath. Then rub down the pans and spray them with pretty colours (just the outsides) then hang them onto the hooks insides facing the wall - if you have enough you could make a pretty effect on the wall.

Or they make great plant pot reservoirs if you take the handles off again you can spray to match decor.

If you have an old pot holder you can fill the pots with soil (make sure you drill holes in the bottom first) put strawberry plants in and have a wall of strawberries.

Failing that I just wish you well babes - it's going to be so hard to get that lot sorted. But like eating an elephant - one piece at a time.
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BTW, the swing looks great. I did a good job, especially considering I had never done anything like that before. It is a big wood-frame swing, so a lot went into it.
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All good ideas. Shmoo and Jeanette, your words brought lots of comfort. This week I donated two mornings finishing the yard swing that Mom had scraped some of the surface off. It was a big swing that had to be cleaned, stained, and sealed, so it was no small task. It still has a bit of retouching to do. The craziness is that no one uses the swing anymore. Mom said she plans to use it after it had all the stains removed (it's old wood), but I know she won't. She doesn't like to leave the house anymore. She dreads interacting with people, so stays inside where she feels more control, I'm sure.

Jude, a hoarded house is a big problem. The thing that gets me the most is it is impossible to clean. When I first came here 5.5 years ago, the place looked like one of those places you see on TV, with freezers overflowing with old food, counters stacked to the ceiling, and boxes and stuff piled on the floor. I wish I had done some before and after pictures. Clothes and old pans are her stronghold, though. I think they have so many memories attached to them. They were who she was. I have made a dent in them with her help, but we still have no usable closets or kitchen cabinets. They are all full of old stuff we don't use.

My father collected tools. We have tools and tools and screws and nails and more screws, nails, and tools. I sold some on eBay, but it just scratched the surface. All this stuff just breaks my heart to deal with. Dad never used the tools at home, but he bought them anyway. I have a huge tool chest in my bedroom that I would so love to see gone.

What I told my mother I wanted to do was get a big bulldozer and just push the house down. The house is left to me in the will and is worth a lot of money, but I am just losing the heart to deal with it. This house has never brought me anything but stress and problems, like a big old bogey house. I'll probably have nightmares about it when I leave.
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as people age, whether they have some form of dementia or just need some assistance, they feel their independence slipping away. Your mom is probably just controlling what she feels she still can. As cargegivers we really have to know how to let the person feel as independent as possible even if it takes longer. I know I can set the table much faster than my client but it is so important for her to feel she is still has some control in her home. If mom is safe and happy you are doing okay. Peace
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You know what I learned Jessie? It's not that I was a bit "lazy" at times or too tired to move or any rational reasons to not want to participate, it's downright exhausting watching someone go round and round on the hamster wheel! I'd watch my mom zoomies around and around and it was TIRING. Probably more mentally but hey, tired is tired.

Do we need to organize an intervention for your mother? :)
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Jessie do you have time to donate an hour to Mum's rearranging? I know this sounds like utter madness but every so often I HAVE to donate the time for MY sanity.

I get a couple of HUUUUUUGE plastic bags - I would say bin liners but you might not have a clue as to that which I am talking about. You fill them with her clothes and you bring them to her and say....Let's sort through these - it doesn't have to be clothes - mum likes to shuffle paper as I have said somewhere before.

What you are doing is sorting out clothes for the season (and dumping a whole host..... chances are she wont remember which clothes are missing - if you're lucky - when in doubt lie)

This morning it was tools from the shed, tomorrow its gonna be shoes.

I am going to get her to try on every pair and walk up and down the room in them twice (she will bloody exercise!) and then select which ones she wants to keep and which to donate to charity. her wardrobe is half the size it was and it will be a lot smaller by the time I have finished. Sunday its gonna be coats - she has dozens of em

We are moving so there is additional method in my madness but it does stave off the oh no not a bloody gain

If she wont get rid of cabinets you could always shabby chic them so they look nice - I mean let's face it you have nothing else to do!!!!!!!!!!! no no don't hit me. Hold her back ladies!

Hoarders are difficult to cope with I know but I think I might start to tell a few porkies (pork pies cockney rhyming slang for lies) like I am really sorry mum but I have had to throw x y and z out I dropped a flaming full pot of paint over them and it burst open - if need be get some old paint add water to it and chuck it on the said items for effect.

Mum has a stool that is far from safe - its a dressing table stool and she will persist in attempting to sit on it. Well I told her it needed a sponge down and blow me when I was bringing it down the stairs it fell out of my arms and smashed to smithereens at the bottom of the stairs....I was so so sorry (like hell I was) I do feel guilty a bit though because these bits of furniture could be mended and useful
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Oy, all good suggestions. I don't think any would work with my mother. She is semi-competent, so wouldn't be fooled by projects. She cooks her own breakfast and does her laundry. Her dementia is not like that I've seen described. I don't know how to say this without sounding disrespectful, but she seems more like a crazy woman than a woman with typical Alzheimer's. I feel very much on the outside. It is like watching a hamster run in its wheel. All I can do is watch from the outside. Any input is ignored and she just carries on doing what she wants to do.

We need to get rid of half the things in the house, but she can't let go of things. I sneak things out and trash them or donate when I know they won't be missed. But how would one sneak furniture out? It all has to do with the clothes. Mom could never get rid of old clothes. She would buy another chest of drawers or rack to hang them on. I've been able to get her to donate many things, but there are five closets and four racks filled with her clothes. Oh, and two chest of drawers, a couple of metal cabinets, and a dresser filled with her clothes. This is a woman who wears pajamas all day every day and only dresses to go to church on Sunday. So the answer is simple -- get rid of the clothes! and the rest will fall in place. But she can't get rid of the clothes. She says she might need them again. I guess she plans on getting well soon, so who am I to say?
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Igloo, loved the Spranos reference to the mom. If I recall the actress was Nancy Marchand (spelling?) she had a great career and played a lot of strong women. I remember her as the ugly ducking girlfriend in a TV production of "Marty" . I think Marty was played by Rod Stieger. But the Sopranos matriarch role, Good God was she evil!!
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That's right JessieBelle. You know that, but I know it's still difficult. When you don't know why they doing it, it is really frustrating. I've read that they just like to keep busy, moving their hands. A friend of mine says she gives her dad a large bowl of buttons and asks him to find the red button. There's only one red button in the bowl. He picks through each one and it takes a long time for him to find it. He may lose track, but she will remind him what he's looking for. This keeps him content for hours.

Also, have you given her a load of laundry to fold? Maybe another project would keep her away from the larger ones. It's difficult to tell what will and won't work.

My cousin loved to put things away. She could not be stopped. It didn't hurt anything except we couldn't find a lot of stuff like the remote control.
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Bad thing is that she wants to enlist my help on these projects and I know they are such a bad idea. How many days do I spend doing these crazy projects when all I want to do is yell, "STOP IT! This is crazy." I know it might not be crazy in her mind, but her mind is not working right.
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Mom got me out of bed early this morning. She said, "Help me," so I sprung out of bed. I wondered if we needed to go to the hospital. No, she was rearranging her room again and had gotten stuck. I told her to go back to bed, but it didn't work. She is still rearranging. Bad thing is that she is putting furniture in the hoarded back room that needs a serious cleaning. There is so much stuff back there that it is impossible to clean well.

Where's that helmet? I'm going to need it today.
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Perhaps her rearranging her things is a small way of controlling her environment. She is losing so many other things and deep inside she knows it. So by touching and moving her things she has control in that moment and she knows exactly what to do. Sort them. When you lose your memory and everything seems so foreign, its scary. You want to keep everything you have in order because you dont want to lose those things youve worked so hard to get all your life. Everything else is disappearing...
Just one possibility as to why.
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I should add that I am concerned the behaviors are wearing her out. She looks so tired now and has a hard time holding her head up at all when she walks. I've wondered if these things she is doing are the last she will do. She looks very close to heaven's door, she is so tired.
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Iggy, I need you to decorate for me! I love bright and pale colors and get lost in dark shadow.

You may have a point that my mother has too much stuff. She has WAY too much stuff. She has too much big furniture and too many clothes. It is something we tried to work through, but she has a hard time letting go of anything.

For the last week, she has been looking through the thousands of books in the back room. I don't touch this back room, because it is jammed with books and racks of clothes. It is impassible. I cleaned it once, but it went back quickly to the way it was. It is on the other side of my mother's bedroom, so hard to access without being noticed. Anyway... today she talked about me moving out these metal cabinets. Now, this sounds easy enough, but they would have to be emptied then hand-carted through her bedroom, which doesn't have enough room to get by with the items. The furniture would have to be moved. Needless to say, the necessity of moving those cabinets did not seem immediately great to me. They have been there for 50 years. They can stay a bit longer. :) I told her we could see if our yard man can move them.

She thinks I'm a bit lazy. I told her she would have to remember that I'm a little old lady now and not a strapping young man.

I don't think my mother is sundowning. I do know she has lost control of her obsessive behavior. It started when she began the Remeron. We are weening her off of the drug, but the behaviors are still going. They may be enjoyable to her. I AM glad she is tackling the back room, since at least that is useful.
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JB - could this be a variation of Sundowning? When mom moved from her home of 50+ years to IL, she would go through these phases of taking everything out of an area; like everything out small kitchen cabinets and pantry; or out of her closet or every item of clothing out on every flat surface. What some of this was her getting used to new environment but also as she aged she was really "light" sensitive. Her house had lots of light - prewar big windows & lots of them in all the rooms type of house; her bedroom has 5!. The IL was 2 windows and a glass door to the balcony.

A couple of things helped: torch lights set on timers and all synchronized to go on both in the morning and every night. So made no difference as to weather, the pattern for light & be up and awake was set. She would not mess with the torch lights either. Table lamps were NG as she would invariably turn them off & on. Then everything got bright white liner paper & I took the doors off of the cabinets and the linen closets so they had light and less shadowy area. She had these big tall deep dark cherry shelving cabinets that moved with her and they were a constant source of missing & "I've been robbed" items; got rid of those and put in a wall of narrow & shallow blond low wood bookshelves from IKEA. The torch lights came from there too. So much of this was that things were in shadow or dark wood were confusing to see what was there; or too deep that things invariably were behind each other, so she couldn't see stuff. The timers cut way back on sundowning. If you're a lot taller than mom, try to see what her perspective is for where things are. Brighter and consistent lighting and lighter wood tones did cut down on the taking everything out of cabinets so often.

Could it also be that she just has too much stuff? That she know she needs to make a decision but can't as there's too much stuff and she tries to lessen the confusion by looking at all. This may be just too hard to do but could you possibly have mom get into a "uniform"? Start to cull clothes and buy new ones in multiples so it's easy for her to get ready and look pulled together. This is hard, believe me I know as my mom had a really lovely wardrobe (acres of scarves & leather goods in sleeper bags type) but her wardrobe got to the point of overwhelming her in making decisions and started her day fretting to get ready.

Your mom's kinda OCD, right? (the coins!!!!) some of this could be that? is there anything more manageable OCD that you could direct her towards doing? For mine, I could get her to do fake flower arrangements as a project. A few containers, styrofoam and a ton of fleurs from Michaels or WallMart and voila! busy doing & redoing. Tell her they go to a church, school, fundraiser, whatever story works and then you can recycle them back a few months later on.

As a aside, when you think it's really bad, try to watch Season 1 & 2 of the Soprano's - OMG Livia Soprano the nightmare of a mother that you know is really based on reality & out there making some families life hades.
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I've seen that too and never really figured it out. Perhaps it's harking back to a time when elders were able to move things in the house to change the scenery or just create new vistas. Perhaps they see it as housecleaning, or getting rid of clutter.

I think more that it has something to do with controlling their environment, of creating an arrangement that suits them. But this is just a guess.

And it does create exasperation when the new configuration is lots of piles.

Maybe just compliment her and tell her she did a good job; perhaps thinking that she still can do some housework will make her feel good.
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I'm starting to realize that I am in over my head. I just went back to my mother's room and saw this strange arrangement of furniture with clothes, blankets, and shoes piled in heaps on the floor. What in the world??? It looks worse than it sounds. I just want to go dig a big hole and hide in it. I cannot control her.

She came in the living room and sat down, saying she was finished for the day. Oh, goodness. I don't have the spirit to try to straighten that mess again.
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