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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Curator Vs. Caretaker

Are you a caretaker or curator of your special materials? I am talking about your private or personal family collections. What is the difference you ask?

When we first inherit or start to collect material we may be just caretaking. And that is Okay. Curating before we are ready can be a big mistake.

Do you let the special material sit in the box and wait to deal with it later? If this is the case, then you are a caretaker.  Or do you sort, label, arrange or classify and make some sort of arrangement of the material?  Curators do that.

Good caretakers pack and store material carefully, in safe spaces free free from harm. Inquisitive little children or pets,  pests or rodents can be an issue. Water or humidity or excessive heat or even excessive temperature changes within a short period of time can be a safety factor. Bright lighting or direct sunlight can also be damaging to your collection.

Are you ready to go from caretaking to curating your collection? The time has to be right. Maybe you are too tired of caretaking the collection so perhaps the time is right to pass the collection along to someone else to curate. After all not all caretakers have to curate.

Wise curators are deliberate with their plan. They think it out before they proceed. They seek advise if they need it. They don’t have to go it alone. Books, associations, organizations and solo practitioners are out there to provide assistance and advice to the curator. Remember seek help and guidance and think it through.

 

Books 

An Ounce of Preservation – A Guide to the Care of Papers and Photographs by Craig A. Tuttle

How to Archive Family Keepsakes: Learn How to Preserve Family Photos, Memorabilia and Genealogy Records by Denise May Levenick

How to Organize Inherited Items: A Step-by-Step Guide for Dealing with Boxes of your Parent’s Stuff by Denise May Levenick 

Saving Stuff: How to Care for and Preserve Your Collectibles, Heirlooms, and Other Prized Possessions by Don Williams, Louisa Jaggar

The Unofficial Family Archivist: A Guide to Creating and Maintaining Family Papers, Photographs, and Memorabilia by Melissa Mannon 

Consultants

Terri Blanchette   http://timesorters.com

 

Website/Blogs

The ArmChair Genealogist  written by Lynn Palermo*     lynn@thearmchairgenealogist.com

The Family Curator written by Denise May Levenick

Family History Secrets written by Wendy Percival. This British site is more about writing and creating – but done in an interesting way.

The Practical Archivist written by Sally Jacobs

 

 

If you enjoyed this you might also enjoy an article I wrote about ephemera many year’s back called Don’t Throw That Away!

 

* This blog was inspired by a post a few months ago by Lynn Palermo regarding curating and creating. If you read my last blog post and book review you would know I am showing my work. Denise May Levenick’s book, How to Organize Inherited Items: A Step-by-Step Guide for Dealing with Boxes of your Parent’s Stuff, also uses the three concepts of Curator, Creator and Caretaker.

 

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Show Your Work

9780761178972Austin Kleon’s  Show Your Work: 10 Ways to Share Your Creativity and Get Discovered published  written in 2014  is a quick and helpful read for all ages,  Share Something Small Everyday is a simple yet wonderful concept  explained and nicely diagramed in chapter 3. This concept is perfect for aspiring creatives and artists to understand and immediately begin the process. Share Something Small Everyday is also a great strategy for young high school S.T.E.M. students who want to start distinguishing themselves from the rest of the pack

Open Up Your Cabinet of Curiosities , chapter 4 brings home the gem “Your influences are all worth sharing because they clue people in to who you are and what you do – sometimes even more than your own work.” Kleon.  In this regard, Austin believes you should always give credit where credit is due and don’t share what you can’t credit.

Learn to Take A Punch is a chapter about building resilience, something all creatives, leaders and visionaries need. I almost passed this by on the first glide by but realized the value upon preparing for this review.

This under 225 page book will take you no time to read, yet will provide some useful and practical insights for some parts of your own work  or your client’s. The thing to remember about this book is that it is SHORT, therefore don’t expect too much.  However, it’s the words and wisdom in this little book that will come in handy from time to time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Humor and Productivity

Sometimes you just need to laugh. Laughter is, after all, the best medicine. Medical experts have found laughter stimulates blood flow, reduces stress and can actually lower your blood pressure.

Over the years I have become aware that my life is just better if I don’t take myself too seriously. Our clients also benefit from our humor. It uplifts their spirits and has a beneficial effect making them more productive.

While looking at humor I realized there are at least 3 ways in our organizing businesses we deal with humor; first humor with self, then with clients, and finally, with our colleagues.

Humor with Self

Sometimes as organizers, coaches and consultants we tend to think of ourselves as needing to perfectly embody the heart and soul of our profession. I think we all have our foibles and areas of disorganization. My specialty is a compulsion to collect and maintain an extensive lipstick collection. The other day I had 12, a few months ago while on a 2-night vacation I tallied 17.

Now most of you that have actually seen me in person may realize my lipstick is not always apparent. How can this be? I am, unfortunately, not yet skilled at continuous and productive lipstick application. I might need a course in this.

In my office I have a series of humorous organizing cards I have collected over the years. One features a woman with a cluttered desk, 2 pair of glasses on her head and lots of interesting “stuff”. The inside of the card says, “Just as soon as I get organized.” Having this in my office makes me smile and is especially helpful now that I have transitioned to reading glasses. Put up some fun stuff in your office to provide some comic relief.

Humor with Clients

Using humor with your clients can bring a touch of levity on a tough subject, or a break from the monotony or stress of a situation. A well placed humorous remark can bring a much-needed smile and defuse a moment of anxiety. Clients, like employees, work better in a happy state rather than a depressed one.

It actually helps to admit a few (note – I say few not all!) of your areas of disorganization to your clients. This allows your clients to realize that you, the expert, are not perfect and have your areas of shortcomings. This helps to diffuse judgment later on when you end up being five minutes late or temporarily mislay a document.

Take some time to laugh with your clients and colleagues and finally start laughing at yourself. You will find that you create a more productive and enjoyable environment.

 

This is a revised best of post – you might also enjoy: 

Routine Reflections

 

 

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Time for Kudos

Kudos means a praising remark. We all like to be appreciated and acknowledged for our work or contributions. Let’s spend some time exploring kudos.

Why Give Kudos

There are a few reasons to give kudos. First, we all like to be acknowledged and appreciated. Second, appreciating someone’s work or efforts can sometimes be the catalyst to develop or deepen a new or existing personal or work relationship. Third, kudos are sometimes the sustaining embers in people’s lives.

How to Give Kudos

Kudos can be verbal or written. Kudos can be physically given as in a handwritten note, card or with a small token gift. Kudos can also be given via an email or on a blog posting can be made from time to time.

Receiving Kudos

It is nice to receive kudos. Kudos can be put up on a bulletin board or display shelf. Verbal kudos can be transformed to penned lines and inserted into an appreciation journal.

Appreciating the Giver of the Kudos

It is polite to acknowledge the sender for their sentiments or gifts, either by verbalizing your appreciation or by sending an acknowledging note.

Making Kudos Part of Your Routine

Take time to routinely reflect and send appropriate kudos to those around you. Kudos giving can be a nice break in a full or busy week. Kudos giving makes us look outside of ourselves, which can be helpful when we are too inward thinking.

Who can you give kudos to in your life?

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Renew and Refresh

I have been thinking about words that describe and encompass positive end stage turning points in change and transition. Renew and Refresh are two words that come to mind.

Renew is to be restored to a former state; become new or as if new again.

Refresh means make fresh again; reinvigorate or cheer (a person, the mind, spirits, etc. ).

Definitions from dictionary.com

Have you experienced either of these when clearing or phasing out of a transitional phase? Comments and thoughts welcome.

 

 

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