Home for the Holidays

December 13, 2016

getting-organizedThe holiday season is in full swing. For many, that means visiting with family and friends, enjoying home-cooked meals, or reveling in much-needed peace and quiet. However, if you’re traveling back home for the holidays (and visiting older relatives), the season might also bring-up some anxieties about checking in and ensuring they are aging safely.

Fortunately, a visit home doesn’t need to be a source of stress. Instead, think of it as a chance to organize important documents and setup your loved one’s space to make it easier to locate personal items. And remember: your presence shouldn’t be one where your parents or older relatives feel like everything is being changed, but instead should emphasize how these small steps can help them be prepared, and continue to live independently.

Here are simple tips to help get you started this holiday season for ensuring your loved one is organized for the New Year.


It can be very challenging to manage multiple medications that come with specific instructions. Here are some tips to ensure proper medication usage and storage:

  1. Have the physician print out a list of medications with clear, bolded instructions. By doing this, it minimizes or prevents any confusion around what time to consume the medication, along with any other restrictions. Once the list has been created, keep it in a visible place that is easily accessible (like on the refrigerator) or store inside of a folder.
  2. For easy access, medications should be stored in a clear container or box that is labeled “Medications,” unless the medication needs to be refrigerated or has other special storage instructions. By storing medications in a labeled container or box, you can prevent medications from being lost and cut down on the amount of time spent searching for medication bottles. As a rule of thumb, it’s always best to have a designated storage place for every item in the home, even the smallest items.


Many older adults have an abundance of paperwork — ranging from medical to personal documents. Paper clutter can become very overwhelming if it’s not managed quickly and efficiently. That’s why it is important to file these documents properly, so that they’re easy to retrieve when needed. I recommend using filing systems that will effectively organize documents and make it easy to retrieve when necessary.

  • File sorters that hang on the wall make it easy for papers to be filed and retrieved because they’re stored at eye-level. Each file sorter should be labeled, which makes it easy to identify which documents are bills, medical-related or “follow-up” paperwork.
  • Desktop sorters can be stored on a desk or table. Like the file sorters, the sections of the desktop sorters can be labeled to help you identify documents much easier.

Ultimately, the goal is to eliminate clutter, but also make it easier for you to find and sift through documents when you need them.


I recommend maximizing vertical storage space within a home by utilizing hooks and shelving units. As many older adults are prone to falls, making sure walkways are clear can reduce or even prevent unwanted accidents. Installing shelves is one great way to move décor pieces off of the ground and place them up on display instead.

Additionally, it’s also helpful to place hooks in close proximity to the front door. These hooks can help create a habit to place keys there after entering the home, and serve as a reminder to grab the keys before leaving the home. The hook should be large enough to hold keys to the home, car, and mailbox. There are great removable hooks that do not damage the wall, as well as decorative hooks on the market.

While these tips may be small, they can have a large impact in your loved one’s home by providing a sense of order and system of organization (not to mention, ensure they can maintain their independence!) Additionally, as a family member, helping to implement these tips will give you peace of mind that your older relative is safe in their home.

Good luck and happy organizing!

By Jakia Muhammad

Jakia Muhammad is Iona’s Home Delivered Meals Coordinator. She also has a passion for and love of all things organization and systems. 

3 thoughts on “Home for the Holidays”

  1. The most important thing for medications is a pill box. This tells the person what he or she needs to take at a given time of day, every day, and provides the pills right there in the designated place. This means either you or someone you enlist or hire (preferably a nurse) needs to come into the loved one’s home and refill the pill box once a week.

  2. Thanks for the tip “File sorters that hang on the wall “, where can I get them?

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