How to Talk to Your Aging Parents About Downsizing

When it’s time to talk to your aging parents about downsizing to a smaller living space or assisted living environment, the topic can often be intimidating to broach. Although the move may seem practical at this point in your mom or dad’s life, the idea of moving into a smaller space and getting rid of treasured possessions can provoke very strong emotions, particularly if the move is necessitated by aging or poor health. Here are a few tips for beginning the conversation on this challenging subject.

Start the Discussion Early

It’s never too early to start talking with your parents about how they imagine their future.  Your parents may believe that they will continue to manage in their current home as they age, and the transition will be easier if you begin talking about other options before a move is immediately necessary. The topic will likely require multiple discussions before you and your parents can reach a decision that you both feel comfortable with. Try bringing up an older friend or neighbor who has recently downsized, and talk to your parents about what decisions they would like to make if they faced a similar situation.

Share Your Concerns

Most parents respond well if you’re open and honest about why you think it’s time for them to downsize. Rather than being controlling and making choices for them, share your concerns about your parents’ current living situation.  Most parents don’t like the idea of their children worrying about them, and they’re less likely to feel defensive or upset if you express your fears and your desire for them to be as safe, comfortable and happy as possible.

Let Your Parents Stay in Control

Simply listening to your parents is far more important than figuring out what to say to them. Downsizing can be emotional for many older adults because the move makes them feel like they’re losing a certain amount of control over their lives.  Let your parents know that while you may make suggestions, the decision is ultimately theirs to make. Rather than imposing your assessment of their lives, ask gentle questions about their current living situation that will allow them to come to their own conclusions. If you’re discussing moving to an assisted living facility, your parents may have the option of living there for a short time, before making the final decision to sell their house. This way, your parents don’t have to let go of their current home and possessions until they feel certain that they can be content in this new living situation.

Talking to your parents about downsizing can be a sensitive subject.  Starting the discussion early and making the decision together can help your parent transition with dignity and with the confidence that they have your full support.  If you have any questions about downsizing, you can contact me at 905-642-5669.

To Keep or Not to Keep? Decisions To Make When Downsizing

senior-downsizing-torontoWhen it comes to helping aging parents downsize, one of the hardest things is dealing with their emotional attachment to items and making decisions on what to keep, sell, donate, or discard.  There are fond memories attached to many of these belongings and it can be difficult emotionally to let them go.

In this post we’ll look at some tips for helping your parents determine which items will work in their new place. Here are five important questions to ask when deciding:

1)    Does it fit into the new space?

When it comes to furniture and other belongings that take up a significant amount of space, be sure to measure, measure, measure.  Sometimes your eyes can deceive you, take the time to measure the new space before bringing along your furniture.   If it doesn’t fit, that automatically eliminates the option of keeping the item. Now you can choose between selling, donating, or discarding the item.

2)    Is it appropriate for the new lifestyle?

Sure, an item might fit, but another important consideration is whether the item in question “appropriate” for the new space your parents are moving into. Moving to a new location is a good reason to start fresh with some new and updated furniture and accessories.  Larger items like a formal dining room table, may have no place in the new home.

3)    How often will it be used?

How often an item is used is another big factor in deciding whether to keep it or not. Ask your parents: “when was the last time you used this?” If it hasn’t been touched in over a year, that’s a sign that the item will probably not be missed and should go.

Of course, there are some exceptions– for example, maybe the item in question is a family heirloom that’s more of a showpiece rather than something that can be used on a daily basis. In that case, if the new place can accommodate it, there is no reason for your parents not to keep it. Another option is to store the item or collection at another family member’s home rather than selling or donating.

4)    Is it useful today?

When deciding if you should spend the time and effort to sell something, it’s important to gauge whether the item is useful today. Trying to sell a low value item can create more headaches than simply giving it away.  Check Kijiji or Ebay for similar items to get an idea on selling price and if it’s worth the effort.

5)    Is it in good condition?

 Evaluating the condition of an item is especially important when it comes to sorting through clothing and shoes. Downsizing to a new home is the ideal time to also help your aging parents downsize and de-clutter their wardrobes.  Some older items may not be worth the move and can be put to better use by donating it.  It’s also a great reason to treat your parents to a little shopping trip to celebrate the move!

small-condo-toronto

 No doubt, the downsizing process can be overwhelming. The most important thing to take away here is to be understanding that your parents may not want to get rid of certain sentimental things, but at the same time be realistic to ensure that they are not bringing unnecessary clutter to their new place.

If you have any questions about downsizing to a smaller space, feel free to contact me here or leave a comment below.

5 Times When You Need a Professional Organizer

unorganized-home-torontoProfessional organizers are passionate about helping people eliminate clutter from their lives. We’re a creative bunch and we thrive on enhancing spaces, making life changes easier, and providing inspiring ideas. How do you know if you need a professional organizer? Here are five common scenarios:

1)    Lack of time

Work, kids, pets, cooking…and a space that desperately needs organizing. If this sounds familiar, a professional organizer may be just what the doctor ordered. Nowadays, families are busier than ever. It’s no wonder that organization can sometimes fall lower on the priorities list than you’d like. A professional organizer can assist you when you don’t have the time, manpower or ability to handle an organization project on your own.

2)    Emotional Attachment to Belongings

We’ve all seen the show “Extreme Hoarders” on TLC.  While that show truly is…extreme, lots of us have an emotional attachment to our belongings and have trouble getting rid of certain things. For instance, you might be going through a bereavement process where you’re struggling with the question of “how do I even begin to sort through my treasured items and memories?” A good professional organizer is sensitive and realistic, and can turn highly subjective decisions into easy objective ones.

 

3)    Facing an Organizing Task that’s Overwhelming

Maybe you’ve been using your basement as a “storage space,” but now it’s starting to resemble a dumping ground. And your in-laws are visiting from out of town. Don’t panic! A professional organizer can expertly help you assess, organize and virtually transform what was a dumping area into a fantastic use of space that will allow you to stay organized.

 

4)    Dealing with a Small Space

Dealing with a small space isn’t easy. Whether you’re moving your teen into a tiny dorm room or didn’t get the walk-in closet of your dreams, a professional organizer can provide inspirational and practical ideas. With their help you can make the most of your small space.

 

5)    Need to Downsize

Downsizing yourself or your aging parents to a smaller home or condo can be intimidating and time-consuming. This stressful process requires critical decision-making since your new space may not be able to accommodate all of your possessions.  Preparing to move is a perfect opportunity to de-clutter and edit your belongings before you start packing.

 

A professional organizer can help by visiting your new home and providing space planning solutions. They can also assist with packing and unpacking, including: sorting, sale, donations, re-cycling and disposal of unwanted items. In your new place, a professional organizer will organize and create storage solutions for easy retrieval. They will also ensure that the new place is set up and organized with comfort, safety and accessibility in mind.

 

Remember, professional organizers have seen it all and nothing excites us more than a cluttered space! You should never feel embarrassed or ashamed of getting extra help. Your beautifully organized space will thank you. 

If you live in Toronto or the surrounding GTA and have questions about organizing, de-cluttering or downsizing, you can contact me here.

 

5 Practical Ways To Help Your Parents Downsize

Downsizing for seniors having garage saleThink back to when you faced the challenge of moving out of your parents’ house and into your first college dorm room or apartment. Downsizing all of your possessions into this smaller space seemed overwhelming and impossible, right? Your parents most likely feel the same way now that they are about start the process of downsizing from the family home to a smaller apartment or assisted living facility.

Whether it is to save money, reduce cleaning and property maintenance time, or for safety and aging reasons, the fact remains that downsizing is easier said than done. To make the process less stressful on your parents, here are five practical ways that you can help them:

 

Pick up any items that you are storing at your parents’ house

Many of us are guilty of using our parents’ house for extra storage, but once they decide to move to a smaller place, this has to change. Your college textbooks and prom dress definitively have to go!

 

Help your parents determine which items will work in their new place

While this can get very sentimental and overwhelming, try your best to focus on being realistic about which items will a) fit into the new space (measure, measure, measure!) and b) are appropriate for their new lifestyle (a formal dining room table, for instance, is usually not necessary in a condo). Be understanding that your parents may not want to get rid of certain sentimental things, but at the same time be as realistic you can to ensure that they are not bringing unnecessary clutter to their new place.

Neatly organized and labeled moving boxes

Help your parents sell and donate items that will not work in their new place

Selling gently used furniture, cookware, clothes, and etc. will not only help prevent clutter in your parents new place, but will also generate some cash to spend on new items that will work better in the new property. If your parents’ street is garage sale friendly, that may be a great option. Otherwise, eBay and Craigslist are always a safe bet and parents that aren’t completely comfortable with technology would appreciate your help in setting up an account and listing items for sale. If you can, take the time to donate items you are unable to sell to a place such as Goodwill or a charity, rather than throwing them out.

Consider hiring a professional organizer

Hiring a professional organizer can be tremendously helpful at any point of the downsizing process. He or she can assist with the sorting process and determining which items should stay and which items should go, packing for the move, and preparing items for a garage sale or donation. A professional organizer can also assist with unpacking in the new place and ensuring that things are organized properly and easy to find right from the start.

Reassure your parents

Leaving behind a home where a family was raised and memories were made is very difficult and emotional for some folks. Reassure your parents that they are making the right decision and that this will be a wonderful new chapter in their life. Help your parents look at the move in a positive light and do not criticize them at any point in the process.
I hope these tips make the downsizing process a little easier on both you and your parents. Best of luck to your mom and dad with the move and settling into their new place! Let me know in the comments below if you have any other suggestions from your own experience.

 

Part 3 of Organizing a 2 bedroom home

Before afterWell, we’re back at Ms. E’s home and she was so excited to tell me about all the meals she’s been cooking and how it’s now so super simple for her to walk into her storage room and retrieve whatever she needs.  No more hunting though piles on the floor!

Finalizing the kitchen set up.

The next step was to finalize the kitchen with the organizing products I purchased on her behalf.  We created a lot more space in her panty using clear acrylic bins to contain her sauce packages and packages of spice, as well as to contain things like nuts, rice and pastas.  We even got all her vitamins and supplements off the kitchen counter and behind a cupboard within easy reach for her everyday use. I also mounted her kitchen green bin on the inside of her cabinet door and placed a new slim line recycle and garbage bin inside her cabinet.  Ms. E. now had compost, recycle and garbage all under her counter, out of sight and easy to reach.

Onto the Living/Dining Room?

Ms. E’s current dining room was a catastrophe.  She barely had room to walk around, never mind to eat on the table.  It was piled with boxes of papers, bags from various stores still filled with items purchased and never removed, various miscellaneous items and lots of junk.  The floor was almost completely covered with clothing and a ton or merchandise from her sideline business she had been operating.  In reality, her home was so disorganized and chaotic Ms. E. was actually unable to run her business because her products and supplies were almost unreachable.  One of her goals was to get back to it and I was going to help her reach that goal.

The dining room was jammed with too much furniture, some of it hand me downs from others and the set up of the entire living and dining room cut off the entire space so it looked much smaller than it actually was.  Ms. E. also had an office area set up in the living room that was not at all functional or efficient. Our goal was to move her office to the spare bedroom, set up and organize her living area and dining area so she could finally entertain in her home.

Need to open up some space.

In order to begin to work on the living/dining area, we first needed to open up space and perform a temporary organization set up in the spare room, enabling us to then move the office furniture and related items in.  Lots of items found in the spare room were targeted for donation.  There were two dressers and a tall filing cabinet in this room which were crammed full of various items in no order whatsoever.  Every single item was removed and sorted so that Ms. E. could make decisions on whether to toss, donate, sell or give to friends or family.  Excess furniture was also removed from this room and placed on her front lawn by the curb.  Within minutes some students from the private school across from her home were happy to retrieve an old style tube TV, coffee table and some chairs as well as an old dining table (Ms. E. had two of these).  That’s one way to donate!

It wasn’t long before the spare room was ready. Now it was time to create some space in the living/dining area so that we could move things around and into the spare room.  I was simply thrilled to work on this particular project and couldn’t wait for the next session.  My client felt the same.

Attacking the dining room first

Getting back to our client’s home for the next session couldn’t come fast enough for me.  An old dining room server was removed completely, some broken lamps discarded and about 4 bags and boxes of items for donation were loaded in Ms. E’s car.  We filled 3 large blue bins with paper recycling and another bankers’ box full of paper to be shredded, plus another 2 bags of trash were put out to the curb.  With the excess items and furniture out-of-the-way we were able to start sliding furniture from the spare room out into the living room and then the office furniture from the living room into the spare room.  My plan was coming together nicely.  The entire space was opening up and for the first time Ms. E. could see how large her living/dining area really was and was able to visualize the end result!

All the business related items, office supplies, craft supplies, wrapping supplies and gift items were allocated to the spare room.  We moved one of the low chest dressers into the living room for storage and for a place for a new television.  A love seat that was previously in the spare room was moved into the living room together with an occasional chair and another coffee table that Ms. E. has hiding under a pile of stuff.  All the furniture was strategically placed for entertaining, keeping an open concept for conversation.  The dining room was rearranged and a large wall unit that had previously been acting as a separator between the living/dining area was relocated to a wall along the dining area.  That unit was then used to house a wonderful collection of books and other decorative items, giving the space a completely new look and feel.  We even hung pictures on the wall which had been sitting on the floor for the past 3 years. Now the entire living and dining area was completely organized, decorated and ready for entertaining! See the before and after, above!

 

Organizing a 2 bedroom home – Part 2

Misc_UnderSinkMessy1Following my last blog post we continue with organizing our client’s small 2 bedroom apartment. Our first working session began a week after the initial consultation and needs assessment.

Storage shelves start us off on the right foot

We started with bringing in three 5 shelf storage units to be used in the storage/dryer room.  We then pulled everything out of the room, uninstalled the existing shelf and rod and then erected and placed our new units along the perimeter of the room.  This was an instant facelift with 8 times more storage capability than previously available. Once the items we pulled from the room were sorted and pared down, then set up specific zones on the shelves for different categories.  As our client was a sports enthusiast, we had a category for swimming gear, camping gear & general sports, as well as zones for cleaning accessories, kitchen overstock, footwear, paper goods and laundry.  We also installed hooks on the available wall space to hang up other sports gear, chairs and sports bags.  In a tiny room such as this one, making the most of every inch of available wall space was critical.

We made sure to have a few empty shelves as well in order to accommodate other items we knew would be moving into the storage room as we processed the rest of the house over the ensuing weeks.

Lastly, we dealt with the tangled mess of brooms and other cleaning equipment by installing a compact broom holder on the open vertical space on the wall, discarding the unused items and hanging up all the cleaning equipment, off the floor and within easy reach for the client.  No more frustration with retrieving a Swiffer mop and having a bunch of other items fall down!

Kitchen ware was excessive

The kitchen was next on the agenda.  Notably, our client had not really been cooking in her kitchen due to the lack of available space and cooking area.  This was a major concern for her so our goal was to ensure that once we were done she would be in a great position to begin cooking once more.

Over the past couple of years Ms. E. has accumulated an excessive amount of dishware that was kindly handed over to her from others.  Without being able to say no, her cupboards were overrun with duplicate items not needed and never used.

As we sorted all the dishware into categories the duplication was evident and this made it much easier for Ms. E. to make decisions as to what to give away for donation.  Often times if we can’t actually see displayed in front of us how much we have of one item we don’t realize the excess. With our methodical way of processing a room our clients are able to make clearly informed decisions.  We came armed with boxes and clear bags for donation and they were quickly filled by our client as we moved through the items.

Much of the food had expired

Once the dishware had been processed we placed items back in the cupboards in a more organized and functional fashion based on how the client moved throughout the kitchen performing various tasks.

Next was the food pantry and cupboards.  As it was been quite some time since our client was able to cook in the kitchen, it was not surprising that a number of food items were well past the expiry dates.

Mice!

Much to our client’s horror we also came across a good deal of mouse droppings evidencing a mouse issue.  Some holes in the cabinets were located under the sink where the mice were coming in.  Using some steel wool and some laundry dryer sheets (mice don’t like those) we temporarily plugged the hole until the landlord could deal with the issue.   Many food items were tossed out into the trash and any unopened items that had not expired but that the client no longer wanted were placed in donation boxes.  Once this step was completed we purposefully took all the trash outside together with the recycling and then placed all the donation items into our client’s vehicle so that the next time she was in her car she would be compelled to drop off the donations at her charity of choice.

Viola!  Empty shelves!

The next step in this process was to determine our method of containing some of the food items in the pantry.  Taking a cursory review of what was left I made a list of the organizing products that would be useful to maximize Ms. E’s pantry and cupboard space. We then organized the food into the cupboards and pantry and Ms. E. was quite excited to see that she actually had some empty cupboard space.  With this session nearing an end, we took our list and completed shopping of the items at our client’s request and on her behalf.

Just before I left our client’s site we discussed waste management in the kitchen.  This was important because the current method of garbage collection was taking up space on her floor and her counter top.  I suggested some cost and space efficient methods to contain compost, recycling and trash in the kitchen and included these items on our shopping list.

This way when we came for the next session we would be fully equipped with all the products needed to finalize the kitchen set up.  In the meantime, we left Ms. E. with a fully functional kitchen with plenty of space to not only store dishware and food items but also to cook.   She was so thrilled to be able to cook her first meal in a long time in her newly found kitchen space and that very night she did just that. In just one session we were able to make a huge change and began to transform her life.  Her smile said it all.  Stay tuned for what happened next.

Creating organization out of chaos in a 2 bedroom home

Dining LR Before The wonderful aspect of my career in organizing and downsizing with clients is the tremendous and positive feedback received during the entire process. One client in particular that I have been working with for the last few weeks has experienced an amazing transformation, both in her space at home and in her personal life in general.

Embarrassed and unable to enjoy her home

Before she picked up the phone to call me for help she had been living in her rented 2 bedroom home for a few years without being able to actually cook meals in her kitchen, sit down in her living room or work in her office. She rarely had friends or family over as she was embarrassed by the condition of her living space and felt socially isolated in this regard.  A professional career woman with an active sports life, she was not only rarely home to tackle an organizing project, but she was also challenged with complicated family and work issues that appeared to overcome her ability to live in a healthy and functional way.

The beginning of change

Her phone call to me changed her life. Finally being able to see the problem, having the support of family and being in a position to want change to occur she called me for an initial consultation and needs assessment.

She presented as a wonderfully kind and funny individual with a great sense of humour who was clearly struggling to get her life in order.  During the assessment she became quite emotional at times, identified her embarrassment at having me see her place in the state it was yet was excited to get the project started.

Where do we start?

It was easy for me to see where we had to start in her home.  There was an extremely limited amount of storage space available so creativity was the name of the game and we targeted the only actual “storage room” (the furnace/dryer area) to begin. This cluttered, small room was the first space one actually viewed when coming in the front door.  This room had no door itself and with no effective way to store items, everything was haphazardly tossed in with little room to even reach the dryer for laundry. It certainly was not a nice view for the client when coming home from a hectic day at work.

First order of business is to create some storage space

Therefore, before we could even start to organize any other space in her home we first needed to create some functional storage in this particular room.  It currently only had one small shelf and a hanging rod which was beginning to loosen from the wall. In the space was also the dryer, hot water tank, a plethora of sports equipment, clothes, cleaning supplies, foot wear and miscellaneous items that were not readily accessible.

It’s hard for me to explain how excited I was to begin this project. I had wished I could begin that very day however there was some planning to take care of, some homework to assign the client as well as some preliminary items for me to pick up on behalf of the client so we could get that particular space set up, organized and ready for the storage of items that were in fact relevant to this client’s current life.

My client was completely on board with the project, expressed a great amount of enthusiasm and we were both itching to get started! I’m so lucky to be able to make such positive change in my client’s lives. My next few posts will follow this project along as we give this wonderful lady her life back!

Organizing and Downsizing with Seniors: A Case Study – Final

unhappy seniorsDuring our last session with these clients we had completed the organization of their closet. The next focus for these wonderful clients was their guest room.  Unfortunately, over the last few years this room had turned into a catch-all for anything and everything that made its way to the second floor of this home.

The goal for our clients was to get the room in shape so that in the event family and friends were visiting and stayed over there would be a comfortable and safe place for them to sleep.  This included their much-loved grandchildren.

Another health hazard

From the amount of dust that had accumulated in this room it was clear that it had been impossible to clean with all the items that filled the room.  Dust was literally caked on most surfaces and the carpeting and was not only a health issue but it was clearly in dire need of a good cleaning.  Staining from spilled liquids was evident in many sections of the room.

Working with an organizing assistant we methodically sorted and categorized all items.  We brought in our working table and placed it in the hallway adjacent to the guest room, using it as a staging station for smaller items.  When working with older clients it’s very important that we don’t require them to continually bend to review items.  Therefore the table works very well for easy review of items we sort.

There was quite a bit of furniture in this room and many drawers to empty.  There was also a closet which required emptying as well as desks and side tables.

Anger and sensitivity

At one point Mr. X came up to the room needing to have a talk with me about Mrs. X.  She was apparently quite angry with him over the state of clutter in the home and in this room in particular.  She was feeling embarrassed by the dust and debris and Mr. X was feeling the strain in their relationship.  He was sincerely concerned about the level of anger expressed by Mrs. X and asked me whether that level of anger was “normal” in these situations and whether I had come across this type of behaviour before.  He stated that he had never seen Mrs. X this angry and he was quite worried about it.  It was also evident that he did not know how to deal with it.  My assistant, sensing the sensitive nature of my discussion with Mr. X, quietly left the room so that we could talk without Mr. X feeling embarrassed.

Organizers are often called to counsel clients as well

It’s not unusual that in my role as a professional organizer I also play the role of confidant, counsellor and teacher.  While Mr. X. shared his personal concerns I listened attentively, providing reassurance and understanding.  Only when he asked for advice did I actually provide him with some solid ideas to communicate with Mrs. X. in an open and understanding manner and help him to understand what was behind Mrs. X’s emotions.  He found this very helpful and later in the day he spent some time with Mrs. X working through some of the issues.

In the meantime, rather than be downstairs with Mrs. X., Mr. X preferred to give her some breathing room and time to cool down so he decided to stay upstairs with myself and my assistant.  It was as if being with us was a safe haven for him at that particular time.  It was easy for me to sense this by his actions, verbal and non-verbal clues.  I therefore provided him with some simple tasks for him to complete, keeping in mind his physical restrictions.  I did not want Mr. X. working in the guest room directly due to the thick dust and his respiratory issues so I made him comfortable in an adjacent room with a task that would keep him occupied and feeling useful until the air had settled between him and his wife.

By the completion of this session we had not only transformed the guest room into a functional space for visitors but also created various zones in the room for the storage of children’s toys, storage for Mrs. X and storage of extra linens. And just as important, Mrs. X. was thrilled with the results and was joking, teasing, smiling and cuddling up with Mr. X quite nicely.  He had a great big smile on his face when we left!  All was well once again.  Another happy client!

Organizing and Downsizing with Seniors: A Case Study Part 4

downsizing

You will recall that in my last post we had ended up discovering a sticky mess underneath all the items that had been piled inside the main floor storage closet. It seems to have been a result of pop cans leaking and pop bottles spilling over.

Mold problems

Due to the dampness of the floor from the pop leaks which I believe had existed for over one year, I also discovered some minor mold around one corner of the baseboard.  I quickly donned my face mask and warned my clients about the mold issue.  Although not a significant problem in this case, mold can be very hazardous to deal with as mold spores can enter the air causing serious respiratory issues.  Since my client suffered from asthma, this was especially concerning.  Being careful not to disturb the mold I continued to clean out the remainder of the closet and sprayed down the sticky mess with cleaning solution.  Due to the physical and mobility issues for my clients I didn’t want them trying to clean up the mess so I grabbed a scrub brush and spent a good deal of time removing the gunk from the floor.  No sense in getting a closet organized and leaving it dirty.  We always clean out a space entirely and do the job right.

Making decisions

With the closet cleaned and emptied and flagging the mold issue for my clients so they could have a contractor come in to properly and safely correct the problem, I brought my clients over to all the categorized items that were pulled from the closet and displayed around various staging areas I had set up in the house.  One by one they quickly made decisions as I bagged and boxed the contents that would not be placed back in the closet.

We ended up with 6 clear garbage bags and 4 large boxes of items slated for donation, plus 6 large green trash bags for garbage. Two boxes of items were also set aside for family members.

The next step was to return items back to the closet in an organized and efficient fashion and one where my clients could easily access what they required on a regular basis.  We ultimately organized this area into several zones.  One was for paper goods, such as paper towels, toilet tissue, Kleenex, paper plates and napkins.  We also had a zone for the storage of alcohol and related items, overstock kitchen house ware items as well as a zone for handy tools used frequently on that floor.

5 minutes to spare

When I was 5 minutes from the end of our 3 hour session the entire closet was organized and I was ready to move the trash items into the garage for the next curb side pickup.  Phew!  Before doing that I brought my clients over to the closet for the “reveal”. They were very thrilled with the outcome and quite surprised at how spacious it was.  I described to them how we created specific zones for the different types of items and explained how to maintain the system.

I then took the time to load my client’s vehicle with the donation bags and boxes so that they could bring the items to their charity of choice the next time they left in their car.  They ultimately left right after our session because they were so thrilled with the process and being able not only get the items out of the house but also to know that they would be going to a another home for someone else to use.

There was good feeling all around. It was decided that the next space on which to focus for this project would be the guest room.  I’ll tell you how we started on that project in our next post.  Stay tuned!

Organizing And Downsizing With Seniors – A Case Study Part 3

Organized_office_roundedIn my last post being Part 2 of this case study, I talked about how the organizing projects I do with my clients are like Disneyland for me.  I get quite excited going through the various spaces with my clients knowing that the changes we make will be transformational.

Continuing with the tour

Moving along with our tour of the issues of concern for my clients, the third room was a spare bedroom that had been taken over with a variety of household items. This room had become a dumping zone.  It’s not so unusual that, after getting home from busy day you drop items off wherever you happen to be and then forget about them.  The issue is that if this is done repeatedly over a long period of time, a space can slowly fill up to the point that you cannot even clean the room, dust or vacuum.  This then becomes a health issue.  This is especially true if you suffer from asthma or other respiratory issues. My clients wanted this room to be able to be used for grand children when they visited however it was absolutely impossible at the moment.  Clutter and dust littered every surface.

Safety issues are a real concern

Next up on the tour was the basement.  Going down the stairs we had to be careful because items had been placed on the sides of the stairs.  This is a real safety issue, particularly for older couples that may be challenged with mobility issues.  Tripping and slipping on items is a real concern.  Mrs. X. stayed upstairs while I toured the space with Mr. X.  There were pathways in which to make your way around the congested finished basement area however it was often necessary to step over items and manoeuvre.  It was evident that the basement project alone was a large undertaking, one that I was excited to dig into.

So the tour of the spaces was completed and we settled back up on the living room to talk about time estimates, costs and next steps.

Next steps

The scheduled session to begin the project focused on the closet space with the overflow pantry items.  During the consultation, in my mind I had estimated 3 hours to complete the organization of this space.  However when I returned for the actual session and opened the closet it seemed to me that there was at least another foot of items piled on top of what had already been there.  Either that or I had forgotten exactly what it looked like, which is entirely possible.  Often times I take photos of the space we are working on, not only for my own reminder purposes but also for education and training for my staff.  In this instance our client had asked that photos not be taken so we of course honored and respected that request.

Fast and furious to sort and categorize

I knew I had to work fast to completely empty the closet, sort and categorize all the contents and then work with the client to make decisions on what was to stay and what was to go. I worked crazy fast that day wanted to ensure I was out and finished in 3 hours as scheduled, but as I plowed through more and more items I discovered there was a bevy of alcohol bottles hidden on shelving so I had to move carefully.  When I reached the bottom of the closet several pop bottles and cans had leaked and burst so there was quite a sticky mess on the floor.

I’ll carry on with this case study in my next post and will talk about the final stages of the closet project and where we went from there. Stay tuned!

I wonder if any of you reading this post have every discovered a wet mess on the bottom of your closets?  Write in and let me know how you handled it.