I recently returned from the National Association of Senior Move Managers conference – wow! I met some amazing people who go above and beyond in easing their clients’ anxiety about downsizing and moving. We shared lots of stories, but there was one in particular that inspired me the most. Sharon, an experienced Senior Move Manager in Florida, had been hired to move a woman who was a Level 2 hoarder. According to the ICD Hoarding Scale, that’s a household with clutter that obstructs key living areas. It also includes surfaces and floor piled with haphazard items, and non-sanitary conditions. Not the ideal job!
Hoarding is a compulsive condition that has a strong emotional anchor, and downsizing is the enemy of a hoarder. So when Sharon had been hired by the woman’s family to move her and her primary belongings to an Assisted Living Community, she knew it wouldn’t be easy. Sorting through her client’s huge pile of belongings was the simplest part. Getting her client to allow her to remove the trash and worn out belongings was another matter, one that would require creating a high level of empathy and trust.
Part of the written contract stated that the move management company would “not remove any belongings from the house.” This agreement was the only way the client would allow Sharon and her team into her house. The move management team took a step-by-step approach, but told the client that they might need to make adjustments to the contract as they progressed. After the woman agreed to let them “store” her trash in several black garbage bags, Sharon presented her client with an amendment that allowed them to remove the bags. The woman signed the amendment, and the trash was thankfully removed. After sorting through the client’s overstuffed closet, Sharon returned again with another amendment that said, “except for the clothes and shoes in black plastic bags”. Sharon’s team gratefully hauled those black bags out as well. This was gradually repeated throughout the home until the woman was ready to let go and move to a living space that was safer and more comforting.
Sharon and her team exemplified the spirit of honoring their client’s emotional needs while still keeping the project moving forward. Her creative, caring approach in this hoarding situation made her my heroine! It reminds me that the process of downsizing and letting go is not a straight line. As with any journey, downsizing moves forward, takes a detour down memory lane, refuels, then carries on down the road to a future that holds a promise of simpler pleasures. Keeping the person at the center of this process is our most important goal!
Downsize My Home offers a unique Downsizing System with coaching that empowers people to move forward to create a living space that fits their lifestyle and reflects their personality. For more information, visit their website at www.DownsizeMyHome.Biz