This blog is written by Lee Gale Gruen to help retirees, those soon to retire, baby boomers, and seniors reinvent themselves in this new stage of their lives called retirement. Her blog, public lecture, and new self-help book on senior reinvention are titled: Reinventing Yourself in Your Retirement Years: Find Joy Excitement, and Purpose After You Retire. Her memoir is: Adventures with Dad: A Father and Daughter’s Journey Through a Senior Acting Class. Synopses of her books follow her blog below. Both books are available at Amazon.com by clicking here and here. Her website is: LeeGaleGruen.com
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We all save things under the guise of “you never know when you may need it.” This “stuff” can range from old furniture and clothes to string and paper bags. In this age of too much waste and a trend toward recycling, such behavior is laudable. However, what happens when saving becomes chronic? There is a term for that: hoarding.
There are several possible reasons for why one becomes a hoarder. Explanations can include an obsessive-compulsive disorder, an adaptation to having experienced deprivation in earlier years, or having been raised in a similar environment.
Some hoarders live among excessive clutter to the point of not being able to sit on chairs and couches inside their homes, such locations having been usurped by their treasures. They may have to walk through narrow paths etched out of their possessions just to travel from room to room.
Hoarding behavior spills over into all domains of its practitioners: garages, cars, workplaces, and the like. Many of these locations can barely be breached due to the barricade constructed from their cache. There are the stacks of newspapers and magazines waiting to be read or re-read. There is the latest Amazon gadget not yet assembled. There might be that very serviceable item begging to be repaired.
Hoarders aren’t able to clean the house of accumulated dirt and dust because they can’t even get to it. Assorted vermin such as mice, rats, and insects may have taken up residence among the tunnels and caves created by the stash. These creatures are very content with their oh, so comfortable living arrangements. Their offspring thrive on the conditions, and great and great-great grandchildren proliferate. These multigenerational families live side by side as the hoarder continually increases their housing stock.
Hoarders are often well organized; they know where everything is. They may have to dig through several inches or feet of their piles to find what they are seeking, but that is just a minor inconvenience to them. The hoarder is usually quite content with this way of living. It is others who have a problem with it. So, the extreme hoarder may stop inviting people to visit. They can’t face another comment like, “Gee, everything is all over the place. Are you moving?” or “It looks like a bomb fell in here.”
Clutterers and hoarders are not quite the same. They probably fall on a continuum with the former being the lite version of the latter. Nevertheless, regardless of the degree of messiness of such a lifestyle, it may prove unpalatable to those on the neatness end of the scale.
If you are a hoarder and are happy with your home as you’ve arranged it, then there is no problem. However, what if you are someone who shares a dwelling with a hoarder such as a spouse, child, parent, or roommate? If you’re okay with it, again there’s no problem. However, what do you do if you hate living that way but have decided for whatever reason (love, lack of funds, still a minor…) to continue residing with the hoarder?
Here are several possible approaches to consider:
- You can change your own outlook and make peace with living that way.
- You might bargain with the hoarder to limit their collections to just the garage or specific rooms in the house.
- You may opt to limit yourself to specific rooms and turn over the rest of the residence to the hoarder and his/her proclivities.
- You can hire a professional organizer who will arrive with containers, boxes, files, and the like.
- You might opt to live in different abodes if you can afford it while still maintaining your relationship.
- As extreme hoarding may be a mental health disorder or connected to depression, you might need to seek outside intervention from a counselor or therapist to help negotiate a deal with your hoarder.
- You may need to terminate the relationship to ever achieve the neat, orderly life you crave.
Many of these suggestions involve disrupting the hoarder’s modus operandi to one degree or another. Expect resistance and relapses from your resident pack rat. Remember, they don’t have a problem; it’s you with the problem.
SYNOPSES OF BOOKS BY: LEE GALE GRUEN
Reinventing Yourself in Your Retirement Years: Find Joy, Excitement, and Purpose After You Retire (self-help): Not a one-size-fits-all approach, this self-help book for retirees, those soon to retire, baby boomers, and seniors offers an individualized, detailed guide to assist readers in discovering activities and pursuits in this new stage of their lives called retirement, based on their own likes and comfort level. I learned the secret the hard way transitioning from retired probation officer to actress, author, public speaker, and blogger. Audience members at my lectures on senior reinvention requested a book on the subject. This is the result, and it contains the content of those talks and six years of posts from this blog. CLICK here TO PURCHASE FROM AMAZON.COM.
Adventures with Dad: A Father and Daughter’s Journey Through a Senior Acting Class (memoir): After retiring at age 60 from my 37-year career as a probation officer, I mistakenly enrolled in an acting class for seniors. A few weeks later, my mother died, and I invited my grieving, 85-year-old father to come to class with me. This is the true story of our magical journey attending that class together for three years, bonding more than ever. I wrote the comedy scenes we performed onstage twice a year in the acting class showcases, and all six scenes are included in the book. I eventually transitioned into the world of professional acting. As my fledgling, second career started going uphill, my dad’s health started going downhill. I would recount to him each of my new experiences while I sat beside his bed at the nursing home where he resided in his final years. CLICK here TO PURCHASE FROM AMAZON.COM.
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