Category Archives: Organizing

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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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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Filed under Books to Read, Knowledge, Organizing, Philosophy, Techniques, Terms

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

Sensory Decline Increases Clutter

The senses of smell, taste, vision, hearing and touch are taken for granted by many. However,  as one ages,  some sensory decline may occur. I recently gave a presentation in which I discussed sensory decline and it’s effect on clutter and disorganization in relationship to the aging client.

Smell and Taste

  • Doesn’t smell rotting food/trash
  • Doesn’t smell mildew or dirty laundry
  • Unsure if perishable food is “good”

Thirty percent of American’s over the age of 70 have experienced some form of problem with their sense of smell.  Problems with taste, although less common, often appear in older adults.

Vision

  • Doesn’t see expiration dates on products clearly
  • Doesn’t see “spills” around toilet or kitchen sink
  • Mail processing takes longer due to changes in vision
  • Doesn’t see dirt or dust

Approximately one in three adults over age 65 have vision reducing eye disease.

Hearing

  • Doesn’t hear sounds of  invasive pests in attic or basement
  • Doesn’t hear dripping pipe or faucet
  • Doesn’t hear warning beep of household appliance or timers

One third of adults between ages 65 – 75 have some form of hearing loss.

Touch

  • Unsure if item is too hot
  • Hard to pick up small objects or physically sort small objects
  • Increased incidences of  cuts or scratches because client does not initially feel sharp edges, chipped dishware, or broken items on floor

Keeping The Clutter- Hoarding Scale in mind, these issues are especially important to explore when working with aging Level II – Level V residential client homes.

PS – check out my presentation on Seven Types of Residential Households

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The Three Losses in Five Years Syndrome

Over the past 10 years, I have come across a subset of individuals who begin a sudden onset of chronic disorganization. These are individuals who are serving as family caretakers who have experienced at least three significant losses in their life over the span of 5 years. This subset has usually served as primary caretaker for either parent(s), spouse or sibling(s). Many of them also serve as the executor of one or more of these estates. Many of these individuals seem to take about 7 to 12 years after the final loss to come to terms with this in their life.

What I would like to see is a more active approach to treating this, more on the onset prevention than as an after effect treatment.

It would be beneficial to have physicians and their staffs work to identify caretakers who are already at two losses in five years, and encourage them to get additional support through grief counseling, caretaker support group participation and for those financially able, consider the services of a skilled professional organizer. A skilled professional organizer can do wonders to help the “primary caretaker client ” in terms of time management, goal setting, project planning and management. Many professional organizers can help establish bill paying and document management systems to handle the growing paperwork that complex and long-term medical conditions usually entail as well as documents for estates probate. A professional organizer can help the client simplify his or her life and environment as well as serve as a body double for difficult and often procrastinated tasks.

While a professional organizers services are not inexpensive, they are a valuable tool that may help the primary caretaker live a more vibrant and fulfilling life while and after experiencing heavy losses in their life.

The Three Losses in 5 Years are primarily death losses. For some, however, one of those losses can be the loss of a pet, divorce or significant job loss.

I believe more research and education is needed in this area. Let’s hope that this syndrome can be more clearly understood and helpful strategies for success developed and promoted to the general public.

 

This is a best of post

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