Tag Archives: divorce

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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Backsliding – Reviewing Predictors

This is a best of post – from 2008.

Backsliding, it occurs frequently to us all and especially to our clients. Use this checklist to see if your clients are candidates.

□ Does your client have chronic physical health issues?

□ Has your client mentioned a history of depression or the start of new treatment for a mental health concern?

□ Does your client have a special needs or medically fragile family member?

□ Is your client taking care of, or responsible for elderly parents or aging relatives?

□ Is your client expecting a new child or adding a family member to their household?

□ Is your client having relationship problems or divorcing?

□ Is your client’s financial state a serious concern in hiring a professional organizer?

□ Are your clients in the middle of or planning a remodel or major home improvement project in their home?

□ Has your client just begun to work from home?

□ Has your client or their significant other recently lost a job?

□ Has your client just begun a new job or taken on more responsibility at work?

□ Is your client planning or involved in a major celebration such as a family wedding, big number anniversary or birthday party, or hosting a family reunion?

□ Is your client actively grieving a recent or series of recent family, friend or pet losses?

□ Are you approaching a “traditional” seasonal season – such as summer or entering the November/December holidays?

□ Has your client worked with a professional organizer before?

Most of the previous predictor questions when answered yes, relate to the common reasons for backsliding. When your client answers yes to one of the predictors, it helps to bring this item to the forefront and let the client know they meet the criteria for backsliding and they should not expect fast or instant transformation.

Terry Prince © 2008

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Emotional Boxes and Your Clients

Definition of an Emotional Box: A container filled with contents causing a client extreme anxiety, stress, or worry.

As a professional organizer,  I identified this unique phenomenon with my clients in the late 1980’s. In the mid 1990’s I coined the term Emotional Boxes  or E-Boxes.

I found it was helpful and reassuring to my clients to put certain items into a dedicated “Emotional Box” or a small file folder when the client was extremely anxious about the material. This compartmentalization of emotional material allowed me to continue working with the client (on overall organization) rather than have the client have an emotional upset during our work. This material primarily shows up in residential space, but some client’s may have emotional material in their workspace or in-home office.

Almost everyone I meet, has some type of material that causes an emotional response. You don’t have to be disorganized to have some e-box material.   We all have something, if we have “lived” a life.

Emotional boxes have material that fall into the following general categories:

Guilt:

  • Material from suicide, deceased, accident
  • A decision they now regret or are troubled over
  • Misappropriated material

Failure:

  • Financial ruin (bankruptcy papers, checks marked NSF)
  • Proof (canceled check, legal paper, photo showing evidence,  correspondence)

Perfectionism:

  • Thesis not turned in
  • Incomplete legal actions
  • Manuscript not submitted
  • Incomplete art or creative work

Anger:

  • Journal
  • Love letter
  • Letter from or copy to another individual (Step 9 of 12-step program)
  • Incest or sexual assault documentation
  • Recovery work material
  • Stalker letter or material
  • Rejection letter from publishers or agents
  • Rejection or dismissal letter from  academic program

Denial:

  • Past traumatic event
  • Current legal, medical or financial situation
  • Internal Revenue Service notices or letters
  • Upcoming life change or legal situation

I encourage professional organizers to consider using “emotional boxes” with their clients. The “emotional boxes” respect and acknowledge that the items are “emotionally” important and yet still allow the pace of work to proceed.

Please visit my website for more information on the full publication of Emotional Boxes.

Note: Clients in extreme denial about their current or upcoming situation are those that need to be actively  encouraged to seek mental health or therapeutic support or counsel.

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Seven Types of Residential Households

© 2010 by Terry Prince, CPO-CD®

The upcoming US Census and my upcoming teleclass presentation Life Stages and Transitions for the National Study Group on Chronic Disorganization (NSGCD) have got me thinking about households.

Households have changed substantially in the last 50 years and I am sure they will change in the future. Here is my take on what a household is from the scope of a professional organizer and coach working and residing in a developed nation. These households’ definitions are helpful to discern as they involve specific challenges, legal and financial matters.

Single Member Households: These are generally the easiest to discern. Only one person resides in the home.

21st Century Residence:  Nuclear, Blended, Single- parent (head/householder[i]) and Domestic Partnership Household: This is a traditional nuclear[ii], blended family household or single parent household. This home can be rented, mortgaged or owned. This type of residence includes a main client or couple and their assorted family members.  Marriage, domestic partnership, and familial ties relate the family members. This can include adoption, foster care, or conservatorship. This household can also be a convenient living arrangement of no more than one elder or younger relative, sibling or parent. Larger mixes will fall into the next type of family – Extended or Joint.

Extended or Joint Household: The next type of household is the extended, complex or joint family where multiple families (usually somehow related or employed in some capacity) with one or several “heads” of household’s reside. This can be a large estate, ranch or farm property that is frequently  inherited. This household can also be mortgaged or owned by a celebrity or high level executive for themselves or others. The property may also be acquired through the pooling of joint funds to make the rental or mortgage payment. Floors or wings can separate the residences. This household can include polyamorists[iii], HUF’s[iv], where space is often allocated into communal and separate.

Shared Household: A shared household is where platonic roommates or housemates share a home or apartment. It is my observation that the household is more likely to have similar age dwellers. These household members make a definitive choice to reside together in shared living usually with separate sleeping space.

In-Home Caretaker Household: This is the situations when an elderly person or physically disabled person has a caretaker or relative residing in their home or apartment for daily or occasional assistance. The elderly or disabled individual usually has more rights of ownership than the caretaker.  In some cases, the caretaker may have specialized legal rights such as temporary medical or durable power of attorney for healthcare for the client.

Provider Managed Household: An individual or corporation can run these households. On the simplistic side, they can be a “landlord” who lets out a room and provides 1 – 3 meals a day. This may be the case in a boarding home.  Most Provider Managed Homes today are board and care, homeless shelters, independent living facilities for adults with disabilities, assisted living, group home (adult or child focused facility), long-term convalescent or nursing homes. The provider-managed homes provide a wide range of specialized services (assistance with activities of daily living, food service, cleaning of dwelling, medical or mental health supervision) on a fee or contracted basis for the client. The shared or common area environments are generally more affected by the needs of the youngest or higher level age groups. The individuals in these households are often required to abide by the rules of the provider.

Collective Living Household: A seventh type of residence for consideration is likely to be a collective or group living such as a dormitory- based community (commune, religious order, educational institution).  This type of residence can include senior independent living facilities, cohousing and even single room occupancy (SRO[v]) apartment dwelling and hotels offering long term residence stays (when dining and possession storage privileges are part of the equation) are included in this group . Individuals choosing to live in this type of household structure are generally able to function relatively well on their own. These types of living arrangements are likely to have strict defined rules and expectations of those that dwell within the “walls” of the community.

Can you think of any more specialized or subsets of types of households in developed nations? What am I leaving out? Please let me know by sending an email to terry@terryprince.com.


[i] US census changed head of household to householder in 1980.

[ii] Nuclear Family – definition http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_family

[iii] Polyamory, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polyamory

[iv] HUF – Hindu Undivided Family http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hindu_joint_family

[v] SRO -Single Room Occupancy http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Single_room_occupancy

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Three Losses in 5 Years Syndrome

The Three Losses in 5 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.

1 Comment

Filed under Client Management Strategies, Communication Strategies, Thinking

Predictors of Backsliding

Backsliding, it occurs frequently to us all and especially to our clients. Use this checklist to see if your clients are candidates.

□ Does your client have chronic physical health issues?

□ Has your client mentioned a history of depression or the start of new treatment for a mental health concern?

□ Does your client have a special needs or medically fragile family member?

□ Is your client taking care of, or responsible for elderly parents or aging relatives?

□ Is your client expecting a new child or adding a family member to their household?

□ Is your client having relationship problems or divorcing?

□ Is your client’s financial state a serious concern in hiring a professional organizer?

□ Are your clients in the middle of or planning a remodel or major home improvement project in their home?

□ Has your client just begun to work from home?

□ Has your client or their significant other recently lost a job?

□ Has your client just begun a new job or taken on more responsibility at work?

□ Is your client planning or involved in a major celebration such as a family wedding, big number anniversary or birthday party, or hosting a family reunion?

□ Is your client actively grieving a recent or series of recent family, friend or pet losses?

□ Are you approaching a “traditional” seasonal season – such as summer or entering the November/December holidays?

□ Has your client worked with a professional organizer before?

Most of the previous predictor questions when answered yes, relate to the common reasons for backsliding. When your client answers yes to one of the predictors, it helps to bring this item to the forefront and let the client know they meet the criteria for backsliding and they should not expect fast or instant transformation.

Terry Prince (c) 2008

Leave a comment

Filed under Caregiving, Client Management Strategies, Organizing, Productivity, Techniques, Terms, Time