Ten Years In The Trenches; What I Have Learned About Hoarding

For the last ten years, I have been organizing homes and offices. One of my specialties is helping hoarders find their way and establish some clarity in their homes. I have seen it all.

Sometimes I am successful in helping them making positive changes in their lives, other times not. There are days when I have cried on the way home because I haven't been able to help someone. I take my job way too personally at times.

Here are some valuable things I have learned in my journey to declutter the Chicagoland area:

* The hoarder has to be in control and feel in control. When I start working with a new client, I create a plan on how to handle the project. I confer with the client about where they want to start or what category they feel comfortable working on.

* The environment must be a positive and healthy one. Family members can get angry. I have had to pull many a family member in the garage and school them on the process. Everyone needs to put aside the anger and be there for support.

* Have the hoarder make a list of things that can leave the house. They also need to make a list on things that they are looking for and want to save.

* Sorting is essential. Categorize items. Its important that the hoarder see the full picture. One lady was shocked to find that she owned over 200 purses. After the categories are sorted, go through one at a time.

* Have boxes or bins on hand for keep items and sorting purposes.

* Get out those post it notes. Its important make sure things are clearly labeled.

* Make sure you carry a zip lock bag with you. Throughout your sorting, you will find money and jewelry.

* Go at the pace of the hoarder. I always tell people to tell me to slow down if needed. Everyone has a different pace.

Dehoarding a house can be a challenge for everyone involved in the process. Just remember that it takes time!!

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