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House clearance - help please!!!!

(21 Posts)
mummymummums Sun 11-Feb-18 10:00:14

Both my parents have Parkinsons and dementia. DF has been in nursing home for 3 years, as he has very advanced care needs but he's nearing the end, could be months or less.
Mum was in better health and stayed at home and over the last 2 years had a carer. That increased to 3 x a day early December after a short hospital admission. Unfortunately since December mum has barely eaten or drank, felt sick constantly, and lost 2 stone. After much pushing she was admitted to hospital 2 weeks ago and they found an ulcer. That's being treated and mum no longer feels sick. She just refuses to eat. I've bought all her past favourites, all sorts of yogurts, chocolate pots, etc
She's been assessed by psychiatrist and is not depressed. She just doesn't fancy food and will not eat as she understands it prolongs her life. They won't feed her nasally which I understand. Her dementia isn't that bad most the time and she's terrified of ending up like my Dad who's in a pitiful state slumped in a wheelchair unable to do a single thing - that said he has an awareness of his predicament which is heartbreaking.
So, coming to the point. Nothing and nobody can persuade mum to eat and she / I know what this means - it's devastating and frustrating but I can't change this despite trying and trying.
I've spent the last 3 years trying to manage this situation without family help (my brother lives abroad and has 'issues'). I struggle as I work and have DC11 and 9. Eldest with ADHD.
It's now obvious that despite mum's wish to remain at home, this is now unsafe. She's still in hospital (15 days now) and virtually lost the limited mobility she has, and she's not eating/drinking. Social care team are keen to get her home with carers but I know that's wrong. She needs the loo constantly, is prone to falls, and within eating and barely drinking I believe we'll shortly be managing end of life. She's on and off iv fluids in hospital but that can't happen at home.
So in the midst of this, I need to try and sell my parents' house to pay for care home fees as both now must pay with Mum out the house. Mum can go to Dad's home but with social services saying it's unnecessary (good lord!) we don't get the 12 week disregard so time is short.
I've started working through a houseful of stuff and it's heartbreaking. Stuffing tights, underwear, tat into bags, and piling up better stuff for charity shops. My parents are still alive, though probably not for long, and I'm stuffing 60 years of their lives together into bin bags. All the clothes I remember them wearing in good times but not suitable for their size and needs now.
Loads of ornaments - none to my taste and I don't put up ornaments anyway. A tea set mum collected for years. How can I part with all this??? But I don't have room to store and I know I can't keep it all.
Obviously I'll keep jewellery, photos, Dad's sporting medals, etc and I've brought the cat to live with me. I'll keep a nice outfit for a funeral for each - I've chosen what they wore to my wedding.
Is there a system? I'm lost in the midst of so many happy memories and this all seems so final, yet they're alive. I'm really struggling with house clearance in the midst of everything. I'd be so grateful for any tips.

mummymummums Sun 11-Feb-18 12:59:49

Have I posted in the wrong place? Please, anyone?

fourpawswhite Sun 11-Feb-18 13:20:49

Oh OP. Hugs for you. Heartbreaking process.

You sound like you are doing great. There's no right or wrong really. I did my grandmothers house last year under similar circumstances.

I started with bits she might like for her room. Some photos, pictures, ornaments and clothing she wore. Then got rid of clothes she wouldn't wear, perishables, etc.

You mention your children. Might they like a couple of items each? Any close friends who may wish simaler?

We kept photos, memory type items and paperwork which might have been needed.

There are charity's who will then help with house clearances. My gran had a huge amount of furniture and ornaments etc. They came in and took that away for us. Then house was deep cleaned by us and sold.

It was difficult stuff. Especially when she was still here. I keep thinking still that she is going to ask me for something that we don't have anymore, but she never has. It's the memories though. She still had all my grandad a things as well. Very sad to do. Take your time and anything you are not sure of hang on to for now.
We hired a storage unit for six months now that I think about it, it was not to expensive and gave us the time to go over things again.

mummymummums Sun 11-Feb-18 13:50:43

Thank you Fourpaws - that's all very good advice. I'll see if the DC want anything - they've taken a huge soft toy each that lived at my parents but there might be keepsake type things too. Storage seems a good option too.

halcyondays Sun 11-Feb-18 13:59:41

Can you just hold off on sorting the house for a bit while dealing with your mum and dad's situation?

specialsubject Sun 11-Feb-18 14:06:42

I'm so sorry, and for your mum who should not need to be this brave if we had reasonable laws.

The way I see it with the possessions is that they gave your parents pleasure to own. They can now go on to new homes without guilt. Be aware that collectibles are worthless as there are so many of them, keep if you like the item but don't feel guilty if not.

Storage is a good idea - that way you can get packers in and make decisions later.

The best to you and your parents.

mummymummums Sun 11-Feb-18 14:52:31

Thank you all.
Halcyondays - I wish I could but we need to sell the house to pay care home fees. It's hard as I try to visit both of them most days, except the 2 days I work long days, and they're in different places.

applesandpears33 Sun 11-Feb-18 15:32:18

OP hugs. You have so much on your plate at the moment, between working, kids, visiting your parents and trying to sort out the house. Is there anyone who could help you with the house? Perhaps a friend? Someone else may find it easier to help sort through stuff as it wouldn't hold the same memories and emotions for them.

tumblrpigeon Sun 11-Feb-18 15:58:55

Op I’ve done this twice , for my parents and my aunt.
It is truly heartbreaking.

Here’s my advice

1)If there is decent stuff that you have no use for try and give it to someone who will appreciate it. My aunt had a series of large expensive ornaments that I gave to a distant friend’s Mum. She is absolutely thrilled with them and gave a donation to the hospice.
The local church uplifted items of furniture a they always need things for their helping the homeless get accommodation.

2) keep more personal items than you think you want. Find a place to store them. Under the bed, in the loft, whatever. You can let them go gradually over the years. I really regretted being too ruthless with my mum’s things . It has given me great comfort in the past year to have quite a lot of stuff from my parents ‘ house since dad died.

3)charity shop and Freecycle for anything else , including clothes. It’s a good feeling not to waste stuff.

4) get a close friend or siblings or sibling to help going through stuff.

5) don’t underestimate the impact on your health. A year on I’m still not ok.

Good luck and take case of yourself x

tumblrpigeon Sun 11-Feb-18 16:02:37

Just saw you have a brother who lives abroad and has issues.
We all have issues.

He needs to step up to the plate and help. Unless he has a very good excuse not to.

2 of my siblings live abroad. They’re both took a week’s leave to come and help . And rightly so. But the lion’s share fell to me. But that’s ok.

mummymummums Sun 11-Feb-18 17:03:04

I wish he'd help Tumblrpigeon - he's a nightmare. If I try to talk about it he tells me he can't cope/can't sleep and asks me not to say anything bad for a few days.
I've pretty much begged him to help out in terms of coming over so I feel I can have a holiday but he historically has refused. He is coming in March and June so we can have two weekends away - one for my 50th. If he comes.....
My DH has had stern words too. DB has addiction issues (sleeping pills) and PTSD some years back so we try to grit our teeth. He's only in Spain. He doesn't work or have a family of his own. He's not bad at heart but useless and it's infuriating.
I'm sorry you're not ok - I know I'll feel relief for them as this hell has gone on too long, especially for dad, but can't imagine a world without them.
I'm coming round to keeping more than I think I want. Too many things to make decisions on at the moment and I just find myself sitting amongst it all. DH is a big support - I'm lucky there smile
Thank you for your support

mummymummums Sun 11-Feb-18 17:04:58

Applesandpears - no family to help other than DH as have to count out DB. I may need to ask friends - I'm rubbish at asking for help. Thank you, I must ask I think

Ariela Sun 11-Feb-18 17:45:01

It's easier to get a friend to help, as they can be objective about 'stuff' eg 'this won't fit so no point in keeping it' and 'this, this and this' will have a value on eBay so I can sell it for you' - anyone you know into selling stuff ?

tumblrpigeon Mon 12-Feb-18 09:55:16

Your brother is being a dickhead. Sorry to be so blunt.
But it sounds like he’s not going to be any help.

Which is a shame because by the sound of things it would probably do his mental health the world of good. Do you think you could “sell” it to him on that basis?

PLEASE , in the meantime get a good friend to help you with going through stuff.

Also , if you are selling the house , I presume you will keep it furnished until it sells? You can offer to include some items in the sale.

Have you used Freecycle before ? I gave away some crazy stuff (broken lawnmowers , an old lathe , old metal fling cabinets ) to people who were really grateful. I was given flowers and chocolates from two different recipients. It made the process easier that some good was being spread round from a sad situation.

When my very ill dad died best way I can describe it is a sad relief.
I felt a physical weight lift from me and the funeral was a really joyous affair.

But I miss him and Mum terribly and the psychological shift to not having living parents hit me like a brick and still does.

It has been an even far greater life changer than having kids.

BasiliskStare Mon 12-Feb-18 17:21:44

mummy - if it helps here is my advice

My FIl died last year . We had to clear his house out ( may be it is easier when they are no longer here - I do not think it was for my SIL)

My advice would be
1. So get someone else to help who is not quite so emotionally involved - this is good advice
2. I volunteered for the final clearing because I know my SIL would have found it upsetting to see MILs and PILs stuff being thrown away ( but the truth is , unless it is worth something , it need to be "cleared" .
3. Go in and ( given your mother is still around this may be tricky take some things which you want as mementos or things of sentimental value)
4. If they have loads of books ( as my PILs did ) - paperbacks just put them in the recycling unless a local charity shop wants them. We spent £1000 near enough getting rid of bookshelves and bookshelves of stuff.
5. DH's parent's house - they took over 25 tons of stuff from a 4 bed house ( with a big attic) - it cost a lot. The sooner you can start moving stuff out the better - they should have done it before
6 - I would not say you need to leave her with nothing but sometimes ( and I speak from my PIL's experience - you end up with just "stuff" which no one really cares about. That said , I do recognise that this will be hard for the family. Which is why I went to do the clearing out, I think my SIL would have been upset to see so many things thrown away.

I hope this helps , meant well

Mosaic123 Tue 13-Feb-18 02:06:53

Take photos of things. That way you can keep some memories.

We had to do this when my parents went into a care home. It was a horrible thing to do. At the time we had a big car do transport of big items to the charity shops and dump were not too difficult. I'd I had my time again I might hire a small skip.

mummymummums Tue 13-Feb-18 16:39:20

Thank you everyone, all really good advice.
Yes Tumblr - my brother is being a dickhead, definitely can't argue with that! We all know it. I've tried to get him over to help but he just insists he can't. To be honest he'd be a nightmare - he'd demand I sell everything and maximise profit. He's very good at giving me 'advice' that he doesn't have to live with. Latest gem is to string it out and cause delays in mum's discharge to save care home fees. Never mind that mum hates it there and that the hospital is on black alert for bed shortage angry
He's not in the same world as anyone else.
I can't imagine a life without my parents in it. They've always been there for me. They're both still here for now though and I hope reuniting them at the nursing home will help their quality of life.
Definitely will take pics - some is gone already but I'll photograph what I can.
Thanks everyone, much appreciated.

Panga63 Fri 23-Feb-18 19:00:17

We've had to clear a few family homes for various relatives over the last decade and it doesn't get any easier - you have my sympathy flowers. We dealt with food in kitchen cupboards/freezer first, and clothes (save a "funeral" outfit, keep suitable easy to wear clothing for nursing home, and the rest in a bin bag to charity , really tatty stuff to recycling at local dump). Clearing the attics was hard work and we got friends/younger rellies to help out and had skips delivered as 2 older relations were real hoarders of all sorts of broken stuff which should have been thrown out many decades ago. On the plus side we did have a smile at old school reports, old bikes and whatnot squeezed into attics. We kept photos, scrapbooks, school reports etc and made each a memory box for them to keep. Any "official" paperwork went into empty suitcases for a sift through later.
We found homes for old knitting needles and craft boxes with our local Guides pack, put old paperbacks in our local free swap at the supermarket, and folk at the local allotment took the old gardening tools/pots smile
The one thing we learnt from all this is to be tidy about our own personal paperwork and keep everything filed and together in plastic wallets. I really don't feel comfortable having to rifle through someone's knicker drawer to find bank statements and utility bills sad

70isaLimitNotaTarget Fri 23-Feb-18 22:29:08


I have spent last week doing some major decluttering , my DParents are both at their house though and DDad is in pretty good health but it is so hard going through someones possessions and basically getting rid of most of their things.
When my GParents died my Mum had to move all their belongings (council owned property) out in a week, she couldn;t dispose so it basically all came to their house. It was years before it was siphoned put, there are still things there (which of course I didn't get rid of)

Things like letters, certificates,photos that you want to keep - in a secure airtight box or plastic crate.
Any clothes or fabrics in a Vacuum Seal bag .

But yes, looking with a critical eye and doing Bin/Recycle/Charity shop piles.
My DMum is a hoarder , it was very hard for her to throw things out. She's of the post war age where things were used , re-used and kept or passed on.
But she also has Parkinsons and poor mobility , so for her safety and mental health (who wants to look a endless piles of STUFF?) it had to be done.

I was telling her about the Swedish Death Cleaning , I think it might have had the desired effect .

WorriedAndTired Sat 24-Feb-18 10:25:36

Swedish death cleaning sounds interesting. I will have to google that

I’ve had to help my DF move 3 times in last 15 years and while it’s not quite the same as house clearing, each time was a downsize and painful as he was involved too.

Definitely ask friends to help. Several friends. One to look after your kids, one to come and be impartial. If you are embarrassed, or think your DM would be, so the personal stuff like knicker drawers and bedside cabinets first before your friend arrives.

Have a scanning app on your phone for documents you might need but think can go. Scan the important ones. Just take photos of the less important ones as it’s quicker.

Don’t bother with shredding paperwork. It takes too long. Light a fire, or put it in a bucket of water until mushy. Or save it for packing breakables, and then burn/wet once you’ve unpacked.

Books, contact your local charity bookshop. They will often collect, and even give you boxes. You are still expected to box them up, but don’t have to do the driving & lifting. Give books as quick shake before boxing as many older people like to keep money safe inside a book or two!

When selling the house don’t get rid of all furniture. Keep a small selection of the nicest including pictures, so that the rooms don’t look empty. Ask the buyers if they want to buy/keep for free if by the end of the sale you’ve had enough.

BHF and other local charities, including forces charities which have furniture warehouses/showrooms will come and collect furniture for you. If soft furnishings don’t have a fire label, they can’t take them.

Consider renting a small storage unit for the bits you don’t want at home, but aren’t sure if you need, want to sell etc . Take good photos of what they are for selling purposes before storing. Don’t bring them home unless you can really help it. DF has boxes and suitcases of stuff he brought home from his DFs house in the 1990s. And it’s moved with him every time. Most he’s never looked at, and probably won’t.

HagueBlue2018 Sat 24-Feb-18 10:28:43

Oh OP it's awful. Can you get someone else to actually take the boxes to the charity shop or out of the house. Preferably someone close to you who can just do it. I could pack up but not actually remove the things to the tip / charity shop.
I put several boxes of stuff in my attic. I have gradually reduced 5 years later.

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