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What to bring to assisted living

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What to bring to assisted livingWhen it comes time for your loved one to move into an assisted living community it is important that they get the proper support to ease their transition. There are many ways to offer support, such as being understanding when they feel uncertain or helping them pack for their move. Moving is always a complicated and often stressful endeavor regardless of a person’s age. Seniors who are moving into an assisted living community will face even more challenges than usual when it comes time to relocate. Most residential assisted living homes have a limited amount of space, which can make it hard to choose what to pack from a lifetime of treasured possessions.

While many seniors may feel like they are giving up what makes them unique, living in an assisted living facility actually fosters more independence. Managing a home and all of the possessions that come with it can become much more difficult as a person ages. In an assisted living community, it is much easier to keep things that are important close at hand while avoiding the hassle of daily or weekly home maintenance.

Downsizing for An Assisted Living Community

Living in a senior assisted living facility offers many of the comforts of home without the need for constant upkeep. Assisted living communities offer their residents a smaller space to maintain and personalize, which makes living out their golden years much easier. Consequentially, when a senior is preparing to relocate to such a facility, the need for downsizing becomes apparent.

Many families will help their loved ones face the challenge of downsizing by distributing family heirlooms and much-loved belongings between themselves. Although many families are able to help with this process, it is still important to help your loved one decide which items they find most important among their lifelong collections of belongings.

After you have found the perfect assisted living facility near you, one way to help your loved one prepare to downsize it to take them to visit their new home. They will be able to get a visual idea of the space they will have to personalize and make their own. This is a great way to help choose which items should be brought along and which should be left behind after they move.

Adaptive Devices in Assisted Living

One of the main motivations behind moving into an assisted living facility is the need for help with basic daily tasks. There will always be caregivers on hand to help residents with their daily needs, but packing adaptive devices is still a good idea.

Devices that help seniors with mobility such as a “grabber” tool are perfect for seniors who may have trouble reaching or bending. Adaptive devices such as safety rails for the bathroom or near the bed are also great for older people who need a little bit of help but prefer not to call someone to their aid all the time.

What to Bring – An Assisted Living Packing Checklist

Moving is a multi-step process that should be undertaken with careful consideration. When a senior’s enrollment into an assisted living community has been finalized, moving preparations should begin. Moving is more of an emotional process for older people than it is for those who are less anchored in life. As a result, it may be best to give your loved one ample time to come to terms with the impending change and start sorting their most desired possessions to take with them.

Ask the senior living enrollment manager about the floor plan or the specific space your loved one will be allotted. This is a great way to get an idea of how much or how little they should pack for their new senior home. Once you have the space allotment information, the next thing to do is to create a checklist of things to take, things to store, and things to give away. Although every facility will have different space restrictions, we have put together a general packing list for your loved one's assisted living relocation.

Home Furnishings

One advantageous part of moving to an assisted living facility is that you can make the living space your own. Some home furnishings to consider taking along when relocating are:

  • Bedding sets, heirloom quilts, specialty pillows, and comforters.
  • Artwork and framed photos.
  • Standing lamps or table lamps.
  • Chairs, small sofas, recliners, nightstands & end tables.
  • Showpieces, knick-knacks, and other keepsakes.
  • Kitchenware such as silverware, plates, cooking utensils, pots, and pans.

Depending on the specific type of assisted living community and layout your loved one is moving into, some items may or may not be required. Always keep in mind that space will be much smaller than they are accustomed to, so choosing a limited number of items is important.


Depending on the facility, your loved one may need to pack some specific must-have items for their comfort such as:

  • Alarm clocks
  • Hangers for clothing
  • Small appliances such as a microwave, coffee maker or mini-refrigerator.
  • Television
  • Radio
  • A media corner such as for books, magazines, and mail.

Other personal items that should always remain with your loved one include:

  • Eyeglasses
  • Hearing aids
  • Walkers
  • Cane(s)
  • Personal toiletries
  • Medication & Prescriptions
  • Religious paraphernalia


Chances are your loved one has stockpiled an impressive wardrobe over their lifetime; however, it won’t be possible to take everything when they relocate to assisted living. It is a good idea to pack a mid-range selection of clothing for all seasons and place the rest in storage for later use. Make sure to select their favorite outfits along with:

  • Undergarments
  • Sleeping wear
  • Formal wear
  • Inside shoes/slippers
  • Comfortable walking shoes & formal footwear
  • Lounge clothing
  • Winter jackets and indoor jackets for cooler weather.
  • Climate specific clothing.

Many assisted living homes will offer residents a wide variety of services and amenities including personal shopping or assisted shopping trips, so your loved one may not need to bring as much with them as they think.

Facility Rules & Moving Tips

Many assisted living centers will provide most of the basics for each of their residents. Make sure to talk with the intake manager or enrollment specialist to get a list of things that are already provided so that you don’t pack duplicates when you relocate.

Some assisted living homes also have specific rules regarding items that are allowed and items that are specifically banned. Many locations allow for personal kitchen items like coffee makers or microwaves while others don’t allow residents to keep such items in their rooms. Most communities also disallow costly jewelry or artwork due to the risks of theft or damage. All clothing should be labeled, even undergarments. This is mainly because housekeeping will wash clothing in bulk and labels ensure that your loved one's clothes will be returned properly after each wash.

Get Some Inside Information

You can learn a lot about a facility by talking with residents who already live there. Ask current residents about what they chose to bring with them and what items they found most useful. Also, find out which items they found repetitive or unneeded after they relocated. Being that they have already completed their relocation, they may have helpful tips that can help your loved one make a more compact moving checklist.

What Not to Bring to Your Senior Assisted Living Community

Senior living communities and assisted living homes are a great way for older people to live independently while still getting the support they need. There are caregivers, nurses, housekeepers, and even cooks in many homes to help take the stress out of aging.

Assisted living homes offer a lower personal workload for seniors, but they also tend to have much less space than a private home or apartment. In addition, the facilities are also communal, which means that there are more people moving in and out of areas that you will find in a private residence. Keeping these things in mind, there are some items that are best left behind when your loved one moves into an assisted living home.

  • Extremely valuable items
  • Collectible items
  • Large rugs (area rugs ok)
  • Kitchen Appliances
  • Overly large furniture sets
  • Space heaters
  • Air conditioning units

Space is limited in an assisted living home and many of these items won’t be needed. Although there is security in assisted living facilities, they are communal communities that often have a large number of daily visitors. As a result, it is best to leave items that are extremely valuable or irreplaceable with a family member for safekeeping.

Making the Transition

Now that the decision to move to assisted living is final, it is natural to wonder just how much help will be needed and if it will be provided. Finding new friends and entertaining old friends who come to visit is also a common concern.

Assisted living communities come with a built-in social circle, which makes finding new friends easy. The staff who work in retirement homes and senior assisted living facilities are always available to offer residents the help they need with daily tasks and special needs. Visits from outside friends and family members are not only beneficial but also encouraged. Visiting arrangements can be made in the common areas as well as in a resident's personal space according to their preference.

Make Your Space Your Own

Transforming your new space to match your personality will make the assisted living facility feel more like a home as opposed to simply and institution. Consider packing smaller items that fit your loved one's personal style such as mementos from their travels, handmade crafts from their grandchildren or even their own creations. Smaller pieces of furniture and treasured photos can also help create a home-like feel and ease the transition from one place to the other.

Avoid bringing too many items or things that are too large. This can affect mobility and cause falling hazards which otherwise would be avoided. Consider labeling storage areas in the new space to help your loved one find things quickly while they are in transition. Overall, the style of their room or apartment should match how they always lived, but on a smaller scale.

Bring Your Beloved Pet

Some assisted living communities allow their residents to keep small pets. This is very beneficial, as the bonds between a senior and their pet can be very strong. If the assisted living facility you chose does allow for small pets, make sure that you also pack everything you will need for their care. This can include:

  • Pet bedding
  • Food for your pet
  • Pet medications
  • Leashes and other pet paraphernalia

Make sure that any pet you plan to bring is fully housebroken, tame, and up to date on their vaccinations. For residents who have issues with mobility, it may be a good idea to arrange for a pet walking service in advance of the relocation.

Pets offer a broad range of benefits for both the pet owner and other residents. Animals can help ease loneliness, keep seniors engaged, and even provide a good source of cardiovascular exercise. On top of all that, pets can also help give residents a sense of purpose during the emotionally draining relocation stage. So if your loved one has a pet, and if the facility allows it, they should definitely bring the pet with them.

Does Your Loved One Drive?

Many seniors still enjoy hitting the open road. Moving to an assisted living community typically won't curb that desire. If your loved one is still able to drive and owns their own vehicle, it makes sense that they will want to bring the car with them to their new home. Make sure that the facility has ample parking and ask about snow and ice removal during the winter months.

Many assisted living facilities offer transportation at no or low cost for their residents, so maintaining a vehicle is optional. If your loved one does plan to keep their car, make sure that you pack the original and a copy of their driver's license, registration, and car insurance.

Here at Senior Guidance, we hope to give you and your family the tools needed to make the golden years as smooth as possible. We have a broad range of topics for seniors, caregivers, and family members to help learn more about the facilities available. We also are happy to help you to choose the best options for your specific situation.



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