Assisted Living

Moving is difficult under any circumstances. Add in moving a loved one to somewhere where life may seem unfamiliar, like an assisted living facility, and it becomes even more of an upheaval. Assisted living housing usually consists of a studio or a one-bedroom unit, which is a smaller home than most of us are used to. So it’s time to downsize, and start planning what essentials your loved one will need to pack for assisted living.

Communicate with the assisted living facility to make sure you’re clear on what they provide, and what residents are expected to bring with them. Is the unit furnished, or will your loved one need to provide a bed, sofa, and chairs? Getting exact measurements of the space your loved one is moving to will help you plan any furniture they’ll need to bring. How about small appliances like a microwave and coffee pot? Here’s a starting list to help you plan what basics you should pack—and a few things to avoid.

Clothing

Pack comfortable clothes, mostly casual styles like sweats, pants, jeans, and sweaters. Check the closet space available at the facility, though, and only pack your loved one’s favorites. You’ll need a few formal outfits for special occasions. Comfortable shoes, socks, and slippers are a necessity, as are pajamas and a robe. Don’t forget a jacket and a warm coat.

Medication and Toiletries

Take along all prescription medications that your loved one takes. Also bring a list of all medication that they need. Bring basic toiletries – soap and shampoo, toothbrush and toothpaste, lotion, make up, and a razor. Check with the assisted living facility about over-the-counter medications, toiletries, and other necessities. Different facilities provide different services and amenities. You may not have to provide everything; the facility may provide some necessities.

Touches of Home

Keepsakes and photos provide an important touchstone to home. When you pack for assisted living, pack framed photos and other artwork to hang on the walls in the facility. Bring knickknacks and other keepsakes that remind you and your loved one of fun times – family vacations and holidays. Think about keeping some spaces familiar, too. If your loved one’s bedside table has always held the same clock, lamp, and framed photo, set that up the same way to provide a sense of familiarity.

Don’t go overboard, though. If they have a large collection of something, just bring one or two treasured instead of the whole set. As you downsize, consider dispersing the collection to other relatives and friends or put it in storage if your loved one can’t bear to see them go.

Another option? Take photos! It’s hard to let go of everything, but realistically, a lot will need to stay behind when your loved one starts to pack for assisted living. Take pictures of memorabilia (furniture, trinkets, decorations, paintings) and create a photo album for them to hang onto.

Cleaning Supplies

The assisted living facility cleaning staff will take care of most housekeeping needs, but it’s convenient to have basic cleaning supplies like disinfectant surface wipes, paper towels, and a broom to clean up any small messes.

Furniture and Appliances

Some facilities come furnished, but some don’t (and some are somewhere in between). Find out what furniture and appliances you are expected to provide, and what you have space for. At the very least, bring sheets, pillows, comforter, and throw pillows from home to create a comfy, familiar space. If your loved one must furnish the space, start with a bed, sofa, and small kitchen table and chairs (seating for two or four, not a large dining table). If they find themselves needing more furniture, you can arrange that later.

A microwave and a small fridge – like a college dorm room fridge – are nice to have, too. Find out if your loved one needs to provide kitchenware like pots and pans, dishes, glasses, and mugs (but only pack a few place settings – there’s probably not storage space for more than that). You may need to bring a TV and a radio. Don’t forget the cell phone and charger.

What Not to Pack

Space is limited, so don’t bring large furniture. Don’t pack furniture with sharp corners, anything unstable like wobbly chairs. Don’t plan to decorate with rugs, either, because these can be a trip hazard. Entrust any expensive jewelry, collectables, or other valuables to a family member to hold on to.