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Should I tell them?
Posted: Thursday, September 22, 2022 7:56 AM
Joined: 12/16/2021
Posts: 1

This is my first time posting and its been a difficult journey. My parents have been married for almost 62 years.  My father had 2 strokes almost a year ago an has dementia.  My mother has AD and was not able to stay in their house by herself.  We moved them into an AL about 9 months ago.  My mother does not accept her condition and my dad, at times does not understand why he is there, but he has moments of clarity.  They are safe and I am thankful for that.  My struggle now is how much to tell them.  My husband & I own the home they lived in and we are working on clearing out the space.  How much should I tell them about what is happening to their belongings?  We are saving the important family stuff,  planning an estate sale and then everything will be gone.  They seem to be settled in the AL but occasionally will mention something about their "home".  Its not like they have a really big home with expensive things.  Most of it is just what they collected over the years.  We have set up their apartment in the AL with things from the past and stuff to remind them of happy times.  I am feeling guilty about selling their things, but they will never go back to living on their own. I don't want to upset them by telling them what is happening to their things, but is is their stuff.  How much should I tell them, if anything.  Thank you for your input.
MN Chickadee
Posted: Thursday, September 22, 2022 8:49 AM
Joined: 9/7/2014
Posts: 1613

What good would it do to tell them? I would not. I would them you are looking after the house and they don't need to worry about it, it's fine. Therapeutic fibs are usually the kindest approach for someone who can't process the logic behind decisions or remember the conversation the next day. It's a hard job to be a POA  but you are doing what you have to do. Sell the house, use the money to pay for their care, grieve and move on. Let them live peacefully believing the house and all their possessions are right where they left them. I had to handle the estate for a relative and sell two generations worth of stuff and the house, and yes selling decades worth of possessions that meant something to them is very sad and hard. But it's part of life. Keep a fews sentimental things, send the rest out into the world to mean something to someone else.
May flowers
Posted: Thursday, September 22, 2022 9:27 AM
Joined: 4/9/2021
Posts: 715

We did not tell my FIL when we did the estate sale and sold his home after he moved in with us a few years ago. He asked about things but a lot of it were things he had already gotten rid of years before

It was hard getting rid of things that were nostalgic - my MIL had kept detailed records on each thing handed down and from whom. So, after my husband’s siblings picked through what they wanted, I saved the most special pieces and plan to give it away for weddings and Christmas presents to grandkids. For example, my nephews all got pocket knives belonging to their great grandfathers at Christmas. My niece got a brooch that was my MIL’s. My son and his fiancé will be getting a tea set she likes. 

Anyway, it will take a few years to get through it all, but I’m glad we did it that way. 

Posted: Thursday, September 22, 2022 10:53 AM
Joined: 6/10/2021
Posts: 82

I remember feeling as you do when I was going through the process of selling my mom's house and getting rid of all her things.  To me it felt very disrespectful.  After all I am the child and she is the parent, what right did I have to do all this without her knowledge or permission? But the truth is what others have said, no good will come of you telling them what is going on and they won't be able to understand it for much longer anyway.  You are doing the work that needs to be done.  It is painful and difficult work, dismantling a lifetime of memories and the building of one's home.  Yes they are just things in the end but it is things that make up a life and theirs is very different now.  After moving to memory care my mom did ask about her things and her cat.  I just stuck to "don't worry, I'm looking after him" and "Yes, everything is taken care of, I am handling it, you don't need to worry".  After a short time, maybe 2 months, she stopped asking.  I have to say I think the part you are in now is the hardest.  Once the house was sold and all the items dealt with it was a burden lifted from me.  I hope you experience some relief too when this part is finished.
Tina M
Posted: Thursday, September 22, 2022 2:19 PM
Joined: 9/22/2022
Posts: 4

I had to sell everything of my mother's when she moved into AL.  She asks about her house relatively often and I feel guilty fibbing to her about it but I know it is for the best.  It makes her happy to believe her house is waiting for her to come home.  Why take that away?
Stuck in the middle
Posted: Thursday, September 22, 2022 5:18 PM
Joined: 6/4/2017
Posts: 2031

I don't tell them anything I don't have to, unless it is good news that would please them.  I had to tell my mother when my brother died, because she was still alert enough to notice his absence.  Three or four years later, her sister died and I didn't have to tell her, so I didn't.  

I think kindness trumps full disclosure.

Posted: Friday, September 23, 2022 1:21 PM
Joined: 9/23/2022
Posts: 7

My father still has his 2 bedroom apartment while he's been living in nursing care a few months. Because dementia robbed him of organizing things at home, it took me a few weekends to get rid of extra living room furniture, my late mother's absurdly large collection of cookbooks and self help books, and a few other odds and ends. Otherwise, the apartment is still fully furnished. At some point, I'll have to release the apartment back to NYCHA... but not now. I plan to take him home on a Saturday to go through personal things he wants to take back to the facility. I don't want to make him feel I'm dumping his home of 45 years because that's not the case right now but will be. I don't want much from what he has. The clock (pictured) of course cause that's our family legacy. My parents' bedroom furniture is truly a work of art. Over 60 years old, made from real wood and extremely heavy. The drawers are falling apart and such but I don't have room for that in my place. Will definitely donate when the time comes. The 2nd bedroom (my childhood bedroom) has been storage. That's where the real work is. I've been slowly getting it better arranged and less "cluttered". I'm working on donating the VHS tape collection (or selling some of it) and other knickknacks. 

The washer, dryer and large refrigerator are in the kitchen. Can't take any of them to my place. Probably will donate the appliances if I'm not able to sell.

Anyway, my dad has an idea of certain things with the apartment but not everything. He doesn't need to sweat the small stuff.

Forgive me for rambling. It's been an ordeal!

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Posted: Friday, September 23, 2022 8:58 PM
Joined: 9/23/2022
Posts: 4

My mom is lucid enough so far that she realizes her house needs to be cleaned out and sold.  She was quite fixated on it before I took her to memory care - she would demand to be taken to her house to do "her things".  She asks quite often,, every time I visit now, and I tell her that I'm taking care of it, and that her lawyer has told me that she will help with writing the contract for selling the house.  This all seems to calm her somewhat.  It's a big job - she got rid of things that she should not have when big dementia episodes would happen, so there is extra work for me.  But I've surrounded her with things that are meaningful to her in her room at the memory care:  her own bedroom furniture, artwork that she loved, quilted wall hangings that she designed and made herself, the bed quilt that she specially made for her and my dad's bed, etc.  And I'm keeping her supplied with knitting supplies, coloring books and colored pencils, easy crossword books like she's always enjoyed, and other things to do.  I know she may continue to ask even once the house is sold, and at that point I will simply tell her it's all being taken care of.  It's all feeling much more challenging than I expected it to be.  Her house was the place that I loved and cared for my parents in their retirement years, and it doesn't feel like the same place now that she and the family heirlooms are not there.  But she is safe now, and that is my comfort.
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