Assisted Living – What To Take, What Not To Take

posted in: Elder Care, Health, Living | 0

Seniors who need to move into assisted living can be paralyzed by the choices they have to make. How do you decide what to take and more importantly, what not to take? Adult children, with no previous experience with moving a senior either, feel the same or greater level of anxiety over this move. Marilyn Ellis offers you tips and advice on making this transition as seamless as possible.

The need for a senior to move into Assisted Living may present itself unexpectedly. Everything was going fine until they suffered a fall, stroke, or another unexpected event that has changed their ability to live independently. You, the adult child or guardian may live a fair distance. You have a busy life and schedule. Their needs are now too great for you to care for them. They need expert care and constant attention.

If you haven’t visited an Assisted Living Community in several years or maybe never, you are in for a happy surprise. They are nothing like the early 20th century horrors of a nursing home.

In major population centers throughout the U.S. many are like cruise ships that never sail – beautiful common rooms, elegant dining rooms, media centers, beauty shops and meeting rooms. The program director is much like a cruise director, encouraging residents to partake in a myriad of activities. Seniors can stroll or sit in beautiful outdoor gardens, sign up for craft classes, lectures and field trips, hop a shuttle into town or to an appointment or just gather for wine around the grand piano every afternoon at cocktail hour. Pets are often welcome.

Sounds delightful, doesn’t it – and it is. So why do seniors resist moving? One big reason, of course is cost. These places are expensive and Long Term Care Insurance is a new phenomenon. While we are living longer than ever before, our pensions and savings are running out because the old model of retiring at 65 and dying by 70 isn’t true any more. Even with poor health, medical science is extending our lives. The money isn’t expanding at the same time. While extended families were nearby to care for their seniors, families are now scattered and few are close enough, able or equipped to care for a failing elder. While you may think that a senior community is out of your price range,there are ways to get financial help or even reduction in costs. Contact a Senior Housing Specialist for help.

Another reason is ,that after living in their home for 40+ years, the Senior cannot decide what to take with them and what to leave behind. The choices can be overwhelming and paralyzing. They’ve been watching the auction shows on TV and think everything they own “might be worth something” or just have so much stuff, they don’t know where to start.

If you must move your beloved senior to a senior community, here are some guidelines:

First and foremost, get your senior out of their home and into their new community before you try to sort through a lifetime of possessions. This is what you need to take.

In most cases, senior apartments have a kitchen, a living room, a spacious bathroom that can accommodate a wheelchair and a 10 x 12 bedroom. Total sq feet is around 700 sq ft. That sounds small, but remember your senior will be busy outside of their apartments with lots of activities, and will be eating all three meals in the common dining room with other residents. The kitchen will probably contain a refrigerator,sink, a microwave oven and two cooking burners. There will be space for dishes and a few pots and pans. There will be a small pantry too, possibly a dishwasher. In many or most cases, the senior will never want to use any of these things anyway.

What to take:


A small table no larger than 36″ diameter, 2 kitchen chairs. 4 place settings of dishes and cutlery, a few cooking pots/containers, waste basket, small appliances, microwave if not provided.

Living Room:

1 six foot sofa plus 1 chair or 1 love-seat and 2 chairs. TV, credenza , video equipment, telephone, bookcase or curio cabinet for photos and keepsakes. Coffee tables are a tripping hazard.


I Full or Queen size bed 2 nightstands, 1 telephone TV, video equipment as needed 2 lamps, 1 dresser and mirror or 1 chest of drawers. 1 chair bedspread, pillows, 2 sets of sheets.


Laundry basket, waste basket, 4 sets of towels, grab handles in tub/shower.

You will want to make sure that the bedroom closet has double hang rods. Seniors usually wear separates rather than needing full hang rods. If you can afford it, install a small set of pull out wire drawers for shoes. There are many inexpensive closet units such as Elfa and Rubber Maid that are perfect for this need. This will be an additional cost but well worth it in convenience and extra storage.

The magic comes in the accessories. When I visit senior apartments that are devoid of personal effects, it always breaks my heart. Don’t believe them when they say they “don’t care” and they don’t want anything. They do care, they just won’t admit it to you. They always tell me later that they are sorry they pretended they didn’t care. They were trying not to be too much trouble or were just being cantankerous at the time.

The reverse is trying to fit everything in their new space. Too many pieces of furniture creates a warehouse effect and can be hazardous and stifling in a small space. You can’t fit 2,000 sq ft of stuff into a 700sq ft space no matter what you do. Less is more.

Make sure that their beloved keepsakes, within reason, go with them. Determine what they really love – meaning what carries memories and makes them happy. Some things will have to be left behind. Take what will fit on the bookcase, curio cabinet or on the walls. Take all photo albums to store in the closet and re frame photos where necessary. I often find the photo frames to be old and falling apart. Renewing them is honoring their memories. It is important to make sure their family photos are displayed in their new home. Your senior loved ones are proud of you and want to see your photos and show their friends.

Try to re create their living room and bedroom accessories placement as closely as possible to their previous home. Senior Communities will provide window blinds on the windows. Warm up the windows with store bought valances.

Don’t forget to provide a couple of small outdoor chairs and a small table if your seniors apartment has a patio or deck.

Memory Loss/Alzheimer’s/Dementia

These beloved seniors will have small rooms with a single bed, night table, dresser and chair and a bathroom. They won’t need a kitchen. We really don’t know what their awareness level is so make sure that familiar items, and photos go with them, even if you are not sure they remember what they are. When in doubt, take it with them. They will spend their awake hours in the common areas under supervision and encouraged to engage in activities matching their abilities. The staff will tuck them in safely at night. Often, their residences are on the upper floors of assisted living communities where they can have an enclosed inescapable rooftop garden in which to stroll and entertain visitors.

Knowing all of this in advance will save you time , trouble, worry, and inconvenience. Properly designing their closet and storage will make an enormous difference in how they settle into their new home. Making this transition as seamless as possible will make a huge difference in your stress level too.

If you are unable to move your senior on you ownArticle Submission, contact the National Association of Senior Move Managers for a professional senior move manager near you. They are seasoned experts who truly enjoy helping you and your beloved senior make this important transition.

Source: Free Articles from

Comments are closed.