Before you start, designate three piles or boxes for your mom’s stuff — one pile is for items she wants to keep and put away, another is the donate pile and the last is the throwaway pile.
You and your mom will need to determine which pile her things belong in as you work. If your mom struggles with sentimental items that she doesn’t use, like her husband’s old tools or mother’s china, for example, suggest she keep only one item for memory sake and donate the rest to family members who will use them.
You also will need to help her set up a system for organizing the kept items and new possessions.
Find help: If you need some help with the decluttering and organizing, consider hiring a professional organizer who can come to your mom’s home to help you prioritize, organize and remove the clutter. The nonprofit group National Association of Professional Organizers has a directory on the website at napo.net to help you locate an expert in your area.
If she has a bigger, more serious hoarding problem (if her daily functioning is impaired, or if she is having financial difficulties, health problems or other issues because of her hoarding), you’ll need to seek professional help.
Antidepressants and/or talk therapy can help address control issues, anxiety, depression and other feelings that may underline hoarding tendencies and make it easier for her to confront her disorder.
To learn more and find professional help, see the OCD Foundation website, ocfoundation.org/hoarding, which provides a hoarding center that offers information, resources, treatments, self-help groups and more.
Also, see hoardingcleanup.com, a site that has a national database of qualified resources including cleaning companies and therapists that can help.
Send your senior questions to: Savvy Senior, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070, or visit SavvySenior.org. Jim Miller is a contributor to the NBC Today show and author of “The Savvy Senior” book.