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AIBU to push my mum to do a 'clear out' and stop her hoarding?

(80 Posts)
williaminajetfighter Sat 05-Oct-13 22:56:24

My 72 year old mum lives alone in a large house filled with 'stuff'. She is not like those people on the Hoarders TV show but she is fairly bad at holding onto everything she's ever owned, every magazine, every card she's received. I think at the heart of it she's just incredibly sentimental.

Visiting her drives me loopy with the piles of paper,knick knacks etc. she spends a lot of time 'moving stuff around' and dealing with filing and sorting her mounds of paper like some mad archivist. I think her life would be a lot easier if it was clutter free.

I have at times encouraged her to do a clear out, have a yard sale, get rid of unwanted things, put stuff on eBay and it always ends in tears.

Part of me is also conscious that if not done now her kids will have a lot to go through after her death, although this obviously isn't my main motivation.

I fear I may just be imposing my minimalist way of living onto her but I can't help thinking a clear out would be good for her.

So should I press get on this one or just let it go?? Just would like to get others opinions especially those who have faced similar situations.

unless its a serious health or fire risk just leave her be, its not really affecting anyone is it? its her life and its making her unhappy to be told its got to go. My Mum is 85 and I would hate to upset her by suggesting anything in her home should not be there as I would be hurt if someone suggested it to me. I know I will have to deal with it when shes no longer here but hey so what, its her life and long may it last.

No advice but watching with interest as your post sounds very much like my mum, although she is a bit younger!

sarahtigh Tue 08-Oct-13 17:09:45

obviously UK rules on power of attorney do not apply in USa/Canada or where ever, however in UK there is a difference between financial and welfare powers of attorney

it is best if signed when person is mentally capable of signing financial / welfare POA . Financial powers can be enacted at any time however welfare powers a can be signed in advance but will not be acted upon until a doctor etc decides the person no longer has capacity to make their own decisions ie their mental state is such that they are incapable of giving consent this is a very high bar much higher than the finance one

the OP's mother is obviously not incapable of deciding welfare issues so there is no way if she was in UK that OP would have POA in regard to welfare / hoarding etc

if a person will not sign POA or does not want to; when deemed applicable it can be applied for via courts of protection who will decide a.) if POA is needed and b.) who should be appointed

ReallyTired Tue 08-Oct-13 10:23:05

"She then had another fire, this time at night. Luckily the tv exploding woke her up & she escaped again.

Does she really have the right to live how she wants? She does not have dementia."

Provided she is in a freehold property she can do as she pleases. She really does have the right to live as she wants. As I said earlier the bar as which you can enact ensuring power of attoney/ court of protection is incredibly high.

Ultimately its her life and you can not live her life for her.

shewhowines Tue 08-Oct-13 10:18:34

ancient I read a while ago, that there is also a lawn mower museum somewhere too.

Beastofburden Tue 08-Oct-13 08:07:22

east ironically my throwaway "keep her safe" comment was originally going to be "as long as she doesn't burn the place down!" but I thought it might come over as disrespectful.

It's about more than just her rights, isn't it? Her neighbours might get burnt out too. I would say she has crossed the line where she no longer has the right to live as she likes. You wouldn't allow an adult with learning disabilities to do this- they would immediately get taken into residential care, or have some kind of compulsory care package put in.

No idea ow the system works with NT people (if indeed she is NT)....

Eastpoint Tue 08-Oct-13 04:24:29

I think when people say get a house clearance company to deal with it after she's died are missing the point. My MIL had a fire in her house & the firemen couldn't enter it wearing breathing equipment as they couldn't open the front door wide enough. Luckily MIL was outside but if she had fallen asleep inside she would have put them at risk if they entered the house looking for her. The police & fire brigade locked her house & refused to let her back in as it was too dangerous. She moved to Dsil's house, my DH spent weeks clearing her house so it could be cleaned & repaired. In the end she moved to a smaller house.

She then had another fire, this time at night. Luckily the tv exploding woke her up & she escaped again.

Does she really have the right to live how she wants? She does not have dementia.

MyBaby1day Tue 08-Oct-13 04:01:22

YANBU, I try and live as minimally as possible too and it doesn't sound like it's good for your Mum's health to be keeping all this lumber. Try and help her with it. My Mum is a bit of a hoarder and now she is getting rid of more and more (we only live in a small flat so that but try encouraging rather than taking over. Also if it's sentimental as you say, maybe tell her such and such a person (who sent her the card) wouldn't want her keeping everything and would be happy if she had a clean and tidy house instead. Maybe keep a nice photo of the person instead but not cards from every Birthday, Easter etc. All the best.

williaminajetfighter Mon 07-Oct-13 22:10:54

Thx everyone for your comments - interesting to see that others face similar situations.

But, um, Silver Apples what exactly is your problem? You describe me as 'opinionated, virtuous and convinced that my lifestyle choices are vastly superior to those of my mother's' as well as a 'neat freak'. Seriously!? There was nothing in my original post that suggested that but, guess what, it's a forum and everyone has an opinion, hence you could mark anyone as opinionated. Why do people go onto forums and then complain that people are opinionated? Um, forums are for people to express their opinions --- which is what makes them interesting.

And guess what else? Most people think their lifestyle choices are generally preferable or else they wouldn't live that way! I certainly think clutter free is better than a house filled with junk and stuff that gets in the way.

BTW North America doesn't necessarily mean the USA.

Beastofburden Mon 07-Oct-13 21:43:18

Worst case- you leave it as is. When she dies you pay a house clearance company.

I got someone in this summer and said I felt bad as I had so much junk. He told me he had a client where he had two vans up there for a week. The family filled fifteen skips before they called him in.

They are brilliant, and most of it is recycled or resold.

Maybe the thing is to let them hoard within reason, just keep them safe and (fairly) clean and stay at the nearest B&B?

deste Mon 07-Oct-13 20:20:16

When we empty a house we take everything away because if you don't it will find its way back in.

RoonilWazlibWuvsHermyown Mon 07-Oct-13 19:17:35

well why the f**k won't she let me help her then?

She probably wouldn't even be able to find an answer for that herself. It's not as simple as her deciding not to let you. If she's a hoarder for real, its a psychological issue. On one hand she might be desperate to get rid while at the same time she can't quite let go. Its a horrible situation to be in. She's probably desperate to have your children stay but she can't override a mental health problem just because she desires something. Threads like this make me so so so grateful for my patient family who took the time to read up about hoarding and the mental health side of it and had so much patience and time for me to help me overcome my hoarding without making me more ill on the way.

Trazzletoes Mon 07-Oct-13 14:29:01

Ah wet if only it were so easy.

In the case of my DM... Scanning in is no problem. But need to hang on to paper copies in case this new fangled technology breaks down.

I know - back it up. In her world everything could fail at once.

Paper is nice and safe.


WetGrass Mon 07-Oct-13 13:01:51

Yy - why not get her into technology.

1) scanning things (& then boxing for storage or chucking - but getting it out of her living space).

2) could she do a 'living history project' and either video or audio record her explaining her favorite objects. It could be a wonderful family history heirloom - and it could re-direct the sentimentality in a more constructive direction. Also a natural way of sorting rubbish & treasure.

NameChangerExtroardinaire Mon 07-Oct-13 12:38:59

MIL is like this. In a three bedroom house, there's only her bedroom that is habitable to sleep in as the others just have so much STUFF.
I've helped to a certain extent, as in they're looking a bit better as all the rubbish has gone, (she was willing to do that) but there's still piles of STUFF that she needs to sort through as I can't just go chucking her possessions away.
She says she'll "get round to it" and we have actually put lots of stuff to put in binbags to take to the charity shop.
There's sackloads to take but she'll come up with a million and one excuses why she can't take them right now.
Then in the next breath it's "my house is making me so miserable, it gets me down" well why the f**k won't she let me help her then?
I'm here to help.
She wants the small people to stay over occasionally, but they can't while the bedrooms are out of action. You'd think that would be a big enough incentive, but no. sad
Argh! Sorry for the rant, but I just want to help her and have not got a clue how to go about it when she says she WANTS to clear it, makes a start but won't do the rest.

Trazzletoes Mon 07-Oct-13 12:20:41

I feel your pain, OP. My DM is a hoarder. She is living with us at the moment and it is slowly killing me. I'm not minimalist but every time I set myself an objective she goes full out to sabotage it.

It doesn't need to be as bad as it is on TV to count as hoarding.

TrueStory Mon 07-Oct-13 12:13:47

the court of protection is NOT advisable in normal circumstances, very stressful and very expensive. often the court of protection only have to get involved because a PoA was not organised whilst ageing person was in full control if his or her faculties to make this decision. you should really get your facts straight.

of course not every ageing person wants to make a PoA with trusted relative or friend, which is their prerogstive. but thus can be shoring up big ptoblems later if they suddenly become incapacitated physically or mentally.

TrueStory Mon 07-Oct-13 12:02:34

grr... power of attorneys- not suggesting this so OP can chuck things away, absolute idiocy to suggest i ssid that! its more the case of raising possibility that it was an early sign of struggling that OP needed to consider. her DM is 72 after all. or not.

signing a PoA is not the same as registering it. its just a back-up when parents start to get old. I suggest you look online or mumsnet's elderly patents section to get some more info rather than the dangerously ignorant remarks on this subject.

over and out. hope this is helpful to others even if not OP's situation.

ReallyTired Mon 07-Oct-13 11:55:20

The court of protection exists for people who have not appointed someone to take power of attorney. If you are concerned that an elderly relative is seriously struggling then adult social services can help.

My father gave £500 to a ballif for a debt that was not his. I was desperately concerned that he had been bullied into handing over money for a debt that was not his. He is frail and has very poor eye sight and I did not understand why he gave money to the ballif. Social services were prepared to investigate possible financial abuse, but we had to respect the fact that he did not want help. (Even if I do question his mental competance)

I do empathise with the issue of having hoarder parents, but there is littel we can do.

kalms1971 Mon 07-Oct-13 11:55:00

My PIL's are literally storing up a huge pile of problems for us when they pass on. They are 84 now and have no intention of clearing anything despite us offering to help. Loft full of old wedding dresses that MIL bought to sell on but hasn't. Formica furniture, damp and peeling in shed - will not throw away as it was a wedding present. No use to anyone as wood is rotten. Lots of tools, gardening equipment which they cannot use going rusty ( what a waste) 2 spare rooms crammed with stuff that's never used. Going to be a terrible job for us to sort it out. Makes me angry because they know we have our hands full with our SN ds

TrueStory Mon 07-Oct-13 11:49:21

calling the OP stupid names is not helpful, nor is dismissing my personal difficult experience.

OTOH adding to the bigger picture might help OP. of course may not be her situation, but who knows it may be a contributing factor, esp if her DM is 72 and struggling in some ways. legally, power of attorneys btw need to be done before people are seriously struggling; but if you knew anything about the subject you wouldnt have replied with such a stupid post.

honestly MN does seem to attract some unpleasant thickos atm. i think i need a break from it.

SilverApples Mon 07-Oct-13 11:48:11

Exactly RT, otherwise my dad would have done it to me years ago.

Beastofburden Mon 07-Oct-13 11:46:50

Giving things to charity shops is usually less painful than throwing them out. Some charities will come and do a declutter for you.

ReallyTired Mon 07-Oct-13 11:44:07

You can't enact a power of attorney over someone just because they are hoarder. Whether you like it or not an adult can live however they please. It would be an abuse of power to chuck all the belongings of a hoarder.

Power of attorney are for situations when you have an elderly person who is mentally incompatiated. The bar of enacting a power of attorney is pretty high.

SilverApples Mon 07-Oct-13 11:31:29

Power of Attorney, because her daughter is a neat freak?

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