Clutter and hiding things

Discussion in 'I care for a person with dementia' started by Danbar, Oct 1, 2015.

  1. Danbar

    Danbar Registered User

    Jul 26, 2015
    7
    Can I please have your views on how to deal with what I perceive to be clutter around the house. My wife continually hides things and I therefore constantly have to search through the house to find things. My wife has been a great hoarder of things in the past and hence the house is full but when ever I attempt to get rid of old items it appears to upset her. Should I just have a clear out without discussing it with her. The clutter includes a lot of clothes that no longer fit.

    Thanks for your advice.
     
  2. AnneED

    AnneED Registered User

    Feb 19, 2012
    81
    East Yorkshire UK
    Mum has dementia and I have been clearing things from her home for a while now. My suggestions would be:

    Do it discreetly without saying anything (Mum doesn't see any need to get rid of anything and this includes rotten apples from the garden, bits of paper ('Shopping lists') plastic yoghurt pots etc.)

    Make sure you take out anything you are getting rid of right away (Mum carefully puts back anything I put into charity bags, wherever I hide them before I take them away)

    Don't alter the appearance of anywhere too much (Mum gets very confused if I change the order of things at all)

    Some of this became apparent to me the other day. Mum doesn't change her clothes so I have to whisk away the worn ones from her bed and get out the clean ones. I was taking the dirty clothes one night and she said in quite an anxious way 'I haven't got any clothes'. I reassured her that we'd get nice clean clothes out in the morning but when I went in a few hours later she had pulled a pile of airing washing from her radiator on to her bed. She clearly needed that reassurance.
     
  3. AnneED

    AnneED Registered User

    Feb 19, 2012
    81
    East Yorkshire UK
    Sorry, also remembered:

    Try and get some sort of alarm key fob for really important things like keys - Mum often puts keys in 'safe' places and then no-one can find them again including her. I bought some key alarms and have one on each set (and tried to put one in her purse though she keeps removing it.)
     
  4. cragmaid

    cragmaid Registered User

    Oct 18, 2010
    7,963
    North East England
    I got one of the over the door hangers from a pound shop, and used to put Mum's clean clothes on it all on a coat hanger ( from clean knicks outwards;) ) I hung it on her wardrobe door where she could see it...again it seemed to comfort her.
     
  5. Grey Lad

    Grey Lad Registered User

    Sep 12, 2014
    5,737
    North East Lincs
    Thanks AnnED and cragmaid your ideas support what I have been doing here and also give me further food for thought.
     
  6. Padraig

    Padraig Registered User

    Dec 10, 2009
    1,039
    Hereford
    When my late wife use to 'put things away' I attempted to put myself in her shoes. What if I wished to remember where I put something I could find it, I'd put it in a special place. The trouble is I'd forget.
    She use to smoke and forget 'the special place' she left the cigarettes. The answer was for me to take charge and offer one as required.
    The trouble was she saved a number of them up and on one occasion I managed to find her reading glass case full of cigarettes! Of course the hunt for her glasses ensued.

    The funniest story relates her underwear and mine!
     
  7. Sue J

    Sue J Registered User

    Dec 9, 2009
    8,042
    You can't leave it at that Padraig:)
     
  8. jeany123

    jeany123 Registered User

    Mar 24, 2012
    19,049
    Durham

    I agree :) x
     
  9. Witzend

    Witzend Registered User

    Aug 29, 2007
    4,282
    SW London
    We had to get copies of all keys - one set for each of us who visited regularly. Some keys that were hidden never surfaced again, even when we were clearing the house later. My mother also hid the keys to her French windows so successfully that I had to get the lock changed. Those keys never turned up, either.
     
  10. hodge

    hodge Registered User

    Feb 26, 2013
    22
    walsall
    hoarder

    Oh Danbar,

    How I can relate to your post! My husband has always been a hoarder, and my house is also full of clutter, which doesn't help when you need to find something important, and made worse when things are moved around and hidden and you need to find something yourself. There is no real answer I dont think, if I mention getting rid of stuff, my OH becomes agitated, so I tend to try and get things into a bag when he is preoccupied in the bathroom, and slowly filter them out of the house to a charity shop. A lot of our clutter also consists of clothes that no longer fit, and he seems to think that one day he will wear them again, I think it is the link with the past. How I long for a tidy house, I think I would cope better!
     
  11. Pear trees

    Pear trees Registered User

    Jan 25, 2015
    442
    I also check my mum's cupboards when she's not looking or my hubby distracts her for things in wierd places. She is obsessed with running out of food so hides cakes and fruit pie packs in cupboards all over her house. We throw the out of date ones out and replace in the kitchen.
     
  12. Suzanna1969

    Suzanna1969 Registered User

    Mar 28, 2015
    346
    Essex
    There are some tv programmes about Hoarders which give really good insight into the mind of someone who struggles to let things go. Obviously the people who are featured don't usually have Dementia (although I suspect some might be starting down that road) but some of the ways of approaching a 'clean up' could help if it's impossible to do it stealthily.

    My Mum asked me to get rid of her knitting stuff, which I did, but then a few weeks later Dad rang me, she was in a terrible state because she couldn't find her knitting stuff (thank god I still had it all in the boot of my car!)... so only get rid of things that you are 100% certain she won't miss.

    Maybe a bagful at a time and smuggle it out to the car without her seeing, then get rid asap!
     
  13. Padraig

    Padraig Registered User

    Dec 10, 2009
    1,039
    Hereford
    Sue and Jenny,

    This was the incident:

    My wife was doubly incontinent for about seven/eight years. In the early days I'd take her to the toilet and help change her pad. One morning we arose as normal got dressed, she was capable of dressing herself. I decided to wear a new pair of y-fronts from a pack of three I seem to recall purchasing. But couldn't find them in my bedside drawer, maybe I was mistaken and just listed them on my weekly shopping.
    Imagine my surprise later in the day whilst I was assisting my wife to use the toilet, I discovered she was not only wearing one pair of my new pants, but two pair in addition to her own knickers!
     
  14. Soobee

    Soobee Registered User

    Aug 22, 2009
    2,734
    South
    #14 Soobee, Oct 2, 2015
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2015
    As a hoarder I find some of your suggestions quite difficult though I can see the reasoning. Getting rid of things by stealth should really be a last resort and going through them with the person is the optimum solution.

    If my stuff is binned I am incredibly angry. It is mine and I have kept it for a reason. I feel dismissed and uncared about if my stuff is discarded. It's a really strong feeling and I expect your loved ones have equally strong reactions if they know something has disappeared!

    So if you can work out what the reason is for keeping that item you may find a solution that works for your loved one. You may be able to come to a compromise too if you are really able to haggle! (obviously this is not going to work if the person struggles with any kind of reasoning) e.g. you can keep this here but please can I move this because it's not safe. I agree that in some cases you just have to take the extra away and leave some e.g. hoarding food. I also agree that it is very difficult to live with clutter.

    I have some experience of trying to talk to mum about her clutter when she had dementia - she put all her letters all over the chairs so no-one could sit down and she didn't want us to move them because it made sense to her that way. I encouraged her to go through them alone but that didn't work as she didn't know where to start. Going through things together was more successful but in the end we did just put it in a bag and she forgot about it so the bag was eventually moved here.
     
  15. canary

    canary Registered User

    Feb 25, 2014
    9,302
    Female
    South coast
    I love it Padraig :D

    Mum regularly wears multiple clothes, but not usually other peoples!!!
     
  16. Sue J

    Sue J Registered User

    Dec 9, 2009
    8,042
    #16 Sue J, Oct 2, 2015
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2015
    Padraig that made me:D your wife obviously knew you would have things in hand as you were able to care for her so well and she must have thought they were bound to be for her as you knew what she needed:)

    Soobee, I agree with all you have written. Since becoming ill I 'collect' more than hoard and it has caused me distress as I have never been of that ilk and the change in my personality is what bothers me, however I have learnt that it is not wise to get rid until I am ready. I have been told I have too much 'clutter', I don't really, I live in a small flat, if it was in a small house it would be fine but I live here so am :confused: as to why it should bother others. I but more things than I did because not being able to work any longer visiting shops is much more frequent than when I worked, I also forget what I have bought but there is usually something I have in mind when I buy something and if I were assisted in following through the activity associated with what I have purchased e.g. wrap and send a birthday present then I wouldn't have so much. I DONT want to be stuck like this buying, forgetting, buying etc. and I try and put strategies in place to cope, sometimes they work, others not depending on how severe my symptoms are but I have yet to get 'on top' of things like I was once able to:(, I wont stop trying though.:)

    If other people got rid of my things it would only add to the sense of suspicion that can be aroused in a 'bad phase'. I know because I live alone it has to be me that has misplaced, forgotten something although it really doesn't feel/seem like it when really bad - thankfully this hasn't happened for quite a while - but if I couldn't trust who visited me then it would really make things much worse.
     
  17. jeany123

    jeany123 Registered User

    Mar 24, 2012
    19,049
    Durham
    I am pleased you came back and shared that Padraig, it made me laugh, if I didn't put my husbands clothes out and me Or the carer help him get dressed he would do something similar :)


    Sent from my iPad using Talking Point
     
  18. Padraig

    Padraig Registered User

    Dec 10, 2009
    1,039
    Hereford
    Most older folk have collected a lifetime of stuff. It wasn't a 'throw away society in their day. Some of it they don't wish to fall into the hands of relatives, a personal diary for example. It could contain information they would not wish to share. Hidden letter from an old flame could get one burnt and damage one's image. It's best to go through each shoe box to make sure they contain only shoes. Some items light the memory of times passed, like 'winkle pickers' (shoes for younger folk) and 'drain pipes', no,trousers. Old photos are best disposed of before it's too late to have to explain to a spouse: "I don't know her, she just happened to be in the bed when the photo was taken."

    Many old folk find it a heart wrench to part with items from the past, especially when they remind them of a special person or period in their lives. Consider, lots of items were hard to come by in the war years and after, a time when many of us had just one suit, our 'Sunday best'. Fond memories come to the fore at the sight of certain items: o'rubbish' as seen by others.
    Hope I've not offended anyone.
     
  19. Slugsta

    Slugsta Registered User

    That's well phrased Padraig and a reminder that one man's junk is another man's treasure.
     
  20. canary

    canary Registered User

    Feb 25, 2014
    9,302
    Female
    South coast
    I am emptying mums home as it is being sold and am currently fighting the clutter and rubbish in it.

    I understand what people mean about not wanting their stuff removed and things are kept for a purpose. I can sort of see the logic of mum keeping a whole box of used brown wrapping paper (can be re-used for sending parcels that she was never going to send), dozens and dozens of freebie pens in jam jars (most of them not working) and a a couple of dozen large biscuit and sweet tins (good for storing stuff - except they were empty), but why oh why did she keep 3 years of church magazines, a dozen threadbare and holey flannels (stiff as boards although neatly folded) and a box of toothpaste tube tops?
     

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