Monday, April 11, 2011

Helping Older People Get Organized

Recently, I offered to help my dad clear out his attic, which had housed treasures and stash for almost 50 years. He agreed, although I am sure he was ambivalent about it. I had offered help on previous occasions and he wasn't ready, yet.

In my mind, I established 3 goals of the project. The first was to begin. Yes, I said, simply to begin. I knew that it was an overwhelming task and one that was sure to bring up many memories and feelings. If he could simply begin the task of clearing out, that would be huge. The second goal was for Dad to feel good while he was doing it. I wanted this to be as positive as possible. I did not want to race through and force him to purge. I had waited a long time for him to be open to the idea and I wanted him to feel good about it so he would want to keep going. The third goal was for it to be a family effort (kids and grandkids) so Dad would feel supported and we would all be connected through the experience. I shared these goals with the family at the beginning of the project.

I am happy to say, that after about 4 hours, we met all three goals. We emptied nearly 2/3 of the attic; an awesome start. Dad's energy level and enthusiasm amazed me. Several times I asked him if he wanted to stop and he didn't even though I warned him that his muscles were going to hurt the next day (and I was right-- they did!). My third goal of family involvement was also met. It gave me great satisfaction to see my older daughter taking care of the younger two so we could work and to see my 16 year old son and 80ish Dad working side by side up in the attic. An huge airplane that my Dad had made around Matthew's age was uncovered, badly in need of repairs and lovingly passed on to Matthew for the job.

The airplane Dad made as a young man.
My approach when working with clients is basically the same.

1. Help them to begin.
2. Help them to feel good about the process.
3. Engage them in the process and support them along the way.

Of course, I apply organizing skills and principles during each session and if the three above goals are met, the whole project goes smoothly.

For help with any organizing project, Simply E-mail or Call Linda! 716-631-5619

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