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Archive for Hoarding

An Interview with Judith Kolberg an Organizing Specialist in Chronic Disorganization

Judith Kolberg founded FileHeads, a professional organizing company, in 1989 and has been a member of the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO) since 1990. She formed the Institute for Challenging Disorganization  and has served as its director for seven years.

Judith is the author of Conquering Chronic Disorganization , co-author with Dr. Kathleen Nadeau of ADD-Friendly Ways to Organize Your Life, and Organize for Disaster: Prepare Your Family and Your Home for Any Natural or Unnatural Disaster and Getting Organized in the Era of Endless.

Everything A Professional Organizer Needs to Know About Hoarding

Everything A Professional Organizer Needs to Know About Hoarding

  1. Hoarding disorder has been included in the new version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders. How has your expertise in working with clients with hoarding disorder influenced your ideas about mental wellness?

I love that you use the term ‘mental wellness’ instead of ‘mental illness’. As an organizer, I’m convinced that good psychotherapy is essential to the mental wellness of a person who hoards.  A safe place to talk about what kind of life one wants to lead, how the emotional issues of loss, trauma and grief interplay with excessive saving and acquisition, and handling stress are key. Psychotherapy via Skype, online individual and group, on-site, and peer-led support would be real handy in many hoarding situations rather than a clinical, office setting.

 

  1. When working with a hoarding client or their family,
    Conquering Chronic Disorganization

    Conquering Chronic Disorganization

    what is one common motivation obstacle and a strategy for overcoming it?

An obstacle to motivation is the fear of discarding the person’s possessions to the landfill. Reassurance that this will not be so is essential, but the age-old issue is will this promise backfire. Will the people charged with sorting and discarding and reducing the hoard be thwarted by “You said my stuff would not be thrown out.” If the person who hoards sees that there are good “pickers”, organizers who take the time to pull out the “good stuff” and load it into lots of clear, labelled containers that helps. Specific individual recipient for the excess stuff also helps, like all the shoes go to my brother in law. Specific charities also helps – all the stuffed animals to the Red Cross for children of natural disasters, all the pet stuff to the pet shelter, all the unused toiletries to the women’s shelter. I take the time to discuss my entire process to the family.

  1. As a speaker, author, and trainer, you’ve been helping clients and families learn
    Organize for Disaster

    Organize for Disaster

    strategies to help people with ADD and ADHD get better organized. In what ways have those strategies changed from when you started studying in this field to now?

The “how” has not changed much even though the “why” is better and better understood. I would say that providing strategies to cope with technology, devices, the Internet black hole, and digital distractions is the new frontier. Ironically, helping ADDers to use these very same things to their advantage is also new.

 

  1. For those that are especially challenged with ADD, what 2 strategies are most effective?

    Getting Organized in the Era of Endless

    Getting Organized in the Era of Endless

We got to get better, as organizers, on helping people with ADD manage their tasks and time. One strategy is for the organizer to be the time estimator. It’s great if that skill can be transferred and it often can by example, but there is no harm in the organizer actually being the person who helps the ADD client estimate how long a project or a task will take and accounting for it in scheduling. Another strategy is to think of creative ways for a person with ADD to capture tasks on the run. That might be post it notes, voice mail notes, texting oneself, sending yourself emails, using apps that convert voice to text or text to voice.

 

  1. What has been your biggest personal challenge around chronic disorganization?

    ADD Friendly ways to Organize your Life

    ADD Friendly ways to Organize your Life

My disorganization centered on directions, getting from place A to place B without getting lost. I use voice GPS and that has been absolutely dreamy.  I’m told directionality issues are part of my brand of dyslexia. Lots of little spatial challenges thwart me. I can’t for instance, look at my power point, advance the slides, and speak at the same time. I have to use index cards, even after all these years.

Judith Kolberg has written many valuable resources and more resources can be found on the website for the  Institute for Chronic Disorganization.

What is the most difficult problem you have encountered helping someone who is  chronically  disorganized? Let us know so we can help.

 

 

Unwanted Inheritance

For children of hoarders, the mess remains after their parents pass away.

Newsweek   By Hannah R Buchdahl Jan 26, 2011

Greg Martin wasn’t sure what to expect when his mother died last May, forcing him to return to his childhood home for the first time in nearly 18 years. The house, located on a pleasant block in San Diego, had always been cluttered, but now it was virtually uninhabitable. “There were piles as tall as me, six feet or so,” Greg said. “Where there used to be floor, there were trails—a foot and a half high, so you’d be walking on stuff.” Greg was forced to navigate through piles of magazines, papers, and books, plastic bags filled with thrift-store purchases, expired medicine bottles and literally tons of clothes. The only “living space” was a small pocket by the front door, where his mother, a colorful and fiercely independent woman, had collapsed shortly before her death at the age of 83. Greg, who has taken a leave of absence from his job, expected that cleaning out the house would take six months. It’s now been eight—and counting.

It’s a scenario that’s all too familiar to children of hoarders, who are burdened with far more than funeral arrangements, probate, and grief. They must also deal with the overwhelming piles of stuff that a hoarding parent accumulated over the years—in apartments, in houses, in storage facilities, and garages. The items themselves may vary, but for many children of hoarders, the result is the same: the unwanted inheritance of a whole lot of nothing.

Greg Martin’s mother lived in this home until her death last year. (milbetweenus.blogspot.com)

The inclination to hoard typically begins in the teenage years, but experts say it can also be triggered—or made worse—by brain damage, a traumatic life event, or depression. As the hoarders age, the piles grow, gradually eclipsing everything else in their lives.

“I’m dreading the day when the house needs to be cleaned out, more than I dread the day that they leave us,” laments Teresa C. of Winnipeg, Canada. Teresa, like several others interviewed for this story, did not want to give her last name because the hoarding is a source of tension in her family. For Teresa, inheriting her aging parents’ hoard is a worry for the future.

Hoarding is an extremely complicated mental disorder that generally involves the acquisition of too many items, difficulty getting rid of items, and problems with organization and prioritization. Few statistics exist related to hoarding, because hoarders rarely seek or accept treatment. But shows like Hoardersand Hoarding: Buried AliveAnimal Hoarders have certainly raised awareness and triggered a tidal wave of anecdotal evidence to suggest the illness, often associated with obsessive compulsive disorder, affects millions—either directly or indirectly. Support groups and message boards are flooded with stories about the once-secret life of hoarders and their families, and the constant battles to get the hoarders to understand the impact their illness is having on their loved ones. That impact doesn’t end with their passing.

“Nine times out of 10, it’s not the hoarder who suffers; it’s whoever comes after them to clean up,” says a very frustrated Bill L. of Colorado, who’s been working to clean his mother’s home, located in a different state, for almost five years. (She suffered a stroke and has since moved into assisted living.) It took a dozen people, and eight Dumpsters, to clear out the first floor. Still to go: the second floor, a large attic, a basement, a garage, and a storage locker that Bill says should be easy, but may not be.

Often, hoarders are the only ones who know or understand their system of “organization,” keeping stock certificates amid expired receipts or diamonds amid a pile of junk jewelry. For survivors, the stress and strain related to the search itself may simply outweigh the potential of finding any objects with financial or sentimental value. Bill plans to return to his mother’s house soon with a professional cleanout crew. “That will mean forgetting about recovering anything of value,” he says, “including possible family heirlooms. If we tried to continue sifting the hoard, we’d still be at it 10 years later [and] we’d be jobless, homeless, and insane.”

Cory Chalmers, owner of California-based Steri-Clean, which provides help finding hoarding-remediation specialists around the globe, estimates a typical clean-up can range from $5,000 to $20,000 and beyond depending on the severity of the hoard, conditions inside the home, and regulations relating to the disposal of electronics and hazardous materials. His crews occasionally recover items of value that may help offset the cost of the cleanup. But more often than not, it’s a simple, yet massive case of quantity over quality. “Most of the elderly hoarders we work with all say the same thing: they’re saving this because it all has use, ‘I want to give this to my son, and this to my daughter, and this to my grandchild. [But] no one wants that crap,” he says, not without sympathy. “What they see as this big investment to pass on is really a big stress on families and not even worth it. A lot of them don’t want it. They’d rather just walk away.”

Nesting or Hoarding?

Stigma of Hoardin

Hoarding, Nesting

This article takes a close look at the many different types of behaviours involved in hoarding.  I hope you enjoy  this perspective written by  Jean Oliver  http://www.nexusnewspaper.com/2013/01/24/cluttered-pearls-the-stigma-of-hoarding/

Children of Hoarders

An Unwanted Inheritance

For children of hoarders, the mess remains after their parents pass away.

Newsweek  by Hannah R Buchdahl

“Greg Martin wasn’t sure what to expect when his mother died last May, forcing him to return to his childhood home for the first time in nearly 18 years. The house, located on a pleasant block in San Diego, had always been cluttered, but now it was virtually uninhabitable. “There were piles as tall as me, six feet or so,” Greg said. “Where there used to be floor, there were trails—a foot and a half high, so you’d
be walking on stuff.” Greg was forced to navigate through piles of magazines, papers, and books, plastic bags filled with thrift-store purchases, expired medicine bottles and literally tons of clothes. The only “living space” was a small pocket by the front door, where his mother, a colorful and fiercely independent woman, had collapsed shortly before her death at the age of 83. Greg, who has taken a leave of absence from his job, expected that cleaning out the house would take six months. It’s now been eight—and counting.”   This is a great article click here to read the entire article.

http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1G1-247986923.html

Do you have a Relative that is a Hoarder?

Are you concerned about how to help a hoarder or what might happen after they pass on?  This article may help you think over some of the issues that you might need to plan for in the future.  There are organizers who specialize in working with hoarders.  Check out the Institute of Chronic Disorganization http://www.challengingdisorganization.org/

http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/2011/01/26/an-unwanted-inheritance.html?goback=%2Egde_1804815_member_203572267

Hoarding

Here is a good article on hoarding.  Why do people like to live with so much stuff? If you find yourself in this situation please contact me at julie@mindoverclutter.ca

Are you a Digital Hoarder?

Many organizers will suggest to clients how have too many files, paperwork, CD’s, DVD’s and photos to digitize the information and put it on their computer, iPad, Ipod, MP3 player.  Before you continue to save everything sort through it and keep what you need and love.  Here is a great article on this subject, http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865562368/A-virtual-mess-Are-you-a-secret-digital-hoarder.html

 

Hoarding

 

Here is a great article about living with the overwhelming need for stuff.  If you are a hoarders or live with  ahoarders this information may help you to better understand the situation. 

 

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/health-and-fitness/health/conditions/hoarding-living-with-the-overwhelming-need-for-stuff/article4395448/

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