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Tips to help with a move into assisted living or senior housing

So it’s time.  You have talked about this and you are all in agreement you have to move yourself or your senior family member into a smaller possibly senior housing.  I know you are both looking forward to the day and a bit nervous.  Not to fear I want to share some of the best tips to make your move in day the best it can be.

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Check with the facility for its recommended packing list and exact space measurements. Find out what items are already provided in every resident’s space, so you don’t bring duplicates. Be sure to ask whether there are rules against anything — it’s not uncommon for communities to prohibit coffeemakers or even expensive jewelry collections. Also note that most communities recommend labeling every item (including clothes) with the owner’s name.uros-jovicic-322314


But how are you or your mom going to make it in 400 square feet? Remember  that the living residence itself, and the size of the room, suite or apartment is not the most important thing in any senior living residence, including assisted living, memory care or skilled nursing. If the “stuff” will fit and the adult child and their mom or dad is happy with the space available, then the actual size doesn’t matter! It’s how the space is arranged and what quality of care is delivered that really matters.

selective focus photography of left hand on top of right hand on white pants
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However, that being said this is a few things to keep in mind.


  • Bed (rent a comfortable hospital bed, or bring a bed with a familiar mattress)
  • Nightstand (ideally with drawers and shelves)
  • Seating (small sofa, chairs with arms, rocker; avoid chairs on casters)
  • Small table(s) with storage, such as shelves or drawers
  • Small kitchen table or drop-leaf table (a standard dining table is usually too big)
  • Dresser (second dresser for storage may fit in closet for extra storage; drawers are often easier than hanging everything


  • Also, think comfort for class clothes and shoes.   Perfect examples are solid tanks, comfortable flats, and a comfy pair of pants. Mix and match will be your friend. Remember that scarves can really change an outfit.
  • You will not need lots of dressy outfits. Think a basic little black dress with a jacket and dressy slacks outfit and shoes for more formal affairs.
  • Work-out clothes, pajamas, a bathing suit, bathrobe and shower shoes & sneakers
  • If you are going to an area where it gets chilly you will need a light jacket. Heavy coat, mittens, hat, and scarf *(if you’re going to be in a colder climate) Maybe rain boots and an umbrella. Don’t forget a comfy pair of slippers.
  • Remember your entire space will be small. So don’t bring lots of shoes. No more than 6. But you can plan on one each: flats, dressy low heel, sneakers, slippers. It’s hard but really you will not wear every shoe in your home closet and more importantly, you don’t have room for them all.

Don’t over pack.



  • Microwave
  • Mini fridge
  • Dishes and glasses to use every day (but probably not settings for 10 or 12)
  • Pots and pans (large and small pots and frying pans may be sufficient)
  • Coffeemaker
  • Hot pot
  • Mixer
  • Nice serving dish (if your loved one likes to cook, there will be entertaining and social opportunities)
  • Bedding (two sets sheets, blankets, pillows, comforter — easier than a separate decorative bedspread)
  • Bath towels
  • Hangers
  • Trash can(s)
    • Wall décor (photographs, paintings)
    • Curtains (check ahead; blinds are usually already in place)
    • Lamps, lightbulbs
    • Clock
    • Vase
      • Dish soap
      • Dish towels
      • Surface wipes
      • Window cleaner
      • Bathroom cleaner
      • Laundry basket
      • Laundry detergent
      • Dusting cloths
        • Basic toiletries
        • Medications
        • Small file or other storage for medical, legal, financial paperwork
        • Photographs to display or look at in books (digitize everything else to store)
        • Special heirloom or memento to give a sense of home
        • Small safe (but don’t bring jewelry, etc., that’s not regularly used.)


    • Television (if used; make sure your loved one knows how to operate it)
    • Music system (if used; make sure your loved one knows how to operate it)
    • Desktop, laptop, or tablet computer (if your loved one will use it)
    • Tool kit (some communities have workshop areas)
    • Hobby supplies (needlework, paints, craft materials within reason, cards, books, sporting goods such as golf clubs or bowling ball)

Whatever you think you need edit out 40% of it.

Oh, by the way, if you are sharing a bathroom you might not be able to leave your stuff in the bathroom.

You will have to carry it from your room to the bathroom and back again. Bring your own shower supplies. You’ll want a small bag or carryall that is easy to hang up where you can reach your soap, shampoo, and conditioner.

What should you bring with you if you are sharing a bathroom?

  • A waterproof shower caddy – either a plastic caddy or a mesh bag
  • Towels and wash cloths
  • A robe – for covering up after you shower – It might be a bit chilly in the halls even if you are not modest
  • Shower shoes – either flip-flops or crocs
  • Shampoo and conditioner – if you can use the 2-in-1 kind, you’ll save space
  • Razor and shaving cream
  • The shower gel is really easier than bar soap.


Which brings us to Laundry.

You may be doing your own. So you will need to bring your own laundry detergent, softener, stain remover and quarters. You will need a laundry basket or bag to get your stuff to the laundry.

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Don’t bring:


Halogen bulbs and/or lamps

Most landlords do not allow you to put holes in the walls so no nails.

You may not need an alarm clock if you use your phone.   Your phone can be your camera, calculator, calendar and address book.

This is not by any means a complete list if you want more tips on what to bring check with the facility.

Good Luck and cherish every moment.pams-bee-jpg


I am from Oklahoma. Now living the dream in Arizona. I'm a sassy, creative and outspoken southern gal. I believe that if you can read you can go anywhere. One of my favorite sayings is "If you knew you could not fail what would you do?" I enjoy helping other people. My friends know that I’m the queen of useless trivial knowledge and I will not hesitate to use it.

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