Author Archives: terrysthinking

About terrysthinking

Terry Prince is a recognized expert on productivity and organization. Terry provides productivity and organizational coaching for creative and high-functioning individuals. She also offers consultative consulting for professional organizers and coaches.

The Gentle Art of Death Cleaning – A Review

I finally got hold of the book, The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning by Margareta Magnusson and here is my review.

The book is very gentle in tone and leaves the message that “death cleaning” can be started at any age and the sooner the better. Death cleaning being the sorting and organizing process to cull, reduce, recycle and discard your worldly possessions.

Margareta continually describes herself as between the age of eighty to one hundred. Initially, I  found this very endearing at the onset but rather repetitive towards the end. The author has moved internationally many times and has performed the process of sorting and reducing many times during her life journey.

Her approach is very toned down and “gentle”. This is a good book for professional organizers to recommend to their clients over 50. Margareta looks at death cleaning as an opportunity to spare your relatives and others from difficult decisions and the actual hard work of clearing out your stuff.

Margareta does bring the traditional gender roles attitude towards death cleaning – believing it to be more of a woman’s job than a man. I think we can forgive her for this since she is between eighty and a hundred years of age. However, I think she understands this is changing with the younger generation.

In the latter part of the book, she discusses written communications, photographs and even digital communications. Margareta says “Although our belongings can bring memories to life, it becomes much more difficult with photographs and written words.  She asks “Will anyone I know be happier if I save this?”.  If she answers no, then it goes into the shredder. However, before it gets shredded she takes time to reflect on the even or feeling to know that it has been part of her story and life.

Having just spent several months, working on compiling my father’s memoirs, I have some mixed feelings about waiting to sort photographs and letters. I’d like to suggest we put some time aside, perhaps in the cooler weather months for sorting photographs and letters as a middle age project instead of at the very end of our life or when in the elder years. The volume of letters and photographs are still extensive in the pre-digital age. There is an abundance of treasures for family history or genealogy waiting to be gleaned.   Waiting too long means the potential loss of valuable information.

The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning is the book to help you get motivated to start your cleaning and help save your loved ones their own precious time to take care of stuff you do not want anymore.

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Filed under Books to Read, Caregiving, Client Management Strategies, Knowledge, Organizing, Philosophy, Techniques, Terms, Time

Baby House Syndrome

Are your parent’s selling your childhood home?

Do you think about the house of your childhood you can no longer visit?

Are you sad and depressed, that you have been forced by your parent’s recent move to leave the “old neighborhood”?”

You may be suffering Baby House Syndrome. This is when your loved ones sell the house you identified as your childhood home.

This syndrome can hit you at any time,  between the age’s of 9 to your late 70’s. It is a big change in your “home” identity and where you believe your childhood memories are stored.

Symptoms

  • Extreme sadness after hearing your parents are moving
  • Anger towards the changes your parents are making in their lives
  • The real estate listing or sign brings you to tears
  • You no longer feel you have a “real home”
  • The guest room in your parent’s new home seems to have no traces of you
  • Candidates – 10 to 80 years of age.

Strategies to help you process through this time

  • Accept that the change is going to be difficult for you
  • Have parents or family members take photos of all rooms before the move-out and pack out actually begins.
  • Hold a “farewell to the house” party for family members and close friends (with your parent’s permission of course)
  • Write a letter to the new owners telling them how much you hope they will enjoy the home
  • Take photos of special memories spots – the measurement chart on the inside of the closet door, the swing set in the yard, the tree you planted as a child

Regardless of your age, Baby House Syndrome can cause you to feel a great loss. Using the strategies mentioned above can help you, or your loved ones deal with the transitional process.

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5 Tips for the Primary Caregiver Hospital Visitor

Let’s face it visiting an aging or chronically ill loved one in the hospital is stressful. If you are a primary caregiver or a potential primary caregiver it helps to get prepared in readiness for the surprise emergency visit or an upcoming planned hospitalization. These five tips can help you be a bit less stressed.

1.  Familiarize yourself with the Hospital Visit Scale 

The Hospital Visit Scale will help you to understand the different types of visits and the potential stress aspects.

2.  Be Mindful of Your Things

Know that visiting a hospital means experiencing stress and emotional discomfort. Be most careful when you are doing ER, emergency visits or having first-time entry to a new specialized area in a hospital or experiencing the loss of a loved one. These times are when you are likely to be experiencing the most stress and emotional upheaval. These are the times you are likely to do such things as losing your keys, locking the keys in the car, or forgetting your phone, bag or wallet.

3. Create a Hospital Visit Bag

Over the years, I started to create a go-to hospital bag list that included a plastic disposal carry bag (sometimes you have to put your bag on the floor as space is limited). Don’t plan on using this bag again. Hospital floors are regularly cleaned but they are not always as clean as you think. Bring a few water bottles, Advil, granola bar, a book to read, tissues, notepad and pen and phone/computer chargers. In some cases, I brought in my Caregiver Binder to keep track or convey information to hospital staff.

4. Practice your Stress-reducing Behavior.

Take a deep breath and count to ten before exiting your vehicle in the hospital parking lot. Bring water and your “Go To Hospital Bag” to every visit. Take a moment to think about where you parked your car. Remember weather changes over the hours, be prepared with a jacket or umbrella into the facility if the weather seems questionable. Be sure to wear comfortable walking shoes.

5. Learn about your loved one’s In-plan Hospitals.

Become familiar with the resources your loved one’s hospital has for visitors. You can often search for their websites which often give helpful information. Many have cafeterias or coffee bars. Some have quiet or reflective green interior or exterior spaces. Others have “individual family” waiting areas that are designated for family groups to gather. Hospitals are often large confusing places with many corridors and wings. This creates confusion for even the most directionally able individuals. One hospital I visited frequently gave newcomer visitors a colorful welcome sticker to put on their clothes. This enabled hospital staff or knowing and caring experienced visitors to help with directions or provide more friendly and timely assistance. Most hospitals also have small chapels for prayer or meditation. In-house Hospital chaplain resources are generally focused on the patient, however, some hospital chaplains provide services on a limited or case by case basis to family members.

 

 

A few hours of preplanning can help you be more comfortable and less stressed during a loved one’s hospitalization. This hospital readiness exercise can make a huge difference for you and your loved ones.

 

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The Hospital Visit Scale

Dear Readers:

Because of my many  trips to the hospital to visit family member or other loved ones,  I started to think about my variety of stress levels I experienced upon making an entry  or upon departing the hospital. One (1 ) being least stressful of visits, five (5) being most. My perspective is from being the primary caregiver of the hospitalized patient. General visitors are likely to be less stressed, except when they have first time entry into specialized units such as Burn Centers, Cancer Units, Pediatric NIC units.

 

I created The Hospital Visit Scale by Terry Prince 2016© to help visualize this.

 

hospital-visit-scale-v1

 

 

I am calling myself a Covert Hidden Hero. Covert because end stage caretakers of military disabled veterans are not necessarily the ones at the onset of a military disability.  From 2002 to 2013,  I served as my father’s primary caregiver. My father was a WWII veteran who lost his leg at age 20  (as well as hearing ability in one ear) in military service in 1944 from a V2Rocket while in Belgium.  He was British and in the RAF and deemed 80 percent disabled but was able to live a full life (marrying, pursuing a career in aerospace engineering, having 3 children, sailing and motorcycling). However in his late 70’s  his medical care became much more complex when his meniscus in his only “real” leg tore and he had to have surgery. In his later years he had stage 4 kidney disease with dialysis for 2 years (likely caused by high use of over- the- counter pain medication for his osteoarthritis in his remaining leg and normal use of prescription medicine when he had phantom pains in his missing leg), neuropathy, steroid induced type II diabetes and heart issues. My father in his last 4 years of life had an annual average of 2 major hospital visits (all exceeding 1 week), with follow on transitional care in rehabilitation facilities and follow on skilled nursing either in home or in a facility.  He had at least 12 doctors or specialist services  (primary PPO Doctor, Cardiologist, Neurologist, Nephrologist(kidney)  Pulmonary, Orthopedist, eye doctor, audiologist, dermatologist, US Veteran System Primary Doctor, Sleep Apnea Specialist, Wound Care Clinician, Anticoagulation Clinic)  as well as many revolving hospitalists each time he was hospitalized.  

Having experienced hospitalization exceeding 10 months of a loved one in many ways, in many different times and hospital settings, I feel confident that this scale reflects most of the instances of hospitalization. But I am open to suggestions, any thoughts out there?

 

 

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Cleaning Distinctions – Let’s Make Them!

One of the difficulties we face as we age is seeing and smelling the dust, dirt and general debris. Sensory decline in older adults increases clutter potential. 

Make a distinction between light housekeeping and general housekeeping and deep cleaning services. Make a push for twice a year deep cleaning to your older or physically challenged clients.

For someone who is aging, especially those who are unfamiliar with housekeeping services, they may think “light housekeeping’ is good enough. But it really isn’t.  Light housekeeping services which are often provided as part of in- home care provider contracts, are just that. Light! Contracted Caregivers don’t seek to do more than is in their required contract. They may in fact be discouraged due to liability limits to do more.

Deep cleaning which involves lifting or moving the heavy furniture (to vacuum the carpet or floor below), dusting the heating or air vents and baseboards, is a household chore that needs to be done at least semi- annually.

Another area to observe for deep cleaning is the computer desk and  television corner. Older PC’s and TV monitors are notorious dust bunny attractors. Fans and air vent areas need to be checked and cleaned for dust build up.

Cleaning out the refrigerator is also a deep cleaning chore. In fact this is not an easy service to find help for. Deep cleaning a refrigerator can take an hours worth of time.  Light housecleaning services do not offer or desire to provide this helpful service.  Often this is because they don’t want to get into a battle with the homeowner about good food and bad. Reaching into the back or bottom of a refrigerator is not an easy job. Many refrigerators have various parts that need removal for deep cleaning and putting them back together is often a puzzle.

In-home servce intake providers (often LCSW) or professional organizers need to start serving as educators. At the onset of client work state firmly that a household will need to get some additional cleaning services in order to keep the house clean and safe, not only for the client but for the contracted caregivers.

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Clutter is the Cholesterol of the Home

I ran across this interesting metaphor for clutter – Clutter is the Cholesterol of the Home (1) . After searching the web I came across earlier usage of this metaphor by Maria Cilley – The Fly Lady in her 2002 book Sink Reflections.  On page 25 she states Clutter is to our home as Cholesterol is to our arteries.

Her points in the book:

  • Clutter invades the pathways of our homes
  • Clutter causes stress in your life
  • Clutter decreases joy in living
  • Clutter pushes money away from you
  • Clutter destroys closeness in families
  • Clutter is a result in overindulging in stuff
  • Clutter causes hearts to harden

Try using this metaphor with your own home or chronically disorganized clients.

Are there any other metaphors you use to describe clutter?

 

1  LA Times Opinion Article of 2013  by Howard Mansfield titled An American dilemma: Your clutter or your life.

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Home Organizing Notable Authors

Professional Organizers have been tearing up the social media airwaves with their thoughts on the latest book entree into the organizing world. Marie Kondo’s book The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up is the latest star in a long line of New Concept books.  Concept leaders include Stephanie Winston, Julia Morgenstern, Peter Walsh and now Marie Kondo.

Here is a table to help review the New Concept – Home Focused Organizing Books. Be sure to take note of the lower part of the chart which lists the subset of authors who have sold to specific markets and have also done extremely well.

Home Organizing Notables - Organizers – A Historical Perspective

Tell me what you think. Have I missed anyone in the general audience home organizing category?

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February 9, 2016 · p:55 pm