Chaos Tamers Professional Organizing

General and Senior FAQs

The following links give answers to frequently asked questions about working with a professional organization expert, types of disorganization, and our special work with the elderly.

General Organization FAQs

What is being “chronically disorganized?”

According to Judith Kolberg of the Institute for Challenging Disorganization, if you answer “YES” to these 3 questions, you are considered to be chronically disorganized.

·         Has getting organized been a challenge for you most of your adult life?

·         Does being disorganized negatively affect your quality of life in some way every day?

·         Have you been unable to sustain organization?”

What are the typical problems of people who are chronically disorganized?

There are many likely symptoms of a chronically disorganized person:

·         They may have tried various methods to become organized in the past and failed.

·         They may be criticized by family and friends for their lack of organization.

·         They may have a fear of filing. They fear they won’t be able to find papers they need after they are filed.

·         Rooms in their home may be unusable. For example, they cannot cook or eat in their kitchen because there is too much stuff. They cannot sleep in their bed because of the clutter on top of and surrounding it.

·         They may be compulsive shoppers. They buy more than they can really use and more than fits comfortably in their home.

·         The amount of stuff in their home may pose a health hazard. There may be so much clutter that needed repairs cannot be made to the home. If the plumber cannot make repairs in the bathroom, it may become unusable. There may be mold in the basement, but no one can access it to remove it.

·         The stuff in their home may be a safety hazard. There may be only narrow rabbit trails through the rooms.  The stuff may topple over and trap the owner. Or if the paramedics are needed, they may not be able to reach the home-owner because of the amount of clutter.

Why is it important to work with an organization expert?

·         A professional organizer is objective and not emotionally attached, which is what a chronically disorganized person has the hardest problem overcoming on their own.

·         A professional organizer can tailor organizing methods to the strengths of the client.

·         A professional organizer can keep the client motivated and on track.

Why hire an organizer who is a member of the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO) and the Institute for Challenging Disorganization (ICD)?

Both of these groups require their members to adhere to their own professional guidelines for professional conduct and their code of ethics. These codes of ethics cover client working relationships, ethical professional behavior, best business practices, confidentiality, conflicts of interest, and reasonable fees. They also encompass treating fellow member colleagues with respect and courtesy.

FAQs on Organization for Seniors / Elderly

What issues do seniors have with being chronically disorganized?

There are lots of special issues that seniors must deal with who suffer from chronic disorganization:

·         Seniors may have a lifetime’s accumulation of stuff.

·         Some seniors have physical limits on how much organizing they can do on their own. They may tire easily.  They may not be able to reach upper shelves in cabinets or closets. There is the fear of falling off a step stool or ladder. 

·         The senior may have grown up during the Great Depression. This was a time where saving and hoarding may have been essential to their survival. Based on their hard experience growing up during this era, they may feel a need to keep things ‘just in case’.

·         Seniors fear they will run out of money. This again causes them to keep things ‘just in case’.

·         They may not know where to donate items they no longer want.

Why are seniors more likely to be chronically disorganized?

Again, there are many special reasons why the elderly are more likely to suffer from chronic disorganization:

·         Some seniors have physical limits on how much organizing they can do on their own. They may tire easily due to age or medications. Or they may have failing eyesight, which hinders them from noticing messes, and makes them more likely to misplace things and forget things.

·         They may be ashamed of their situation, and less likely to ask for help when they need it.

·         They may not be able to reach upper shelves in cabinets or closets. There is the fear of falling off a step stool or ladder. 

·         Medications may affect their memory.

Why do I need to consider an organization expert who understands seniors?

·         A professional organizer that specializes in working with seniors knows that getting organized may be a slow process. It took a lifetime to accumulate all of the possessions, so you are not going to be able to go through them in a short time. Many of the senior’s items will have sentimental value. A professional organizer for seniors needs to have extra patience, to be willing to listen to the stories associated with the senior’s items.

·         The senior needs an organizer that understands they may have physical limitations  impacting the length of an organizing session.

·         The professional organizer has to build a level of trust with the senior client. They need to be able to assure the senior that their work with them is confidential and non-judgmental.

·         The professional organizer needs to show respect. Senior citizens need to know they are being treated with courtesy and consideration, and not like they are being overlooked by an organizer who may instead have too much of their attention given to their caregivers and not with them.

·         A professional organizer needs to be able to communicate effectively with a senior client’s family members and caretakers.

Why are families, guardians, and other support systems often not enough for helping seniors with being organized?

·         Seniors may not have family members nearby that are willing to help. 

·         Seniors may be ashamed of the condition of their home and as a result don’t want family or friends in the home.

·         Family and friends can sometimes be overly-critical of the chronically disorganized senior. A professional organizer is objective and non-judgmental, and has the patience to work with a senior that may be in short supply with family and friends who have dealt with the senior for a long time already.

Why consider a professional organizer when moving to your retirement home?

A senior’s moving to a new retirement home or other assisted living facility is a big transition in their life that can be filled with lots of stress in itself. We all know that any type of moving one’s possessions to a new home can great add to that stress, and this is especially true for seniors. A professional organizer with experience dealing with seniors and moving is the ideal person to relieve the stress of moving for everyone involved. 

·         A professional organizer can help the senior downsize prior to a move to a retirement facility.

·         An organizer will help the senior pare down your possessions to the amount that will fit in your new home.

·         An organizer can help you de-clutter your present home so it will sell faster.

Why consider a professional organizer when Aging In Place?

Some seniors of course will choose to remain in their homes and original communities,  A professional organizer can help seniors downsize if they are planning to Age In Place (remain in their own home.) An organizer can help them de-clutter their home, so they can move safely around their own home even if they are using a walker.


Have a question about our professional organizing services? Please contact us by email at Cathy@ChaosTamers.com or call 847-767-6139, and we’ll be glad to help you.