Is it Collecting or Hoarding?

How do you tell a hoarder from an enthusiastic collector? Hoarders collect things but collecting is not the same as hoarding. It is considered hoarding when things have accumulated to such a degree that it hampers proper use of a room and/or poses a safety risk. Hoarding is more properly defined as the  acquisition of and failure to discard a large number of possessions that appear to be useless or of little value. If you suggest getting rid of any of it the person reacts with fear or anger. Worse, if you do anything about it, like clean up while they are gone, you have made an egregious error and a breach of trust.

Some people have grown up in homes that were chronically overflowing with miscellaneous possessions and this was accepted as normal. Some of you may have cringed at the thought of bringing friends into your home because you knew your home was really far from normal. Very often it is one parent that is the hoarder and the other one accepts the situation in order to keep the peace. In other situations you notice that your aging parent is hanging on to inconsequential things that they normally would have thrown out such as junk mail and you wonder why.  In both cases the parents seem to lack insight into their situation and are unaware that this could be a problem for anyone else. Continue reading Is it Collecting or Hoarding?

“Before you can do anything, you have to do something else first.”

The Baby Boomer generation has different ideas about aging than their parents had. Boomers, in general, do not embrace the idea of going lockstep through the continuing care curriculum of independent living, on to assisted-living, and finally, to skilled nursing and/or dementia care. Also, most Baby Boomers haven’t laid up enough of a nest egg to carry them through retirement. Thus we all want to remain in our own homes as we grow old. The word is out and a whole range of products and services have emerged to serve that desire, from universal design, along with retrofitting the current home, to technology to monitor us. But what about the cultch that surrounds us? We’ve been shopping and inheriting stuff for decades. Before the carpenters can come in do their work, the space needs to be cleared to give them access.

I have seen the havoc and heartbreak which occurs when an elderly person gives up their home either voluntarily or involuntarily and I have concluded that the only way to lessen the pain and stress on everyone involved is to engage Seniors, when they are still cognitively in charge, in the decision-making process about what to keep and what to let go. With “The Accidental Hoarder” I intend to take the reader through the steps involved in ‘curating the stuff’ until what remains contributes to the life you want to lead now.

Will You Age in Place as an Accidental Hoarder or a Curator?

Could This Be You?

Edna fully woke up to her situation when she received a phone call from her grandson, Billy, a seventh-grader, asking if he and a couple of his friends could shoot some footage of her home for a documentary on hoarding as part of a school project. Edna knew she wasn’t a hoarder, but the topic is so much in fashion these days and, apparently to Billy, her home fit the criteria.

She knew that over the past four years since her husband, Arthur, died she had felt less and less inclined to deal with things. Her energy fluctuated and some days she felt too old and stiff to expend any energy on things that really did need her attention. She was aware that the number of items in her home had been increasing without any attempt on her part to determine whether they deserved the space they took up. Some of the items were things that she had purchased, even sometimes things she knew she already had but had no idea where they were. There were a lot of items that had been in her own or her husband’s family that were added when those parents died and their homes were closed out. There were even things belonging to her grown children that they had left behind when they moved on with their own lives. And then there were the gifts from every birthday, Christmas, and Mother’s Day that had been bestowed on her from family and friends. When had it become such an overwhelming burden?! Continue reading Will You Age in Place as an Accidental Hoarder or a Curator?

Murphy’s Law of Aging in Place

“Before you can do anything, you have to do something else first.”

The Baby Boomer generation has different ideas about aging than their parents had. Boomers, in general, do not embrace the idea of going lockstep through the continuing care curriculum of independent living, on to assisted-living, and finally, to skilled nursing and/or dementia care. Also, most Baby Boomers haven’t laid up enough of a nest egg to carry them through retirement. Thus we all want to remain in our own homes as we grow old. The word is out and a whole range of products and services have emerged to serve that desire, from universal design, along with retrofitting the current home, to technology to monitor us. But what about the cultch that surrounds us? We’ve been shopping and inheriting stuff for decades. Before the carpenters can come in do their work, the space needs to be cleared to give them access.

 

Be a Coach

adult daughterHave you ever thought of becoming a coach for your parent when he or she is faced with downsizing or even just bringing some order out of chaos? Here are four words to use with them as they go through their accumulations of stuff: no shame – no blame. Keep repeating it when you sense they are getting bogged down by the emotions that memories produce. No shame – no blame. No one gets through life without having some regrets. The mind tends to get hooked on memories that were negative or things that were left uncompleted. Casting blame or dwelling on guilt drains energy. Remind your parent that this is a good time to forgive someone else and forgive themselves. This is good soul work as well.