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My mom 84+ w/dementia and a host of other medical, ADL limits and psychological issues, previously lived in my house for 22 years, with me doing the one-on-one care for about last 4 years when her health declined. Before that she was independent and lived with me, my hubby and kids. She was moved to a wonderful nursing home (NH) following a 2-week hospital stay and has been at the NH for about a year now. The nursing home placement is now permanent, although she has not yet adjusted to being there.


I packed up most of her clothing and personal items; lots of things she really cannot use now: high heels, lots of cheap costume jewelry and things like old bathing suits (LOL who saves their old bathing suits?). Mom's dementia is probably middle stage, sometimes she is with it and can articulate her needs, and other times she is on planet Mars. She can get very confused and is easily upset. I do no want to ask her about her things -- frankly it is nearly impossible to discuss much of anything with her -- and I do no want to set her off which she is prone to do.


So my question is what have others done? What is a reasonable time after entering a nursing home permanently that one should consider giving away a parent's usable items to charity? There really is nothing of any value. And if she needed anything (new clothing, shoes, personal items) I am happy to purchase new items that work for her now. Having a hard time knowing when to take the boxed items to charity.

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We’ve been through this with our mother. After we got her settled in memory care with her things that she would need, we started the long process of cleaning out her house. We didn’t talk much with her about it because she still talked about wanting to go home and we didn’t want to add to her homesickness. I think it was about 4 months before we started donating things that we knew she didn’t need. It wasn’t easy emotionally to go through everything but it had to be done. We had to sell her house to help provide for her care. Now we can just focus on spending time with her and she has all she’ll need in this new stage of life. Sending hugs to you as you begin this process.
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Reply to Lov2teach
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My mom is still at home, but middle stage, THAT is another story why she is at home alone... She has been in the house 50 years. I have been purging all along. Mostly stuff decades old in storage. As far as clothing she can't wear, I would donates some at a time, giving a away winter items now is a good thing. Many agencies do not have the storage for the next season and then throw much of the donations out. I gave away coats that do not fit last fall when a local church had a coat drive, and good quality summer tops to a local thrift store in June.
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Reply to bowgirl
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Start NOW!
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Reply to Kmorel71
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You might keep jewelry and some sentimental things that would be meaningful to her in case she asks or in case you want to have a "Memory Day" every now and then.. Clothes and shoes can mostly go away. Special household and kitchen items might be kept for Memory Days, but a lot of those things can go any time now.
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Reply to RedVanAnnie
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Sohenc: Donate the items that quite obviously she would never use, think high heels and bathing suits. However, there is no need to get rid of the entire lot of possessions just yet. Perhaps she could see a piece of the costume jewelry. Use your discretion.
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Reply to Llamalover47
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Start today with the items you know she will never use - those high heels and bathing suits. Keep the jewelry for a month or 2 - in case she asks. Check in with family members if there is an item of "grandma's" that they want. Then, feel free to offload items so others can use them.
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Reply to Taarna
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Any time.
Juse make sure you save a box of her sentimental things.
I wouldn't say anything and make sure your every one else know not to mention it to mom
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Reply to bevthegreat
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In addition to the other great suggestions, I'd like to add one of my own. Gather up some of your mom's blouses and have them made into stuffed animals that can be handed out to the family members; grandchildren, etc. After my dad passed away, my step daughter took 5 of his shirts (unbeknownst to me) and had a friend of hers sew them into 3 animals; an elephant, a dog and a teddy bear, which she sent out to me and I was thrilled beyond words. I kept the teddy bear, my mother has the dog and my daughter has the elephant. Every time we look at the animals composed of my father's shirts, we remember him fondly.
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Reply to lealonnie1
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When my mom passed recently, my CNA niece took all her useable clothing to the NH she works at. My niece told me some residents at the NH she works at didn't have much in the way of clothing. The residents don't need bathing suits, but bathrobes, blouses, sweaters, and coats may be appreciated.
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Reply to CTYankeeinOR
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Going through same right now.

Mom finally in board and care facility. She will not be returning home. She was in same house for 55 years. She never threw ANYTHING out. Every drawer, shelf and closet is stuffed full. My brother and I are starting to go through stuff. What is actually trash, (old wrapping paper, magazines, old gretting cards and lots of other junk goes out to barrel.

we are sorting out puzzles, games books and a few dishes for yard sale. Saving only the best clothes for donations. Most of clothes are so worn they will be of no use to anyone.

After I have stuff sorted out that not junk I will tell family come choose anything you want. There is not much of value so I don’t foresee any issues between family.

I often struggle if this is premature but we have to start somewhere and we may have to sell house to pay for her care. It all has to be done eventually and it does not mean we don’t care. We tried to get her to do this years ago but she refused so now we have to do this and see to her care.

This is going to be huge job. She never threw out any receipt or tax records or bank statements, the list goes on. Boxes and boxes of stuff. She even kept every box for Avon stuff she bought even though the product had all been used. There is also large amounts of quilts and cross stitch pictures she was working on.

As I clean up I feel like this is freeing my spirit and soul (sounds silly) for others issue.
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Reply to Usedup1959
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If she hasn't used her things in the last year, she won't. Donate it all or if you're willing to go the extra mile, have a sale and put the proceeds into a fund for your mom in case she needs a new sweater, pjs or whatever.
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Reply to Flowerhouse1952
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Went through and cleaned out shortly after she left her home to go to ALF. Picked out the clothes that would be comfortable to wear and bought a few new things for the seasons and keep them packed up and keep at my house. Donated the rest. I switch out her clothing at the ALF as the seasons change. Its not easy having to make decisions about what to do with all of the STUFF! Especially when no one else cares what you do with it and they don't want any of it! I kept the BOXES of letters...correspondence between her and my dad while he was out to sea. He passed 4 years ago. My plans are to put them in order in the clear paper covers and place in a notebook and give to her this Christmas. So many letters from her parents while they were away...missionaries down in the island when she was in middle and high school here living with her grandmother. I thought she might like reading them and reminiscing...or maybe now it would be reading about someone else's life...I hate dementia!
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Reply to mom1958
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It is appropriate to start getting rid of stuff when you feel that it is the right time for you.

If you want to start going through it and donating now, that is great. If you feel like you are too busy with your responsibilities, or don't feel comfortable getting rid of her stuff while she is still alive, that is fine too.

Unless you are paying money for storage, or the clutter is a safety hazard, it is okay to keep it until you have the time and energy and will to take care of it.

My MIL kept my FIL's things for more than 30 years. My SIL finally donated them after MIL died. That's probably too long.
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Reply to Cynthiasdaughtr
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In regards to companies that turn fabric or usable clothing (old underwear) into new clothing or something such as insulation, there are many clothing companies that do this (Lands End, Patagonia, North Face, Levis, H &M, etc.). Many have bins in their stores or will take items at the register. Other companies have made this a business, turning old textiles into building materials/insulation or new items. Just Google textile recycling in your state or area.

Lands End
https://www.landsend.com/sustainability/recycling-project/

Blue Jeans
https://bluejeansgogreen.org

Fabric/Clothing
https://fabscrap.org/about
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Reply to Sohenc
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I would have started getting rid of stuff 1 year and 1 week ago!
I urge you not to put items in "storage"... out of sight out of mind...
Find out if there are any items that family members want. Find a good way to distribute them.
Any items that no one wants IF they are of value can be sold, proceeds to be put into an account for mom's care, or prepay funeral for her.
Donate old clothes to a local High School or local Theater group to be used as Costumes.
Donate rest to Salvation Army, Purple Hearts or other group.
Toss what no one wants.
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Reply to Grandma1954
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We emptied my mother’s place immediately when she went into MC.

There was no reason to keep things that she no longer needed. Someone else could use her dishes, sewing machine, and rooms full of crafting items.

Plus, we never know how our own health situations may change. I would suggest doing as much as you can, as soon as you can do it.
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Reply to cxmoody
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Sohenc Oct 5, 2021
Thx for all the helpful answers from everyone. For clothing items that are not usable by others (too old or who'd want it) I did find an organization that takes all these items including old linens/towels and shreds them to make insulation. So the usable stuff will go to charity and the "nobody would use/want" the tattered or outdated fabric items will become insulation. There really is nothing else (no dishes, appliances, other things) as she's lived in my house for the last 22 years. Isn't it all so weird that at the end of one's days all the stuff that has been collected just becomes a mess for others -- one's family -- to handle.
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I’d begin donating today
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Reply to Daughterof1930
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Pickup for vets
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Reply to Cover99
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Sooner the better.

When GG went into Hospice, but was still very 'with it' she directed us from the NH as to what she wanted done with things. It was hard, of course, but so nice to know that what she wanted certain people to get, they got.

Before her death, her condo was completely packed up & boxed. Her 2 out of state kids came for the funeral and took their boxes and shipped them home.

Then all mother had to do was repaint and replace the carpet. Her condo sold in a couple of weeks. It seemed hasty to mom and she had some regrets, like we were 'vulturing' around, but truth was, we had GG's say so in pretty much everything. It was a very calm and organized closure. Not so much emotion as doing all of that after she'd died.

My mom is 91 and may live forever. She has a TON of junk she cannot and does not use. I wish she'd let us clean out a lot of it now, but she refuses. When she does go, with 5 living sibs? It will be empty in a couple of days.

There's no one answer that's right for everyone.
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Reply to Midkid58
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I had to clean out a 4 bedroom house. Mom wasn't a hoarder but she never threw anything out "in case someone needed it". When Mom went to the NH not much went with her. I took the clothes she had that were in season. Had 3 prs of shoes, black, brown and blue but the aides never tried to match shoes with outfits so one pair would have been enough. I took her toiletries but for some reason the aides used what the facility provided. Mom wore Depends so I got rid of her panties and old bras. I trashed these since I don't hand down underwear. I would get rid of any nick nacks because they only get broken or taken by other residents. Same with jewelry. Keep the good stuff at you home and get rid of the rest. Keep a winter coat and spring coat. My Mom went from a 16 to a 12 after losing 30 lbs. We found her thyroid was part of the reason for the weight loss. So I kept all her 16s in a tote at my house. The medication from her thyroid made her gain weight, so I changed out the 14s to the 16s, keeping the 14s. When she started losing again, I traded out again.

My Aunt and a woman at Moms AL always carried around a pocketbook.

As said, Mom will not be coming back, so I see no reason to keep anything she does not need.
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Reply to JoAnn29
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My husband is in a memory care facility he can no longer wear pants, underwear , dress clothes, etc. I have just purchased sweat pants, pull up shorts slippers and t-shirts and sweat shirts comfortable clothing , he will never be able to go on outings any ways . Why keep the clothing it is extremely hard donated these items but I know he will never wear a suit again.
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Reply to JSunny
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Cover99 Oct 4, 2021
Did you donate the underwear as well?
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Sohenc, you can start today. Chances are slim that your Mom will return to your home. Sadly dementia won't reverse itself, and Mom's brain will spend a short time in the here and now and return back to Mars.

Charity now a days want gently worn clothing, shoes, jewelry if not tarnished at the clasp [found that happened with my cheap costume jewelry]. Bathing suits will need to be tossed out. There are charity companies that will come to the house for a porch pickup to save you from hauling boxes to the charity.

If your Mom wants a certain clothing item, just give her what is call a "therapeutic fib", something she would believe, like it got damaged in the wash or the zipper broke.

When my Mom went into a nursing home, I bought her easy to put on clothes which she liked. And the Aids were thankful. Mom never asked for any of her old clothes.
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Reply to freqflyer
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