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frequent need to reorganize and get rid of items
Posted: Monday, July 26, 2021 11:34 PM
Joined: 1/15/2021
Posts: 14

Hello,  at this time my husband is wanting to go through items in our home to dispose of things he feels he no longer needs.  Unfortunately,  this happens more than once with the same items.  He goes through his clothes occasionally saying he wants to throw away things he does not wear or does not fit him.  Some he wears somedays but another day says he does not wear them.  Some he says do not fit but on another day he says they fit.   If I ask him to put the things he does not want on one pile, he has difficulty doing that so that does not help either of us.  My current way to respond is to leave him alone as he goes through the items, once he finishes and is doing something else, I can again put them on the shelf for the next time he decides to go through them.  I now go through the trash occasionally to see what has been thrown away.  This became necessary when I saw he threw away the key to our battery lawnmower.  He decided he no longer wants his bicycle tools since he is not riding his bike.  We put all the items in a box and I taped it with a note taped to the top explaining what was in the box and that I was working on finding an organization that could use the items.  Several cameras we no longer use that have been on a shelf for numerous years, became the items he had to go through the other day.  Another stack of boxes has a note telling him we are holding these items for our adult daughter.  If anyone has any suggestions on what I can do to help both him and me, I would greatly appreciate it.  I must admit that I get nervous when he starts doing this, especially when I find items that are useful or are mine in the trash.
Posted: Tuesday, July 27, 2021 5:31 AM
Joined: 8/22/2020
Posts: 1496

Hi Doris. This happens at our house too, and I also struggle with how to handle it. Just yesterday my partner was vacuuming (a very favorite activity) but then all of a sudden decided she needed to go through and "organize" a bin in the kitchen where all the extra batteries are kept. Drives me nuts, she takes them all out of their packages, which makes them much hoarder to keep up with. I had to leave the room. Then she decided she "organize" the pantry, which also driven me nuts as I'm the one who uses it, and she moves things to places where I can't find them. It's like a constant game ofvhide and seek. She also moves keys constantly, they are never where they are supposed to be. 

I think you are doing the right thing to just let him do it over and over, unfortunately. I don't think there's any "distracting" to be done. Is there a place you can put the box for your daughter that he cant access? Signs and notes dont work around here any more because she doesnt see/read them any more.

Posted: Tuesday, July 27, 2021 5:37 AM
Joined: 6/12/2021
Posts: 31

I don’t know if this will help you or not. Hope so. For me trying to eliminate items, out of sight, out of mind seems to work better than my wife (with dementia) trying to get rid of stuff. I’ll put items in one of the bedrooms she doesn’t go in. After a while she doesn’t miss them and I can donate or discard whatever it may be.
Posted: Tuesday, July 27, 2021 9:56 AM
Joined: 12/4/2011
Posts: 20034

Items like the him box them up and both of you take them to someone who will use them.

Items earmarked like the box for your daughter.....get it to your daughter or whoever

bicycle/tools and the like.....get rid of them

I would take advantage of his desire to sort/organize/dispose of. I would go through closets and drawers...attics and basements.

Posted: Tuesday, July 27, 2021 12:04 PM
Joined: 4/12/2019
Posts: 360

Interesting topic!  Right now I am experiencing the 'other side' of this problem.  

My DH keeps everything! 

 Styrofoam cups are stacked and loose all over the shelf between the kitchen and the living room...along with empty bottles, clear plastic plates (we live where meals are served and social events with food which is served on small clear plastic plates).  He even asks other people to 'save the plates' for him.

There are stacks of things on EVERY surface in the living room, and lots of empty soda cans and who knows what on the two tables next to his chair.  

DH often has up to 5 pairs of shoes around his recliner.

You get the picture. 

I cannot do anything about this clutter.  DH is outraged if I move anything.  And since I'm very disabled (braces and a walker) I cannot move and discard these things, even if DH didn't realize I was doing that.  

The clutter makes me CRAZY!   I like clean surfaces and orderly arrangement of things I'm using.  I constantly clear and truly organize, and also discard unwanted articles.  We often send a full box to Goodwill and other organizations.  But everything is MINE, DH doesn't get rid of anything, ever.

When we moved into Independent Living 2.5 years ago, DH brought 30 ratty stained t-shirts, and every article of his clothing including his tuxedo!  Of the three large closets we have, his stuff is in two of them.

I read almost all of the postings here, and I have no idea what will happen next with my DH.  I find this all so upsetting and scary.  

DH still drives, takes me to appointments, runs errands for me.  He's become surprisingly easy going as his MCI has  progressed.  He relies on me to get him to appointments and activities.  And I think DH knows he needs me.  DH has always been fiercely independent for all the 59 years of our marriage.

And I am trying very hard to adjust to his clutter......I have to adjust since there isn't anything I can do about it.  Even with his cooperation I couldn't collect, organize and dispose of DH things without tremendous physical effort on my part.

DH also opens boxes that come when I'm out, and stores everything that has come, and then doesn't tell me.  I don't know where anything is, and he's very tall and puts things on high shelves and on top of all the cupboards and on the refrigerator.  So everything has 'stuff' on top of it everywhere in our 800 sq ft apartment.

Sharing this minor stuff with all of you is very cathartic for me.  And under the 'minor stuff' anxiety is my fear of the future....of the changes that are sure to come.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your contributions to this forum.



Posted: Tuesday, July 27, 2021 2:57 PM
Joined: 1/15/2021
Posts: 14

Loved that you said "drives me nuts" Those were my actual words to myself.  Although I would rather not feel as though I am going nuts - it is reassuring to know that I am not alone.   Here's hoping we do not go nuts!!!  


Posted: Tuesday, July 27, 2021 3:25 PM
Joined: 1/15/2021
Posts: 14

jfkoc wrote:

Items like the him box them up and both of you take them to someone who will use them.

Items earmarked like the box for your daughter.....get it to your daughter or whoever

bicycle/tools and the like.....get rid of them

I would take advantage of his desire to sort/organize/dispose of. I would go through closets and drawers...attics and basements.

I like your suggestions and all are things I plan to do or have done.  But we must remember that our days are full with the needs of our LO and our own lives - such as taking the car with the dead battery to service this morning - something LO always did in the past and now is my responsibility.  The pressure one can feel from a LO to take care of something right now, his own anxiety feeding onto the caregiver, can be overwhelming.  Someone suggested hiding.  I have started to do that until I can take care of it at my own speed.  Daughter lives out of state and is coming someday when her schedule allows to get the items.  Hiding and notes work well for now.  Yes, taking advantage of his desire has worked at times but I am now leaving things for him to continue to sort through again and again. It can be a great way for him to be occupied.  

Posted: Tuesday, July 27, 2021 3:36 PM
Joined: 1/15/2021
Posts: 14

Dear ElaineD,  Thank you for sharing your thoughts.  It is cathartic.  Sad but true, I feel better just knowing that you, too, feel as though you have no control. It is amazing how each of our stories are different and yet so similar.  My DH was a pack rat all of our married lives so the switch to now throwing out things should be welcomed by me, right?  But as we know it is more than the habits they have that are "driving us nuts", it is knowing that our LOs are changing and we at times have small if any control of how they change.  It is sad to see, at the same time infuriating.
Posted: Tuesday, July 27, 2021 8:48 PM
Joined: 3/25/2021
Posts: 95

I can relate to both sides of this situation.

I buy my husband shorts, tee shirts etc. I found the new clothing in the garbage the other day.

He feels the cold so even on a hot day, he will wear long pants. He complains of the cold, shuts off the a/c and jacks up the heat. He then gets too hot and takes off all his clothing. Then the cycle repeats itself.

The clutter is that he has all these tropical plants in the basement, half of them are dead because he can’t care for them. He also has a lot of cooking equipment from when he did baking. I am looking to quietly remove a lot of this stuff and donate it.

He throws away my stuff as well, saying I don’t need it. I do.

It is like being lost in a strange city with no map.

Posted: Wednesday, July 28, 2021 5:23 PM
Joined: 1/15/2021
Posts: 14

Buggsroo - I understand your feelings about being in a strange city with no map.  


Stuck in the middle
Posted: Wednesday, July 28, 2021 7:06 PM
Joined: 6/4/2017
Posts: 1367

I have recurring dreams about being lost in strange cities, large office buildings, etc.  It's probably my mind trying to adapt to my real life.
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