I didn't get much sleep last night. Partially due to having an allergy attack from beiing in a moldy house and partially due to thinking about a new client. I started yesterday with a senior with severe hoarding issues.
In my eight years of organizing, this has to be the most severe case I have seen. I panicked everytime she walked down the crooked stair case with no rail! I worried about the heavy stench and her health( and I was the one sniffing and snorting).
Luckily, this story will have a happy ending. The client will be moving in with relatives and the house will be cleaned out. There will be limited space and a limited amount of what can be taken. The hard part now is going through the boxes and piles and making a determination of what to sell, toss, and donate.
Senior hoarding is a growing problem. They are the memory keepers of their family. If they start out in a big house, then they generally have room for their things. Then the downsizing begins. Time and health get away from them. They are worried that they might get rid of something that they might need.
The best way to approach this...slowly. Start a year ahead of time, before a move or transition is planned. Pack like with like. The situation that I am working in now, everything was tossed into boxes. No rhyme or reason here. So now, every box must be opened and evaluated.
Put them on a weekly plan. Set goals and deadlines for them. Start in one area at a time. Clear space for a staging area. Have boxes set up and ready to go for items that are being sold, donated, and given away.
One of the biggest problems in a senior's hoarded home is safety. Not only are there risks of falling or getting hurt( I too have come home at time with bruises) but also eating expired food.
Be gentle and let them know you are there to help!!