An older man is excited for move-in day

Moving to assisted living checklist

Moving loved ones to assisted living isn’t easy for them – or you. The logistics of moving and making sure your parent or spouse is comfortable requires careful planning. As you support your loved one during this transition, it’s important to make a list and check it twice. To help your move, we’ve put together this ultimate assisted living checklist. We hope it will help you stay organized and cheerful during this moment. 

Tips for starting the assisted living checklist

Do yourself a favor and get started on the moving process early. Often seniors moving to assisted living are downsizing from their family home. There may be lots of items to take care of before move-in day. Here are some initial tips to get you oriented:

  • Talk to your loved one about his/her needs: Make sure you communicate with your loved one. He/she might have certain ideas about what should be given to children, donated or thrown out. Respect your loved one’s needs as you work together. 
  • Start downsizing slow and steady: Start with one room and work your way around the house. If you’re downsizing a large house, you should start early.
  • Identify prized possessions for a homey feel: Ask your loved one to identify three to six prized possessions that he/she can’t live without. These will go to the assisted living quarters. All other collectibles and knick-knacks should find a new home. 
  • Find forever homes for items that won’t fit: We recommend not making a maybe pile when you sort items. Try to make decisions in the moment – family, donate or dump – or might find yourself with a large maybe pile that you’ll have to sort again. 
  • Make a financial plan for relocation costs: Relocation can be expensive. Make a financial plan for how you’ll cover the costs. You may even identify some items to sell, such as extra furniture that’s in good shape.
  • Be sensitive to your loved one during this transition: Moving is never emotionally easy. Be sensitive and available for your loved one during this time. Don’t try to force your opinions. Support him/her as much as you can. 

Healthcare needs on the assisted living checklist

Don’t forget that moving may also mean new healthcare needs. Make sure to inform your loved one’s doctor, insurance plan, etc. if the move involves a new health network.

  • Talk to your primary care doctor: Make sure he/she knows about the change of location and ensure it’s still in-network.
  • Make sure any medications are in order: Some assisted living facilities will assist with medication refills and management. Check in so that all medications are in order with the new address. 
  • Plan for any weekly errands: Moving also means a shift in expectations. You’ll want to make sure it’s clear who will be taking care of errands in the future. 

Logistical needs on the assisted living checklist

In addition, changing addresses also entails key logistical actions. To get your contacts updated, you’ll need to:

  • Forward any mail: Many seniors still send letters to friends and family. Getting mail forwarded may be important to them.
  • Inform friends of address change: Update your loved one’s address book with a change of address card. 
  • Make plans for any pets: If your loved one has pets, you’ll want to make a pet plan for move-in or find a forever home for it. 
  • Take your time selling the home (if applicable): Selling a family home can take time. If possible, don’t rush the process in order to get the best new buyer possible. 

Tips for moving on the assisted living checklist

The process of downsizing and preparing boxes can be lots of work. You can make it easier on yourself by taking these actions:

  • Hire a licensed and insured moving company: There’s nothing worse than having a no-show on moving day. Make sure you’ve got a licensed company for move-in. 
  • Clearly label everything: Lots of boxes could create confusion. Label everything with its contents and final destination for clarity. 
  • Store any heirlooms and fancy dress: If your loved one has valuable items that he/she doesn’t want to bring along, you could offer to safeguard these heirloom items in your home or a bank box. 

Example packing list on the assisted living checklist

The packing list will be different for every senior, but here some main categories to keep in mind. 

  • Personal items: purse/wallet, documents, photos, keepsakes, day jewelry, aides like glasses, hearing aids, canes/walkers, etc. 
  • Clothing: casual daywear, as well as clean underwear, socks, pajamas, slippers, warm winterwear and comfy shoes. 
  • Toiletries, medications and first aid kit. 
  • Entertainment items: TV, radio, computer or iPad, chargers, books, puzzles, cards, hobby items, etc.
  • Limited home furnishing and decor: Find out what the room or apartment comes with. You may need a bed, side table, dresser, small sofa, chair and desk. Decor may include plants, pictures, mirror, etc. 
  • Limited homeware and cleaning supplies: kitchen supplies, cleaning supplies, one set of tableware, trashcan, towels, linens, hangers, curtains, etc. 

What you’re able to bring also depends on the size and dimensions of the assisted living room or apartment. It’s a good idea to plan the new space for what will fit and what won’t. It’s always better to take less than more. 

What NOT to pack on the assisted living checklist

Moving can be stressful, but you can avoid common pitfalls. When deciding which items to take or not, be sure to leave behind these types of items. 

  • Limit collectibles: One or two are fine, but sets of collectibles should find forever homes. This can be difficult for seniors. One possible idea is to take pictures of all the collectible items and put them in a photo album for your senior to look at. 
  • Get rid of multiples: Take just one or two favorite possessions and leave behind the multiples. If not, the new home will feel cluttered. 
  • Forget about large, old or damaged furniture: It’s time to get rid of large, old or damaged furniture. Most assisted living is humbly-sized, so you’ll want to find new homes for furniture like this. 
  • Don’t take old or stained clothing: Wardrobes can easily accumulate. As you go through clothing, get rid of old or stained clothing. If that leaves few clothes, you can offer to take a shopping trip with your loved one in the near future. 
  • Items in storage should find a new home: Avoid simply boxing everything up and sending it to storage. Try to sort it out and find forever homes for items.  

Tips for a successful transition to assisted living

Moving to assisted living is an exciting decision! Seniors are sure to get the help they need, make new friends and create a new home. To help the transition process, you can support your loved one with these tips:

  • Get one new item to make a new memory: Having one or two new things can make the new room or apartment feel special. 
  • Make note of new emergency contact info: Make sure you have all the new contact info for any urgent questions or emergencies. 
  • Plan end of life care: It may be time to start planning for end-of-life care, including advanced directives and wills. Start this conversation slowly to avoid overwhelming your loved one.
  • Visit often at first: As your loved one gets settled in, be sure to visit often! The most urgent needs come up within the first month or two. Be 100% certain that your loved one is comfortable and has everything he/she needs. 

Moving to assisted living is a new chapter in your loved one’s life. You can make it a pleasant and non-stressful transition by planning ahead and using this checklist for success. Happy housewarming!

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