Checklist for Moving Into Assisted Living: What to Bring and What Not to Take

Are you getting ready to move a parent or loved one into an assisted living facility? This type of transition can be emotional for both the person moving into assisted living and the caretaker. You may feel guilty for relinquishing some of your responsibilities to the center’s staff. 

However, a U.S. News and World Report article states that assisted living was created out of a need to honor the values of independence, choice, and dignity. That being said, each assisted living center will vary in its community activities, care services, policies, and conveniences.

A source of anxiety for many seniors and caregivers is what to pack when moving into assisted living. Many aging adults need to go through the downsizing process and decide what not to take when they move into their new home. 

Our checklist for moving into assisted living will provide you and your loved one with some initial guidelines. If you haven’t already, it’s important to look at the size of the room. At the very least, examine a floor plan with dimensions. 

This will help you assess how much space is available and how your loved one’s belongings can fit into the layout. 

A picture of an elderly woman standing, holding a cane in an adult foster care room. A green chair and a wood dresser.

Packing Tips

According to American Senior Communities, there are four different categories of personal items to consider before the move. These categories include furnishings, clothing, necessities, and toiletries. The following lists break down some of the personal items in each of the categories to consider packing.

Clothing

Think about the comfort needs of your loved one and the general environment where he or she will be staying. Is the weather seasonal, or does the temperature tend to stay the same year long? How about the comfort level of the room and the activities your loved one will be participating in?

Although your loved one should take the lead on what types of clothing he or she wants to bring, it’s important to include various styles. Consider bringing sweaters, sweats, and casual clothes like jeans. You’ll also want to throw in plenty of socks and comfortable shoes. 

Will your loved one be going to formal activities? Be sure to include dresses, slacks, suits, and ties, or whatever other outfits he or she enjoys dressing up in. Don’t forget pajamas, robes, and jackets for cooler weather. 

Furnishings

Although the room size may limit what type of furniture you can bring, your loved one will want to make the new space feel like home. Go through your loved one’s belongings to see which ones are most important or have high sentimental value. Consider things like lamps, housewares, chairs, artwork, and keepsakes. 

Your parent or loved one may also want to bring photo albums and gift items that hold a special meaning. Things like personal bedspreads and pillows can make the room resemble their current or former home. Also, think about whether end tables and smaller furniture pieces like love chairs will fit. 

Necessities

This category includes things like entertainment items and small appliances. Ask what’s needed to help your loved one pass the time when they’re alone in their space. Will a TV or radio do?

Or is reading and watching a favorite movie collection what they like? Besides staying entertained, there are also cleaning supplies and practical items such as clothes hangers to consider. Look at how much closet space your loved one will have, in addition to what type of housekeeping services the facility includes.

There is also the question of appliances. Some centers include a small fridge and microwave for quick meals. Others do not and leave it up to the residents to bring their own. 

If your loved one needs or desires things like a coffee maker, fridge, and alarm clock in their room, you should include these items on your list. There is always the option of hiring a moving company if it will be too strenuous to move these items in by yourself. 

You should also consider whether your loved one needs to take aids like walkers and glasses. Do they wear a hearing aid or have a cane? Anything that improves their quality of life and mobility should not be left behind. 

Toiletries

Before you make a list of what medications and toiletries to bring, check with the assisted living center to see what services they provide. For instance, do they take care of refilling prescriptions for residents? Do they provide the basics like toothpaste and toilet paper?

If not, you’ll want to add these essentials to your packing list. Include everything your loved one needs at home—things like shampoo and conditioner, makeup, lotion, shaving supplies, and soap. Vitamins and over-the-counter remedies like aspirin or Vitamin C can be helpful too. 

Depending upon the room’s storage space and what your loved one currently has in stock, you may need to shop for these items before moving day. If storage space is tight, consider smaller or travel sizes. You might want to check with the facility to see if they provide transportation for shopping or other outings before purchasing too many toiletries at once.

What Not to Bring to an Adult Foster Care

Coordinating the logistics of the move is easier if you know what items are being left behind. Your loved one can decide whether to put them in storage, sell, donate, or give them away to family members. You can then arrange pickups or have a company haul the items to a storage facility or your home. 

Some of the things you’ll want to avoid taking to an assisted living facility include large furnishings and wall art, a lot of kitchen supplies and cookware, duplicate items, and things that can create trip hazards. This is where it will be beneficial to talk to the staff at the center.

Pets

Ask if there is a list of items that your loved one should not bring or will not be allowed on the premises. If your parent or family member has a pet, are they allowed to bring them? Are there restrictions on the types of animals allowed and how many can stay in the room?

There are assisted living facilities that let residents bring small dogs, especially if the rooms are structured more like apartments. However, you’ll need to determine whether your family member can reasonably care for the animal. If not, or the facility will be too uncomfortable for the animal, it may be best to rehome the pet. 

Large Items

While large furniture and wall art are fairly self-explanatory, you’ll probably want to take measurements of any furnishings your loved one wants to bring. If it’s obvious that something won’t fit or there will be too many pieces of furniture, rule out the less important and larger items. Ask your loved ones which pieces mean more and which ones will make them feel more at home or comfortable.

Besides furnishings like wall art and tables, think about larger items such as grandfather clocks, vases, and artistic statues. If your loved one has any of these things, it is probably best to either place them in storage or with a family member if they are heirlooms. 

Duplicates

Does your elderly parent have a closet full of jeans and shoes? Sorting through these things can prevent their room at the assisted living facility from becoming too cluttered. It’s easy to accumulate stuff that people end up not using over the years.

Take time to identify how many pairs of the same types of clothing items your loved one will reasonably need. Go through areas of their current home, including the garage, basement, and attic, to see what items can stay behind. Things like lawnmowers, snowblowers, tools, extra bedding, and holiday decorations can go into storage or be sold. 

Trip Hazards and Unsafe Items

As people age, they become more vulnerable to slips, falls, and accidents. Bringing items like large rugs and appliances that could start fires if left on by mistake can lead to hazardous scenarios. If you’re unsure of what might be unsafe or set your loved one up for an unpleasant situation, ask the facility’s staff for advice. 

They will let you know what’s best to leave behind based on their expertise with other residents. Remember that it is part of their jobs to help your loved one make a smooth transition to the facility. 

Final Thoughts

Getting ready to move a family member into an assisted living facility can be nerve-wracking. It’s a big change for both you and your loved one. Before moving day, you’ll want to create a list of items to bring, a list of what’s being left behind, and set up things like mail forwarding. 

By staying organized and knowing what’s appropriate to take and what your loved one needs in their new home, you both can make a smoother transition. Talking to the admissions staff at your loved one’s facility is where you’ll want to start. They can help you develop a well-rounded checklist for moving into assisted living. 

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