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Since You Asked: My 95-Year-Old Mom Is Hoarding

How can you help a loved one declutter effectively — without ruining your relationship? Since you asked, Susan offers advice.

Dear Susan,
My mom is 95 and borderline hoarding. How do I help without causing chaos?

Dear Drowning in Clutter,
Oh boy, have I seen a lot of this, and it can be tough. Let’s approach your mom with love and patience. Remember that, to her, these objects she has accumulated could very well be connected to her history and have some meaning and value to her that we may not see. It may be that, to her, removing anything is akin to removing part of her past. Cleaning and editing could be quite frightening to her. It’s not just about the objects — it is all about her feelings towards each and every one of them. Avoid using negative language like “hoarding”; she may feel that she is engaging in archiving a past that needs to be saved. You may want to look at this as helping her focus her heritage, removing those objects that are not central to her history. 

Mention to her that some of the items may be of great use to someone else if she donated it. Moving objects from languishing in her house to being useful to another person may be comforting to her.

Start small, declutter together, and celebrate every progress as you go about it together. This is a lovely way to spend some time reminiscing. She may be resistant (if she is like my mom) and want to keep everything! If what you are encountering is something more difficult, something that may have a mental health dimension to it, you may need to seek out professional help. Be cautious, as this should not be your default position to take. However, if that is the case, seek support from organizations specialized in hoarding disorders. In fact, some people have introduced a therapy animal to reduce anxiety and make decluttering easier. So, channel your inner Marie Kondo and remember, Rome wasn’t decluttered in a day. With patience and love you can do this. 

Here are some organizations that may be helpful to you:

National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals 

Clutterers Anonymous 
CLA has a 12-step program for individuals who struggle with clutter and hoarding.

Professional Hoarding Cleanup Services: See if there is a local professional hoarding cleanup service in your area. These companies have trained professionals to help with the decluttering and assisting with the psychological components in a respectful manner. 

See medical disclaimer below. ↓


  1. The issue with my mother was that she could no longer distinguish what was useful or sentimental, and what was trash. I often had to sneak garbage into my trunk so I could throw it away at home. She never missed the trash and was happy that the house was cleaner.


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The ideas expressed here are solely the opinions of the author and are not researched or verified by AGEIST LLC, or anyone associated with AGEIST LLC. This material should not be construed as medical advice or recommendation, it is for informational use only. We encourage all readers to discuss with your qualified practitioners the relevance of the application of any of these ideas to your life. The recommendations contained herein are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. You should always consult your physician or other qualified health provider before starting any new treatment or stopping any treatment that has been prescribed for you by your physician or other qualified health provider. Please call your doctor or 911 immediately if you think you may have a medical or psychiatric emergency.

Susan Guidi
Susan Guidi has been the owner of Advanced Ultrasound Services for more than 25 years. She is a pioneer in diagnostic ultrasound technology. Susan trained at John Hopkins Hospital. She taught some of the first courses in ultrasound in Chile and then received her master’s degree in Paris, France. She is a mother of 3 and grandmother of 7. In her spare time Susan is a standup comedian and improv artist. At 65 she became a bodybuilder and motivational speaker. Last year at 66 she produced, wrote and performed her One Woman Show, "What if Wonder Woman was 66."


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