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Next step: Emptying out moms condo

May 24th, 2015 at 06:02 am

I've been to visit my mom at her new assisted living address frequently since moving her there 8 days ago. Aside from a mid-week hump where she became very upset after accidentally locking herself out of her room, she seems to be adjusting pretty well, although there are periodic, sometimes perfectly lucid remarks like, "I'm still trying to decide what I want to do, but this isn't it." She seems somewhataccepting of her current residence, if not always happy with it.

She continues to enjoy the food there, is getting to know other residents and does not seem to recollect her prior life in any great detail. She also was amazed the other day when i told her she'd only been there a week becus she said it felt like 5 months to her.

Another time she got agitated becus she started reading the discharge instructions from her time at the hospital. A nurse or someone had written "for daughter" on the outside envelope, but my mother read through everything and where it said "Likely dementia" (they apparently didn't know she was diagnosed a year ago) my mother underlined it and put 3 question marks after it.

While i was there visiting i mentioned all this to someone who worked there, and she suggested I remove the paperwork because, she said, their mind gets on a kind of "loop" and keeps coming back to the same thing. So I took it all away from her desk and she didn't notice it was gone because once again, her short-term memory is pretty shot.

She is still having trouble using the phone I set up for her; she seems to have trouble processing the simple instruction to dial "9" before the number. It's written down for her, but she still has trouble with it, although she has called me several times.

So much more I could tell you about how she's doing, but my subject here was meant to be about the next step.

I talked to one realtor, who agreed with my friend Ron that rather than wait til next spring to put my mom's condo on the market with various improvements, like painting and the carpeting, that I should get it on the market asap, because there are generally 2 kinds of buyers there: entry level buyers who are generally young people not unwilling to put in some sweat equity and do things themselves so they can have exactly what they want, and also there is some investor activity there, the realtor said, since prices are so low there.

So for an investor,then, putting in new carpeting or new anything would not make sense. They want to buy it cheaply and then flip it a few months later after making their own upgrades.

I want to sell it quickly so I can stop the drain of money for property taxes, condo common charges and electricity every month while I'm paying an arm and a leg at the assisted living place ($5850 a month). I had hoped to get $150K for it but there are several vacant units in the vicinity (the complex itself has over 200 units) and at least one foreclosure, which is now priced at $137K.

I really feel it's imperative to sell it asap, even if I get less than $150K.

So I've been over there cleaning out every day, starting with the day after my mother moved. Mostly by myself, but one day I did have my handyman with me, and his truck, another day my friend Ron came, and yesterday my sister finally came and helped.But she informed he she won't be going over there today or tomorrow because she want's to get her garden in.

It's a huge task becus my mother didn't throw anything out in the 15 years she's lived there.

I have a ton of her artwork already in my dining room, living room and family room. She has well over 300 pieces, and I will deal with disposing of much of that at some later point, when i can investigate possibly selling it as a "lot" like they do at auctions. There are a few other items that would be worth my while to research and sell separately, like the room-sized loom and her 2nd smaller loom. I can possibly advertise to some local weaving group here in CT becus I couldn't ship it. She also a ton of yarns and weaving supplies.

But aside from all that, after my sister and i have largely picked out things we wanted, there is a ton of stuff that has gone or is going to charity. I filled 4 large trash bags with just used VCR tapes and gave toGood Will, which conveniently is about 2 miles down the road. There's also one at my landfill.

I also learned that Habitat for Humanity picks up wood furniture (not upholstered stuff as they have plenty) and I was instructed to take pix of each item I want to donate; then they call to schedule a pick-up time with you. So I'll be taking the pix today of at least a dozen mostly small-sized book shelves, cabinets, chests and trunks which hopefully they'll want so I don't have to pay my handyman to move it.

I will still likely have to pay handyman to move other stuff. Like, she has 2 four drawer high metal file cabinets and it would be too heavy to get down a double flight of stairs, so will have to carry down 8 drawers individually, bring to my house so i have time to sort thru before tossing away most, and then getting him to help me move the file cabinets a 2nd time to dump. Unless Habitat would take the file cabinets after I unloaded them.

I will keep a few select items in the condo for now, for staging purposes, including my mother's bed and headboard, the above-mentioned loom, her leather couch and some of her art on the walls and art supplies.

I haven't even begun to sort through her finished, mainly one-room basement which functioned as a studio and has more art stored.

Please pray for me that I can do all this. Aiming, at least in my head, to get on market in July; that gives me 5 weeks but I'm not sure it's realistic because I still have to go to work! I am taking off 2 days after Memorial Day and 1 week in mid-June, but even then....

9 Responses to “Next step: Emptying out moms condo”

  1. laura/deacon's wife Says:


    Prayers for your sustained energy to tackle this project. Try to find a balance between taking care of yourself, and taking care of other people's business. I think that it sounds like you've already formulated a good (and reasonable?) strategy. Smile

  2. snafu Says:

    Having worked with DB to clear our mom's house, I appreciate how hard this task is on different levels. We found it easiest to sweep through every room, closet, cupboard for items to trash. Our criteria was anything broken, obsolete, stained, wrecked, missing parts, torn etc. Getting that category of stuff out of the house made us feel like we were making progress. We dumped all paperwork into 'banana' boxes, free from the grocery store and sorted through, on site for the last hour of each session. That allowed us to take at least one, large garbage bag to the recycle/trash each session. There will likely be items you'll want to shred for one stack, a stack that needs careful review and a stack to be retained. We used the lids of 'banana' boxes with giant labels to keep us from confusing the three groups.

    It's a lot of work to haul around papers so I hope you'll re-consider your plan to take it all home.

    Emotionally we couldn't do a yard sale so after family and friends chose items, the furniture, electronics, linens,books, household and garden supplies went to auction. You don't get much but they send a truck and two guys and it's gone in one day. Clothes don't sell well here so everything in good condition went to GoodWill. Since we wear 20% of our clothes 80% of the time, I suggest you choose the best of the winter garb that fits and flatters mom and box for next fall. Ask the length of the closet rod and following the formula 12 hangers for each foot of rod, pick spring, summer, fall garments for your mom.

    What is the plan for the car? Does mom have a storage bin as part of her condo?

  3. ceejay74 Says:

    Best wishes! I am so, so grateful that my 85-year-old dad is taking it upon himself to go through and clear out loads of my mom's junk (she's a hoarder) now that she's basically couchbound and can't fight it (and has made a conscious decision not to fight it, which is nice). I hope he's around for another 20 years, but I'm so glad he's taking this step now to help us (namely, my one sister who lives closest and also has hoarder tendencies) now.

    It sounds like you moved her into assisted living not a moment too soon. Great job for being so attuned and attentive to your mom's needs and state of mind.

  4. Amber Says:

    I'm praying for you as you go through this transition with your mom.

  5. rob62521 Says:

    Hope things work out with your mom.

    As for selling the condo. I agree with you getting it sold, even if it is less. When my mom died, she had a little life insurance, but not enough to pay for her funeral. I called someone in and he bought the household stuff. I'm sure if I had pieced it out I would have gotten more, but I wanted the cash to finish paying for the funeral. I sold the house at a loss because it needed work and I am not handy and working full time, it wouldn't have been feasible to hire a contractor to hire it out and I didn't have time to take off work to oversee jobs. Looking back, I think I made the right decision on both things. A couple of months later we had an ice storm and a tree branch took out the line to the house. If we had owned it, we would have had to pay not only to get the line fixed, but during the frigid temps, the pipes would have probably frozen and more trouble and expense. I considered myself blessed in not having to deal with any of that.

    Good job and looking out for your mom.

  6. Dido Says:

    Good decision to sell it now without upgrading--this project is taking enough of your life energy as it is! Prayers that you can sustain the energy needed to do the cleaning--and, like Laura said above, take care of yourself so that you don't get burned out and can keep on going.

  7. creditcardfree Says:

    You have a great plan. Wishing you and your mother the best during this time of transition.

  8. My English Castle Says:

    Indeed wishing you so much strength and serenity. Everyone here has such good advice. It's such a hard thing, but it sure seems like you have a good handle on it.

  9. FrugalTexan75 Says:

    It does sound as though you have a good plan. Praying for you as you get through all of this.

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