What You Should Bring to Assisted Living (and 8 Things You Shouldn’t Take)

Certified Senior Advisor (CSA)®
Assistive Technology Professional
Updated:

There are things that you must not forget to bring for your loved one and some that you have to let go of when moving them to assisted living. Downsizing to only the important and useful items will be helpful to you and during the moving process. In this article, we will guide you on what you should bring to assisted living (and things you shouldn't take).

What You Should Bring to Assisted Living
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A move to assisted living is meant to make your elderly loved one’s life much easier while still facilitating a reasonable level of independence.

When preparing for the move, you will be faced with various important decisions – including choosing what to bring and what not to bring to the new accommodations. 

Assisted living facilities normally have limited space. This means that your elderly loved one will be unable to move with all their belongings – regardless of how much sentimental value they place on them. 

To help make your work easier and facilitate a seamless transition to assisted living, here is a comprehensive guide on what to bring and what you shouldn’t bring to assisted living.

What Is Assisted Living? 

In the simplest of terms, assisted living basically refers to a home-like facility that provides seniors, and other applicable individuals, with the medical and personal help they need while ensuring they are as independent as possible.

Some people confuse them with nursing homes, but they are actually quite different.

Various services, including senior housing, skilled nursing, and personal care services, are provided to those in need of assistance in these facilities. Some even have memory care units specially designed to work with dementia patients.

As you can see, these facilities provide a home-like environment that promotes independent living. As such, you will need to move with a few personal items to create a home-like environment.

However, due to safety and limited space, you will need to choose what to bring and what not to bring – this involves some level of downsizing.

What To Bring To Assisted Living

what you should bring to assisted living personal items
Items used daily by your elderly loved ones shouldn’t be forgotten.

Personal Items

This category of belongings consists of items that your elderly loved one uses daily. These items should preferably be packed last – you can even pack a bag of items they can use on their first night – as they wait for unpacking the rest of their stuff. 

Some examples of personal care items include toiletries and personal hygiene items, pajamas, toothpaste and toothbrushes, hand towels, washcloths, bath towels, and assistive devices such as walkers, canes, glasses, and hearing aids, among others.

Furniture Items 

Assisted living facilities allow residents to bring their own furniture. While some families may want to bring old furniture pieces that give the new place a home-like feel, some prefer to purchase new furniture.

Regardless of what you choose, be sure to consider the dimensions of the space in question when choosing furniture items to bring into the assisted living facility.

Great examples of furniture items to bring include a bed (what size bed?), a small sofa, a dresser, a side table and lamp, a small table or desk, and a recliner or chair. 

Clothing

One of the toughest downsizing jobs when it comes to moving your elderly loved one(s) into assisted living revolves around streamlining their wardrobe. 

Some of the important clothing items to bring include pajamas and robes, casual wear, formal wear, workout clothes, jackets and coats, shoes, slippers, and socks.

You should also remember to bring some storage containers and hangers for clothes that are out of season. 

Cleaning Supplies 

Most assisted living facilities provide their residents with professional laundry and housekeeping services. However, for small clean-up jobs – especially involving accidental spills – it is important to keep a few cleaning supplies in hand. 

You can bring a few useful cleaning supplies such as a broom, dustpan, stain removal stick, dish soap, multipurpose spray or surface wipes, kitchen towels, and paper towels. 

Décor Items 

You will also need to bring some personal items with which to decorate the new space and make it feel like home. 

Some great examples include a mirror, books, night lights for the hallways and bedroom, plants, a clock and alarm clock, organizational items, and framed pictures. 

Entertainment 

While most assisted living facilities use a variety of planned daily activities to keep residents happy and active, your loved one still needs to have a few entertainment options for their new home. This way, they can still enjoy watching their favorite TV shows or listening to music.

You should bring all sorts of entertainment options like a TV, laptop or tablet, radio, playing cards, phone, hobby supplies, puzzles, and some reading materials.

Pet Supplies 

It is also important to bring all the necessary pet supplies if your loved one is planning on moving to their new assisted living home with their beloved pet.

Food treats, favorite toys, a pet bed and blanket, a leash, a collar, a cat litter box/dog crate, pet medications, and a feeding bowl are some of the main pet supplies you can bring with you. 

what you should bring to assisted living  candles
Candles and other fire hazards must not be brought to assisted living facilities.

What Not To Bring To Assisted Living

An important part of moving parents into an assisted living community is knowing what NOT to bring.

Here’s a list of some of the stuff that you should not bring to assisted living: 

Oversized Furniture Items/Wobbly Furniture 

Some furniture items are poorly suited to assisted living facilities. For starters, you should avoid bringing any bulky or heavy pieces of furniture that take up a lot of space.

While you might have had enough space to accommodate such items in your previous home, bringing them to your new home may make it appear more crowded than necessary. 

Still, on furniture, you should avoid bringing broken or wobbly items and any chairs with wheels – all these may expose seniors to an elevated risk of falling. 

Multiples of Items 

To save on space, you are discouraged from bringing multiples of the same items. For instance, when it comes to mugs, bowls, or plates, you should only bring the number of items that you will be using regularly instead of a full set. 

Trip Hazards

Avoid bringing any items that present a trip hazard. Considering that seniors are prone to falls that can lead to serious injuries, you should avoid bringing area rugs or any unnecessary décor items that are meant to be placed over the floor, presenting a fall hazard. 

Niche Items

If you have any items that do not get used regularly, like kitchenware and even holiday decorations, it is recommended that you either put them in storage or sell them off – as there is no need to bring them to assisted living. 

Fancy, Expensive, And Seldom Worn Jewelry And Clothes

Closely related to the above point, you should avoid bringing any jewelry or clothing items that are rarely worn. You can ask one of your close family members to keep your fancy and expensive jewelry and clothing items for you.

This way, you can be sure that they are in safe hands, where you can retrieve them whenever necessary. 

Candles And Items That Generate Heat

While candles and heaters may help you create a more comfortable environment in your new home, you should not bring them to assisted living. Open flames are not allowed in senior living communities – so be sure to leave any candles behind.  Violating this rule could even lead to you evicting your assisted living community.

Furthermore, heaters – including electric blankets and space heaters – are considered to be fire hazards. If you want to create a warm and comfy environment, consider bringing a throw blanket and a comforter. 

Storage Items

Since you are looking to downsize, it is important that you accept the fact that you can’t bring everything with you. As such, you should avoid bringing any storage items to assisted living instead of looking for an alternative and secure storage option – like renting a storage space for such items. 

Medications

Assisted living communities normally have strict rules on medications for their residents. These facilities also have medical professionals who help seniors manage their prescribed or over-the-counter medications.

Before you bring any medications to assisted living, be sure to consult the facility’s management first. 

Alcoholic Beverages

Whether you enjoy a glass of wine with dinner or a six-pack of beer while watching football, make sure you understand the community’s policy on alcohol consumption on the premises. Some assisted living facilities will allow you to drink alcohol, but there are some that outright ban it. Others may allow it but only in certain circumstances or under controlled conditions.

RELATED: Assisted Living: Ultimate Guide to the Whole (Scary) Process

Tips To Keep Your Personal Items Secure In Assisted Living 

Use these tips to keep your personal belongings secure in assisted living: 

  1. Create a list of all the personal belongings, noting down any identifying details you bring to assisted living – the list should be regularly updated to make sure new items are included and any items you no longer have been removed. 
  2. Label all of your personal belongings using your initials or full name in a way that is hard to remove. 
  3. Find out if the assisted living community offers secure storage for valuables. And use it to store your most valuable belongings. 
  4. If you have any irreplaceable items, it is best to leave them with close family members – where there can be stored in a safe or safe deposit box at the bank. 
  5. Get insurance cover for your valuables. You can safeguard your belongings using a special policy designed for assisted living facilities or under your homeowner’s insurance policy.

Conclusion 

Moving to a senior living community is meant to make your life easier and more manageable without making you feel less independent. However, you will need to downsize due to the limited living space.

The process of choosing what to bring to assisted living and what to leave behind can be quite grueling. Fortunately, with the above guidelines in mind, you will have an easier time sorting your stuff and downsizing.

Certified Senior Advisor (CSA)®
Assistive Technology Professional

Scott Grant has spent more than 20 years serving seniors and the elderly in the home medical equipment industry. He has worked as a manufacturer's rep for the top medical equipment companies and a custom wheelchair specialist at a durable medical equipment (DME) provider in WV. He is father to 4 beautiful daughters and has three terrific grandkids. When not promoting better living for older adults, he enjoys outdoor activities including hiking and kayaking and early morning runs.

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