As you prepare for a move to assisted living, you’re probably hearing a lot about how much you have to get rid of. A room in an assisted living community has limited space, and for most seniors, that means you’ll have to downsize before moving. But you want to be careful not to go too far in the opposite direction and get rid of items you actually need to bring with you.
Assisted living communities will provide a lot of what you need, but they don’t provide everything. If you get rid of certain essentials before you show up on moving day, you may find yourself scrambling to replace them at the last minute.
Top 10 Items to Bring With You to Assisted living
Here are 10 of the most important items to bring when you move into assisted living:
1. A bed.
Assisted living rooms typically aren’t furnished. You’ll want to be able to sleep soundly on your first night in the community (and for every night thereafter), which requires having a bed and a mattress to go with it. For many people, that will mean hanging onto the bed you have now and bringing it with you, but that’s not the case for everyone — the size of your bed in comparison to the size of the room obviously matters here.
Pay attention to the floor plan and measurements of the particular room you’ll be moving into. You want to know before move-in day whether your current bed will fit alright, or if you need to switch it out for a smaller one.
2. A dresser.
You’ll likely also want to bring along a dresser for storing your clothes and other small items you bring, or some other item that will help you keep your things organized and out of the way.
You may have enough space to keep more of your furniture than this, or you may need to trade in some of the furniture you have now for smaller pieces before the move. But for most assisted living communities, these are the main pieces of furniture you’ll want to be sure to bring with you.
3. A nightstand.
Another piece of furniture most people consider integral is a nightstand where you can set your drink, lamp or your reading. Your room won’t come with this included but should have space for you to bring your own (as long as your bed isn’t too big).
In addition to the bed itself, be sure to bring your blankets, pillows, pillow cases and sheets. Everything you need to be comfortable in the bed should get packed.
5. Clothes (but not too many).
Chances are, you’ll need to do a good amount of cleaning out your closet. But make sure you hang onto enough items to keep you clothed and comfortable during your time in assisted living. That means definitely keeping some of the comfy items you’ll want to wear around the room, like robes and slippers, as well as the clothes you’ll wear for meals and social activities at the assisted living community and for trips you’ll take away from home.
To help you figure out how much of your current wardrobe you can keep, see how much can reasonably fit into the dresser you’ll be bringing and look up the dimensions of your room’s closet.
6. Entertainment device(s).
While assisted living communities offer a number of activities to keep residents busy and entertained, you’ll still have time on your own to find ways to amuse yourself. Most seniors will benefit from bringing along some kind of device to help you stay entertained, such as your own small computer, iPad or TV.
You can’t move in with a big screen TV with a full sound system, so if that’s what you have now, you’ll need to downgrade. But a small item that makes it easy to bring your favorite games and movies along with you will help you pass the time during the day and ensure you won’t miss out on the entertainment you enjoy.
7. Personal decorations.
In addition to the photos, think about a few small items you can bring to make the room feel more like your own. That could be pictures drawn by your grandkids, a small plant, or a painting or two that used to decorate your house.
You’ll only have a little space to work with to decorate the room in your own way, so use what you have wisely to make the room uniquely yours and ensure you enjoy your time in it more.
8. Photos of loved ones.
Many seniors are initially resistant to moving to assisted living because they worry it will feel isolating. One way you can keep that feeling at bay is to fill your room with images of your family members and close friends. If you don’t already have a few good framed photos, then ask your family members to pick out a favorite photo of them and help you get it framed before your move.
While space may be limited, a few good photos of the people you love will help the place feel like home and give you constant reminders of the people outside of the facility that are thinking of you.
9. Shower curtain and toiletries.
The assisted living community will include the shower and usually the rod, but the rest is on you. Bring your shower curtain along for the move or buy a new one that will fit the dimensions of the shower (if needed).
Also, be sure to pack all your toiletries and bring along items like paper towels and toilet paper. While your assisted living home will probably include housekeeping, it doesn’t hurt to bring along some basic cleaning supplies as well for any messes you need to clean up in between their visits.
Towels are another item it’s up to you to bring. A set or two should provide what you need for showers and any basic cleaning needs.
If you’re moving from a house or a large apartment, then you’ll still have to leave a lot behind or get rid of it. But you don’t have to give up everything.
Make sure you hang onto the items that will be most important and useful to you during your assisted living stay.
Have you made the move to assisted living? Which other items to bring to assisted living do you have that we didn’t mention on this list? We’d like to hear your suggestions in the comments below.