Excerpt from “Life Without Limits” by Joan Kaylor (MSCD, LPC, DCEP) with special guest Ceri Binotto (Senior Move Manager) from Discover Organizing Inc.
Original airdate June 22nd, 2020
Life without Limits is a podcast hosted by Joan Kaylor that talks about different aspects of life and how people can grow and develop their habits as well as overcoming issues they may have with mental and physical health. “Life without Limits, because there are no limits to what you can achieve!” Ceri Binotto was chosen to talk about organizing and helping people with Hoarding disorder due to being a certified Senior Move Manager, repeat attendee of the National Association of Senior Move Manager Conference, and having multiple years of experience in her field.
Ceri, I value your services because as a Mental Health professional, I have tried helping people, not seniors as much, although I've had lots of calls from their children saying, “My parents are moving, they don't know where to start. My mother, my father, there's so much stuff in their home that at this point, they can't move anywhere...” And I was so glad to find you because I don't have enough patience. I just want to hire a dumpster, put it in the driveway, and get the family in there to throw everything out that the person gives permission to. Not that anybody would be doing this without their permission.
They normally don't want you to do that. That's the problem. If it was as easy as that, the kids would come in and do it themselves. But for most people, this is their life. That’s everything they've ever worked for, everything they've ever purchased, and to watch people throwing it in a dumpster would be heartbreaking.
How do you help with this life transition?
See, that's why you're the professional on this particular subject. With all your training, how do you help someone who is downsizing and going through this life transition?
As you said, we often get phone calls from children about their parents and they say “Here, I'm going to give you their number, can you call them?” The first thing we normally do is start by going to meet them. It's very important that we build a relationship because I'm going to be trusted in their life. For some clients, I've been in their lives for a year plus, so I have to be trusted. I like to meet my clients and take a look at their home. Are they moving to a one-bedroom, two-bedroom, or a studio? Because obviously that makes a difference in how much they're going to take with them. We normally come up with a game plan. So we would set up an appointment [for me to return to begin working with them] once they've met with me.
How important is space planning?
The first thing we really do is the downsizing process. We can measure furniture and do room placement because everybody thinks they're going to be able to squeeze two couches into this space. But it's not a reality, there's not going to be two couches, we have to get it down to one couch. It's helping the clients decide which are the most important pieces of furniture that mean the most to them that they can take.
Next is to really take a look at their rooms. I often start with a room that bothers my client the most. Yes, an attic makes sense. Yes, the basement makes sense. But if a client says to me, “I have this spare bedroom, and I just can't get into it; I can't think about it.” If I start somewhere that is really hard, by the time we're finished in three hours, the clients are so much happier. They're like, “Wow, I can't believe we did that.” So I think by tackling “the Hodgepodge” you make them see that it's not going to be as bad as they think it is.
I think a lot of folks feel overwhelmed.
When it doesn't belong to you, it's less overwhelming!
Store it, Trash it, Donate it
When I start, we always bring boxes and garbage bags, and this is great for anyone who wants to do it themselves. We put anything you want to keep in boxes, and we use garbage bags for trash because you know, we're gonna find some. And I always get clear bags for donations. If you're donating some items and you have them in clear bags, you're not constantly going, “which is my trash bag? which is my donation bags?” Take some markers so you can mark the boxes.
We always start left to right, top to bottom. You never want to go back once you've done it. If you have to go back because you're not sure about something, you can definitely leave it on the shelf. But once you've decided to donate it, we put it in the box or we put it in the bag, and when I leave I will take it all with me and take it to a Donation Center if the client wants. Some people are like, “Don't worry, I'll do it.” Other clients say “Would you do it for me?” So they have that option. And for a lot of people, that's such a sense of accomplishment that they got that done.