shcirerf, what excellent news that your mother doesn't want to import any of your grandma's stuff!
My uncle (87) has things in his house which should go but it's not a health or fire hazard (but see below). If he gives me anything to get rid of I call it a victory. I don't judge and tell him what has to go but I stand around helpfully. I'm his (will) executor so at the end of the day it'll be my duty to sort out his things. I'm finding 'being' with his things quite helpful in that regard.
When I'm in the area (I live a few hundred miles away) I go round when I'm going to the tip for my mother and ask him if there's anything to go. Sometimes there is. He's given me a handful of plastic carrier bags. Or some packaging. Or one or two glass jars. Once we had a lovely time in his box room going through an old wardrobe and reminiscing - and lots of things went that day. He specially likes it if my son (13) comes with me because he was very helpful, running up and down stairs, that day with the wardrobe.
There was a fire hazard for some length of time. Everyone could smell gas except my uncle but no-one rang the Gas Board. I did, long distance, and the engineers came and condemned his fire and his cooker. I've never told any of my family who all think it was an amazing coincidence that the engineers called that day. I think if it's seriously dangerous then one has to override one's elders and betters!
Like Debbie, I can see that it's impossible to change anyone. I've also learnt that the strangest things hold important memories which we can't go trampling over.
I suggest trying the, let's call it 'slip-streaming' method which I've used. That's when I'm taking some of my mother's stuff away and I try to get the same from my uncle. I have tried focusing it a bit more narrowly: "I've got loads of old newspapers in the car to go - do you have any?" And with this approach, I have to follow up with very careful comments of the 'this is from last week, have you read it?' kind.
If your mother is a little disabled, could you work on making the house more accessible for her? As in less clutter so less likely to fall or trip? You could perhaps move things out of the way first and then if they're in a different place (even out of sight) she might see them differently.
I know there are two (at least) chamber pots far under my uncle's stairs. When we've looked in there, I've said that's what I think they are and that we don't really use them any more, do we? But they're still there, wrapped in newspaper.
Last edited by silverbirch; 01-29-2014 at 12:58 PM.