Hoarding …taking their stuff to the grave

As a professional organizer, I have seen my share of hoarding situations.  Generally, I do not work with hoarders, but from time to time, something comes up that I have to handle. If you are a regular follower of my blog, you know I am a professional organizer who specializes in assisting people with their moves.  Additionally, I have a sub-specialty of moving seniors.  So, I work with a number of local senior communities, helping their client’s downsize and then move into their new senior apartments.

Recently, I received a call from one of my senior communities asking if I could pack up the possessions of a woman had been living in one of their independent apartments for several years. Her health was declining, so they have placed her in skilled nursing facilities.  The woman’s instructions were to pack everything in the independent apartment up, and deliver it to one of two homes she still keeps here in the East Bay.  While her senior apartment was cluttered, and there was plenty of “junk mail” and paper stacked up, we were not prepared for what was to come.

After carefully packing and inventorying her things, we loaded them in the moving truck and headed for the address given to us by her attorney.  When we arrived at her home, we discovered that we could barely open the front door of the house, and when we were able to push our way in to look inside, there was no way we could enter to put anything else into the house.  Packed to the rafters, I could not allow my movers to attempt to enter a house that had been closed up for years…mold, dust, critters and the possibility of piles of stuff collapsing on top of people…there just was no way.

After finally being able to push open the front door, this was what greeted us...

After finally being able to push open the front door, this was what greeted us…

After calling the attorney, who couldn’t understand over the phone how it could possibly be that bad, the best we could do was leave everything in the back yard of the property, and let him come over and take a look at the house himself.  Several days later I received a phone call…”how on earth do people live like that?”.  Yes, hoarders do live like that.  He then went to see his client to talk to her about clearing out the house.  “Absolutely not!”, was her response.  No one would be allowed to discard a thing.  Even in the last remaining months of her life, and living completely away from her homes for years, she would not allow a thing to be taken away.

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