What Should Be on Your Moving Packing List for Assisted Living?

packing_alWhen a senior is preparing to move into assisted living, no question looms larger than what to pack and bring to the new living space.

Certainly any moving list will include basic necessities such as clothes, toiletries, pillows, bedding and towels. In addition, seniors can bring items that will allow them to personalize their living space and make it seem more like home—a favorite chair, for instance, or perhaps a beloved quilt.

Most communities give residents a good deal of discretion about what items they can bring into their new assisted living situation. “They can bring anything they would bring into an apartment or home—pictures, special pieces of furniture, towels, sheets, furniture, desk, chairs—whatever they would like,” says Sandra Santana, head of admissions at Atria Assisted Living in Huntington Station, N.Y. “We also allow residents to bring in their pets as long as they are in a private apartment.”

Assisted Living Packing and Moving Tips

Before moving to assisted living, seniors should find out what furnishings will be provided. Santana reports that many assisted living communities will provide a five-piece bedroom set consisting of a full or twin-size bed with mattress and box springs, comforter set and pillows, nightstand, dresser, mirror, two lamps and a chair. Depending upon the space, residents can supplement these furnishings with extra furnishings of their own such as a love seat, chair or tables.

“If they prefer to use their own bedroom furniture, this can be accommodated by the staff of the ALF by removing the bedroom set that is currently in the room,” Santana says.

For residents moving into an assisted living space that does not have a kitchenette, Santana suggests that they bring in their own refrigerator, a set of table and chairs as well as a microwave cart so that they can have a little kitchen area for their own convenience.

Seniors needn’t be burdened with bringing too many items for recreation and entertainment, since assisted living communities have such amenities as exercise rooms, swimming pools, pool tables, communal lounges and even computer rooms. In fact, much of senior living is focused on giving seniors the opportunity to do what they like to do.

“There’s a tremendous amount of freedom in assisted living,” says Tony Rovere, co-chair of the Long Island chapter of the Aging in Place Council and webmaster of Stuff Seniors Need. “It’s a completely different environment than a nursing home. It’s a social model versus a medical model.”

Packing and Moving Checklist for Seniors

While each individual will have a personalized packing list, here is a packing list that could serve as a general guideline:

  • Clothing (only bring what you know you will wear; donate or sell the rest)
  • Shoes, socks, slippers
  • Toiletries (teeth and dental care items, personal hygiene items, etc.)
  • Any prescription medicines as well as commonly used over-the-counter medications
  • Assistive devices as needed (eyeglasses, hearing aids, canes, walkers, etc.)
  • Sheets, pillows, bedding
  • Clothes hangers; shelving or storage units
  • Bath towels, washcloths and dish towels
  • Furniture as needed (chairs, table, desk, nightstand, etc.)
  • Appliances (mini-fridge, microwave, coffeemaker, etc.)
  • Kitchenware (dishes, glasses, cutlery, pots, pans, etc.)
  • Household cleaners (glass cleaner, bathroom cleaners, etc.)
  • Telephone and/or cell phone with charger
  • TV, radio, stereo
  • Personal computer, laptop or electronic tablet
  • Pictures, photographs, wall hangings, clock
  • Decorative pillows or throws
  • Tabletop accessories such as lamps, vases, figurines, alarm clock, etc.
  • Potted plants (live or artificial)
  • Playing cards, board games, hobby items
  • Books and other reading material
  • Wastebaskets for kitchen and/or bathroom
  • Important papers (wills, medical and financial records, etc.)

Santana recommends possibly bringing folding chairs, which can be stored in a closet and brought out to accommodate guests. She also observes that residents may find they need a cane or walker in assisted living, even if they never used one before, since they may need some support in navigating the halls.

While many assisted living communities will schedule movies for the residents’ entertainment, Rovere suggests that seniors may wish to bring a DVD player or streaming device so that they can watch movies on Netflix. “If they don’t like the movie that is playing that day, they can watch what they want,” he says.

Among items that are not permitted in assisted living are those that may cause a safety hazard for residents. For instance, Santana reports that weapons such as handguns are not allowed. It is also important not to bring anything that could be considered a fire hazard such as toaster ovens, irons, grills or curling irons.

“There are usually laundry services and beauticians on-site, so those types of things are not needed,” Rovere says.

SOUND OFF: What was (or will be) your biggest challenge in moving yourself or a loved one to assisted living?

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9 comments on “What Should Be on Your Moving Packing List for Assisted Living?
  1. Thank you for your article. I found this interesting.

    -Marla B. Levie, President Focus on Aging


  2. Dorothy Burtton says:

    /////what about Christmas things. I have a pull up tree that’s already decorated and it goes in a bag when I am done. Also other Holiday things.

  3. Diane Franklin says:

    That is definitely an excellent point, Dorothy. Decorating with a tree, wreath, etc., will make the living space look festive, and those items can be stored in a closet, under the bed or elsewhere.

  4. Eley says:

    My best bet is positive – posters, pics, sayings. Going to assisted living doesn’t mean the end of one’s journey. They must stay motivated and open-minded! Greetings, Man With Van Stratford Ltd.

  5. Sheila Lucas says:

    Great packing list. I am so glad that I have found it. Best regards!

  6. Jim Conor says:

    I think it is really great when a retirement community allows their residences to bring some of their old furniture because it can give them a feeling of comfort when moving into a new area. When we were helping move my mother into one, they allowed her to bring the rocking chair she usually sits in so she could be more comfortable while knitting. Providing that level of comfort can really help make a move go much to a retirement home much smoother.

  7. I always suggest that residents personalize their own apartments inside our community so that they feel comfortable. In answer to the question about the Christmas trees, residents are permitted a small tree, but not lights as they pose a fire hazard. We decorate fully for the holidays and the residents take an active part in it. If you would like to know more about our community, you can visit our website at http://www.atriahuntington.com.

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