Clutter And Seniors

clutter and seniors

We recently received a request from a person who wanted to discuss the effects of clutter on seniors, specifically Diogenes syndrome.  Diogenes syndrome, also known as senile squalor syndrome, is a disorder characterized by extreme self-neglect, domestic squalor, social withdrawal, apathy, compulsive hoarding of garbage or animals, and lack of shame. Clutter can have a dramatic impact on the lives of seniors with 1 in 20 seniors having tendencies consistent with hoarding. I think you will find her blog to be interesting, especially if you have a senior in your life.

Watching Out for Diogenes Syndrome in Seniors

It can be very hard to part with things we think we may need in the future, yet learning to let go of what we don’t have room for, is one of the first steps to a neat, tidy and hygienic home. If you have an elderly relative and you notice that they tend to hoard things, it’s important to understand that this can be very common; studies show that around one in 20 seniors have hoarding tendencies. Sometimes hoarding behavior can be extreme, or be accompanied by self-neglect, social withdrawal, and squalor. If so, your loved one may need specialist help, often a combination of pharmacological and psychological treatments, closely related to treatment for obsessive-compulsive treatment.

When does Hoarding Amount to Diogenes Syndrome?

Diogenes syndrome is characterized by the above-mentioned behaviors, in addition to a lack of ‘shame’ or sense of embarrassment about these extreme behaviors. clutter and seniorsIt was coined after Greek philosopher, Diogenes, a Greek philosopher (412-323 BC) who expressed contempt for social organization and promulgated the advantages of a lack of shame. It can exist on its own, or be a secondary effect of mental illnesses such as depression, schizophrenia, dementia, or alcoholism. It is also commonly associated with Obsessive-Compulsive Behavior (OCD)

Diogenes syndrome, which has an average onset age of 75, can be very hard to deal with for family members of affected seniors, since it is accompanied by an inability to attend to basic needs such as nutrition and hygiene. In very extreme cases, it can result in anemia, skin conditions and malnutrition. Seniors can also pose a fire risk for themselves and others, which is why it is important that seniors obtain professional help if extreme hoarding behaviors and other symptoms are noticed.

Hoarding can sadly involve animals; rescue organizations often find cats, dogs, and birds hoarded in homes, as well as dead animals buried beneath furniture and other hoarded items.

How to Help those with Diogenes Syndrome

Because seniors with extreme hoarding behaviors tend to be socially reclusive, it can be very difficult to convince them to see a doctor to obtain diagnosis and treatment, but efforts should be made in this sphere, since treatment can be life-saving. clutter and seniorsTests carried out when this syndrome is suspected include cognitive and malnutrition tests. Specialists will help set up a management plan, which may sometimes lead to institutionalization if the person is mentally ill or has dementia, legal interventions to determine competency, and the involvement of a public guardian or trustee. Experts always aim to balance the right to autonomy with responsibility for the affected senior. If possible, the person is sent home, but cognitive behavioral therapy and other treatments are usually prescribed, and affected seniors are encouraged to start making small changes that can increase in scope as time goes by. When hoarding is severe, family members should abstain from forcibly entering their loved one’s home and throwing things out, since Diogenes patients become increasingly depressed by this type of invasive action and begin hoarding new items in a short space of time.

Diogenes Syndrome involves much more than being untidy or collecting things; it is an extreme behavior which most often occurs in individuals aged 75 or above, and which can be accompanied by other illnesses, including dementia. The consequences of Diogenes Syndrome can be severe, but invasive action should be avoided, since it can worsen symptoms. Seniors should be gently referred to specialist services, so that treatment can begin as soon as possible.

Our guest blogger is Cassie Steele. Cassie lived through this with her parents and is now the content editor for a small senior care and information website. For more information, here is a link to her guide on this topic –

ClutterBGone has assisted many seniors with reducing clutter, downsizing and life transitions. Contact us here to see how we can help your loved ones.

organizing your kitchen

De-clutter and Organize to Improve Your Home Appeal for Sale

organizing with multi generation families

Spring will be upon us before you know it. Talk to any senior real estate agent in Toronto and they will tell you it’s the best time to sell your home. If you’re one of those selling your home there are quite a few things you can easily do to improve the re-sale value of your home.

Organize by room

Don’t panic. Start your organizing early and work on one room at a time. You may have lived in your home for a while so it may feel daunting. Don’t get the urge to scurry from room to room. Set up regular donation drop offs or pick up dates, so things don’t get left in the house too long giving it a cluttered look. ClutterBGone has helped many families with their moves to make this time less stressful.

Create space

Any real estate agent will tell you that space is very important to a potential home buyer. They will look in your closets and cupboards to see how much space there is for their items. An organized, decluttered space will look larger than it seems.Organized closet

Horizontal surfaces

Horizontal surfaces are magnets for clutter. It’s too easy for you to put things down on the kitchen counter or an occasional table when you get home. Get out of this habit and make your home look organized and clutter free.

The dreaded closet

Do you have one of those closets that you don’t like to open? We are often called with a mess S.O.S. to assist with those beasts. Organized closets can help sell your home faster. An unorganized and cluttered closet gives the look of reduced space. Let us show you how to organize your closet and make the best use of the space you have and get you more money for your home.

Maintenance is a must

You maintain your car. You maintain the exterior of your home. Your home interior is no different. Take 15 minutes a week to tour the house and have things put away that may be where they don’t belong. Don’t be afraid to get on the case of other family members too, they create the clutter as much, or even more than you do.

An organized home with the appearance of a lot of space can gain you thousands in the selling price of your home. ClutterBGone has helped many clients prepare their home for sale as well as packed and organize for their move. Click here to learn how we can prepare your home for sale and make you thousands of dollars in return.


5 Questions You Should Ask A Professional Organizer

I just got back from a Professional Organizing conference and I can tell you this business is booming! There was so much more that we learned. With most families having dual incomes there seems to be more money to spend on things you don’t want or like to do yourself. This saves you time to do the things you really want to do. Also, many families are now downsizing to smaller homes as they get ready to retire and don’t have the knowledge or ability to downsize themselves, and don’t want to take things with them that they know they will not need. Lastly, many seniors are transitioning from their own homes to seniors’ residences or living with family and again need help with the move. As this business grows so too do the companies and individuals that provide the service. I really want to work with informed clients so I put together this list of questions that you should ask any Professional Organizer that you are thinking of hiring.

What are your qualifications?

Here in Canada there is a professional organization for professional organizers called the POC – Professional Organizers of Canada. Members are bound by their code of ethics to ensure that you receive trusted, confidential and committed service. We are trained and certified in organizing and downsizing techniques and have access to the latest trends and organizing items.

Do you have insurance?

Much like movers, Professional Organizers should carry their own liability insurance to cover accidents or damage however caused. Of course we are all careful in our work but you never know when an accident can happen and if it does you want to ensure that you and the organizer are covered. After all, it is your home we are coming in to.


Make sure you have a complete understanding of what you are being charged and for what services. An hourly or a job rate can vary but the least expensive quote may not be the best. How many people are working on the project? How many hours are estimated to complete the project? What is your protection if the estimate far exceeds the projected time or cost? An experienced Professional Organizer can be fairly accurate in their estimate and will keep you updated on any changes.

How long have you been doing this?

I recently spoke to someone whose main occupation was that of a cleaning lady and she came upon an opportunity to help a client downsize. She called looking for tips on how to help someone downsize (I did not give her any!). It was obvious she had never done this before and after I got off the phone I remember thinking how this potential client may be feeling after the job is done. Like any other business it is difficult to get started and to get some experience under your belt, but if you have a big job that needs to be done ensure that whoever does it is experienced.

Do you have references?

You would be amazed at the number of people that are embarrassed to ask for references. Get three and call one or two. Be sure to ask them at the end if they would hire them again if required and if not, why not?

So those are the must ask questions when you are looking for a Professional Organizer to help with your project. Just like ClutterBGone, ensure they are certified, insured and experienced and have references to back it up. Contact us when you are ready to begin your project in the GTA. We are ready for your questions!

organizing your kitchen

New Home Building And Space


New home building spaceClutterBGone, your home organizers in Toronto, have been to many newly built homes and we’re constantly amazed at how little thought goes into storage when designing and building new homes. Sure, you get closets and pantries and kitchen cupboards but regardless of whether your home is a small condo in Toronto or a large estate home in Aurora, more thought needs to go into how you’re going to store your belongings to get and stay organized.

The ceiling is the limit

Think height when you design new homes and where you will be storing your items. Nine-foot ceilings, and higher, offer a lot of potential space for storage but ensure you have incorporated accessibility as well. Shelves, racks and cabinets can all be installed to take advantage of wasted space.


The kitchen is the most used room in your home and is normally the most disorganized and cluttered even when you have loads of cupboards and shelving. I would never build a home without slide out shelves in the kitchen cupboards and pantries or rotating turntable in every corner cupboard.New home builders space

Slide out shelves allow you to bring everything to you without having to play Tetris knocking thing over just to find what you want. Putting items away and keeping them organized is so much easier as well. A turntable that comes in various sizes eliminates those hard to reach areas in the cupboard. You know the ones I mean. The areas where we literally toss items into and hope we don’t need them again for a long time.

As professional organizers working in Toronto, Oakville, and York Region, we’ve worked on many new builds to ensure that the space being designed will actually work for the belongings you own. When designing your kitchen, it’s a good idea to call in a professional home organizer before the design/execution process.

The laundry room

Putting laundry rooms on the top floor, where all the laundry is created, was one of the greatest things builders have done. I hope you aren’t one of the unfortunate ones who still must travel to the basement to do laundry.New home building space

A shelf or cupboard in the laundry room should also be a standard feature. Having an organized laundry room with a space for your cleaning aids, ironing board and other items helps you stay organized in this area from day one. Ensure any cupboard shelving is high enough to contain those large laundry products.

What you can do

Know the space that you’re moving into. Many clients that we’ve worked with haven’t allowed for smaller bedrooms, and when they put their huge king-size bed with their large headboard and the rest of the matching furniture in there it just doesn’t fit. This leads to an unorganized and cluttered room.

Work with your home organizer and home addition contractor to make the rooms that are important to you larger with better storage for all your clothing items. Add to a walk in closet by reducing the size of a guest room. Add a pantry to the kitchen by eliminating a closet. Think about the space you need and what’s important to you. It will be too late during the final inspection tour or when you have moved in.

ClutterBGone, home organizers have an eye for space and can help you get organized before or after your move. For your mess SOS contact us to learn more about how we can assist you with your new home organization.

7 Tips For Keeping a Small Space Organized

organized condo

My last trip into downtown Toronto opened my eyes to the number of condos going up in the city (and in many others) and the small spaces that we are now living in. Whether you have downsized into a condo for ease of upkeep or whether you choose to live in a condo to be close to work or a downtown area, it can be tricky to keep a small space organized. Here is a list of tips to help you do just that.

Floor to ceiling

organized condoUtilize all the space you have including your vertical space. Nine foot ceilings (or higher) allow for you to store above cabinets and furniture. Don’t forget the space above your doorways – great for shelving!

Use your imagination

Sliding drawers under beds, storage boxes under furniture, baskets over cabinets can all be incorporated into your storage plans. ClutterBGone has shared many of our ideas that we have gained over the years with many clients living in small spaces.

Offsite storage

We don’t often suggest this but sometimes there are items you just cant part with for a variety of reasons and you just don’t have the space for them in your living space. Offsite storage companies have become increasingly popular for just this reason, especially if your unit does not come with a storage locker.

Prioritize what you need

This is tough and this is where a Professional Organizer really comes in handy. organized condoYou need to really make tough decisions on what is needed and what is nice to have. What do you really have space for? When is the last time you used it or wore it? Prioritizing and making decisions will be the toughest part of the downsizing and organizing process. We have the expertise to make the downsizing process much easier.

Store it where you use it

One of the processes that we at ClutterBGone use is to determine how you operate in your space. Are you left handed or right handed? Do you cook a lot? Is everything you need within reach? We ensure that what you need and use daily is stored for easy retrieval and access.

Keep it tidy

Take 5 minutes a day, whatever time best works for you, and use this time to tidy up and put things away. It is so easy and it takes so little time for things to get out of hand and before you know it you’re clutter has the best of you.

Rethink that purchase

No matter what it is I always walk away from a purchase to rethink it. Do I love it? Do I really need it? What will go out to replace it when I get home? As yourself these questions to save clutter and quite possibly a few dollars.

Living in a smaller space can be a challenge for many of you. Get organized and control your chaos!

5 Clever Steps To Downsize & Ease Your Mind


Downsizing is more than just a term to throw around for liberating yourself of items when you no longer have enough space. Downsizing is essential to most of us at some point in our lives. Whether you’re moving yourselves into smaller quarters due to aging or moving closer to the city where house prices are higher and therefore you get less for your money, we are all going to downsize at some point.

Have you seen those reality shows where people try to move into the smallest homes they can find? Do you wonder how they do that? Here are some guidelines that will assist you when the time comes for you to downsize.

Do I really need that?

That is the first question to ask yourself. The fact that you need to ask the question is telling you something. Take a good look around and make a list of everything that you just can’t live without. Now look at what’s left and ask yourself that same question.

If you have not used an item for over a year chances are you really don’t need it. downsizeHow about that chair that you “inherited” from a family member? Saving it for the kids? They are not likely going to want it either, so why not donate it to someone who can truly appreciate it now? Be practical knowing that space may be at a premium for you.

What about those duplicates?

Again, make a list. Are you moving in with someone? What do they have that you already have and vice versa? Go over this list before the move and decide what is coming with you, as good intentions tend to fly out the window after you have settled in. How about your dishes? Have duplicates there? Everyday dishes, “good” dishes, dishes packed away somewhere? When is the last time you entertained for a large gathering? Do you need enough wine and beer glasses for a sorority party or is rental an option? It may be time to pare them down.

Donate, gift or cash?

A lot of items that you no longer need can be used by many charities to help others in need. You can check on line for charities in your area. Many will have a free pick up service and will make good use of your items.

Your children may have their eye on a special item that you have or perhaps they could use an extra chair or table now. downsizeGive some thought to gifting to them now rather than later so you can see them enjoying your items. You can always sell what you no longer require as well. You worked hard to downsize so why not sell the items and use the cash for something you have always wanted? Go ahead, treat yourself.

Have the tools ready

When moving into smaller quarters you will have to think like a professional organizer. Containerize when you can and use clear plastic containers so you can easily see what is stored inside. Lazy Susan’s are great to take advantage of minimal cupboard space and double up your storage in your closets with extra closet rods.

Maintenance is key

Once you have completed the task of downsizing you will wonder how you lived with everything you did. Remember the number one rule – one in = one out. Regardless of what it is but especially with clothing, when one comes in select a similar item to go out. Schedule periodic times to take stock of what you have and what you can do without.

To learn more about how ClutterBGone can assist you with your downsizing dilemmas, simply contact us here. We would love to have a chat.

Do You Really Think You Are A Hoarder?


Many of our clients refer to themselves as “hoarders”. A lot of people use the term to describe others who have more possessions than they think they should have. Individuals that have been medically diagnosed as a hoarder typically require specialty services relating to de-cluttering and much more than just downsizing and organizing services.

What is Hoarding?

Hoarding is the overwhelming difficulty of throwing away or getting rid of one’s possessions. It is often classified as a compulsive behavior. The possessions could range from plastic bags to old newspapers and magazines. Regardless of the items accumulated the value of them are irrelevant to the owner. Those with this compulsive behavior accumulate a large quantity of possessions, which is what makes this behavior stand out in comparison to other people. The compulsive behavior, which is associated with hoarding, can also be related to compulsive buying, compulsive collecting of free items, or a compulsive search for the perfect item. An individual diagnosed with hoarding is unable to let go of any item, regardless of the value.

Hoarding is not to be confused with collecting. The behavior of collectors is often prideful in regards to their possessions and are proud to display their items. Collectors are also more organized than hoarders.

What are the Symptoms of Hoarding?

Individuals with a hoarding disorder often demonstrate severe anxiety when attempting to get rid of an item, or have the inability to discard their possessions to make space for new ones. hoardingThose affected with this compulsive behavior often find it difficult to organize their belongings, as they often feel unsettled about where to keep them. In some cases, they even feel unsettled about their possessions, and often act suspicious of other people touching any of the items. This compulsive behavior causes obsessive thoughts of their items whereabouts, or possibly not having enough of one particular item.

Why Do People Hoard?

The compulsive thoughts associated with hoarding are often that the individual believes they need the item for future use, feel a strong sentimental value towards it, feel it is irreplaceable, or they got such a great deal that they don’t want to throw it away. In some cases hoarding may be a disorder on its own; however, it is a common symptom of other disorders such as obsessive-compulsive personality disorder (OCPD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and/or depression.

How Does Hoarding Affect One’s Quality of Life?

Hoarding diminishes one’s quality of life considerably. Due to a considerable number of possessions, the hoarder’s living space may become unhealthy or even dangerous. Many hoarders will live without basic comforts, and cope with things such as broken appliances or furnace in order to avoid somebody coming into their living space to fix the problem. In many cases, this behavior causes issues among the individual’s family, from feelings of anger and resentment to depression. Hoarding can affect the social development of children who live in the space, and can have an impact on the family structure from divorce to loss of child custody. Hoarding can cause the living space to be unlivable, which may lead to eviction. Serious financial problems can occur as well.

What are the Effects of Hoarding?

As a result, hoarding behavior can be damaging and affects both the individuals with the hoarding behavior and their family members. hoardingThis behavior can affect those on many levels, including emotional, physical and social, as well as financial and/or legal. In some cases, due to the loss of living space because of the large quantity of items, the living conditions can cause health problems.

So you see, hoarding is much more than just being disorganized and having clutter in the home. Hoarders typically don’t see a problem with their behavior and rarely reach out for assistance on their own.

If you need help with your organizing and clutter challenges look no further than your professional organizing team at ClutterBGone. ClutterBGone is proud to serve Toronto and the Greater Toronto Area, including York and Durham regions. From home organizing and downsizing, to small office organizing, ClutterBGone is here to liberate you from your clutter!

How Do You Know It’s Time To Hire A Professional Organizer?

hire a professional organizer

Your lives are constantly busy with work and family. It seems life just keeps getting busier with no time for a lot of home maintenance or chores. You hire a gardener to tend to the gardens. You hire a cleaning service to clean the house. When do you know it’s time to hire a professional organizer?

Many people think of professional organizers for the chronically disorganized or something for people with sever hoarding tendencies. We do get calls for that but most of our calls come from busy professionals like you who need a hand to tackle problem areas or your whole home. So how do you know when it’s time to call in the pro’s?

You really have no time to spare

Between your career, your personal life, your time spent with your family and the many other things that tie up your life you just don’t have time to get everything done. hire a professional organizerThings have piled up and your life and home have become disorganized to the point where you know you can’t do it yourself. That is where we come in.

You feel isolated

Disorganization and clutter can lead to a reduced social life. You become embarrassed to have family or friends over for fear of what they may think. ClutterBGone has helped many clients regain control of their clutter and have seen their social life, and confidence, improve dramatically.

It’s becoming a safety hazard

We have had many clients reach out to us for their own home or on behalf of their parents because the clutter has become a safety issue. Too much clutter can be a trip or a fire hazard.

You spend too much time looking for things

This is a common complaint. According to Newsweek the average person spends 55 minutes a day looking for things they own but can’t find. I don’t know about you but I can think of a lot of things I would rather do with that time. Let us help you get some of your time back.

Are you feeling depressed?

Researchers at UCLA found that there is a definite link between clutter and depression. The more stuff we have the more stress women feel. hire a professional organizerFunny that it doesn’t hold true for men. Even families that want to reduce clutter often are emotionally paralyzed when it comes to sorting and pairing down objects. You either can’t break sentimental attachments to objects or believe your things have some hidden monetary value. At ClutterBGone we bring an impartial viewpoint to help you make those decisions and rid you of that stress.

If you recognize any of these signs then perhaps it’s time to bring in the reinforcements to get your home organized and clutter free. We’re easy to reach just click here.

Are You a Good Candidate for Virtual Organizing?

virtual organizing

Many of you know what a Professional Organizer does. We come into your home and work to organize and de-clutter the space(s) causing you the most grief and frustration. We work with you, side by side or we work independently and call you in when we need you to make decisions. It’s your call how involved you want to be.

With virtual organizing you’re working on your own with our guidance, coaching, instruction and support using today’s technology. Are you a good candidate for virtual organizing?

You’re ready

The first step of course is to recognize that clutter has affected you or your loved ones in some way and that you’re ready to take control of the clutter in your life.virtual organizing

You realize that you just can’t get it done yourself and that you need instruction, coaching and assistance.

You recognize the value of a professional organizer

Professional Organizers are trained to get your home and life in order to make life easier for you and to make your home as clutter free and productive as possible. During the transition we create systems and processes for you to follow so you can expect to maintain the same organization in your home after we leave.

You’re good at working independently

You need to be good at working on your own and be able to complete tasks on time. Part of the virtual organizing process is for the Virtual Organizer to follow up on your progress and assign agreed upon deadlines for having tasks completed.

You are “somewhat” familiar with today’s technology

You don’t have to be rocket scientist but you should be comfortable using any number of communication methods like Skype, Facetime or others. virtual organizingWe use a platform called “Zoom”. It really is easy to communicate with us so don’t worry, we will walk you through it if needed.

You live in an area that is not serviced by our profession

If you live outside of the traditional suburban areas chances are you won’t be able to find a professional organizer that serves your area. Virtual organizing to the rescue! Now everybody has access to a professional organizer and you can actually hire anybody you want from any part of the world (but I know you will choose ClutterBGone).

Work at your own pace, at your own time and at significant savings. If you feel you are a good candidate for virtual organizing, we have a variety of packages that will suit any requirement. Contact us here to learn more about virtual organizing.

The Key Benefits to Virtual Organizing

Virtual organizing

Virtual organizing is a new and growing trend in the downsizing and organizing industry. It’s not ideal for everyone who needs assistance in downsizing and organizing but great for many. Here are some of the benefits that can be realized through virtual organizing.

It saves time and money

Like any other professional service the cost of employing traditional assistance to downsize and organize can be outside of your budget. Virtual organizingVirtual organizing is less costly for several reasons. There are no travel costs for a professional organizer to get to your location.

With virtual organizing you are working with one fully trained professional organizer rather than having a team of 2 or more come to your home. Typically, we work in shorter time blocks resulting in less cost to you.

We run on your schedule

Regardless of the way we communicate, our hours are more available to our clients as we are not in traffic or on site at a daylong job. With sessions typically lasting only one hour it is easier to set a time to meet electronically.

Less pressure on you, the client

On many of our initial consultations we know you may be embarrassed with the state of your home. With virtual organizing we are seeing and working on only the part of your home that is currently giving you grief and that you want to work on.

It’s a good first step

For those that are hesitant about hiring a professional organizer, a virtual organizing session can give you an idea, at less cost, of how we work. Virtual organizing It will also allow you to get to know your professional organizer. After all, to be really effective you need to be able to trust and work well with anybody you hire.

You may realize that virtual organizing is not really your thing and therefore may require a traditional session with on site staff. Conversely, you may find that virtual organizing is the way you want to continue.

It is available to everyone

At ClutterBGone we have received a lot of inquiries from people outside of our traditional service area. We strive to service everyone who contacts us but in some cases unfortunately they are just too far away.

This new service allows us to serve anybody who requires our service regardless of where they are located.

Virtual organizing may not be for everybody but it is available to everyone. Contact us here to find out more and how we can assist you virtually!