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What To Take & What To Leave Behind When Moving to Senior Assisted Living Facilities

Moves are stressful under even the best circumstances. Transitioning from your home into a Senior Assisted Living Facility can introduce some challenging new variables to the moving experience. The complexities of downsizing to a smaller space, as well as difficult emotions surrounding the realities of getting older and parting with a lifetime’s worth of belongings can bog down the packing process and hinder your move. 

Thankfully, there are some things that can simplify the most challenging aspects of packing and smooth your transition to assisted living. In this post we will take a look at: 

  • Things to do before you begin packing
  • What items to take with you to a senior assisted living facility
  • What items to part with

Let’s dive in. 

Things to Do Before You Begin Packing

There are a few steps to take before you start making decisions about what to take and what to leave behind when moving to an assisted living facility. Accomplishing these tasks early on will make the rest of your decluttering, packing, and moving process go much more smoothly: 

  • Visit your new home to get a look at the new space. Understanding the layout will help you determine how much—and what—you can bring with you. If you’re moving to assisted living in another state, see if you can arrange for a virtual walk-through or at least request a detailed floor plan. 
  • If possible, talk to other residents of your new assisted living facility. Ask them about what they brought with them and what items they wish they had brought.
  • Contact your sales manager or move-in coordinator:
    • Ask if they can provide you with exact measurements for your new space. They may even be able to provide you with a floor plan for your home. 
    • Ask them if there are any prohibited items and what types of furniture or appliances they provide.
    • Find out if they allow pets.
  • Invite your family over to review which family heirlooms and much-loved belongings of yours they may want.

If these tasks seem overwhelming for you or your family members and you need help organizing belongings or managing the transition into the assisted living facility, you may also want to consider getting in touch with a company like Moves for Seniors. Our Senior Move Specialists can help you navigate the entire process, including: 

  • Downsizing and choosing what items to bring along
  • Space planning based on your new floor plan and your unique needs
  • Packing and unpacking your belongings
  • Move management and oversight, including booking and coordinating movers (either local or long-distance)
  • Shipping items to families across the country
  • Settle-in service (a specialist will arrive on the day of move-in and helps set up the home for an immediate living)

What to Bring to Senior Assisted Living Facilities

Deciding what to bring and what to leave behind is one of the most complicated and emotionally fraught aspects of moving into senior assisted living. When choosing what to bring to a community, remember that the space will be much smaller than you’re accustomed to—especially if you are moving from a house—so decluttering or setting aside items for storage is essential. 

These are the items that you will want to bring to your new assisted living facility: 

  • A selection of clothing (put anything you want but don’t presently need, such as winter coats, into storage)


PRO TIP: When packing clothing to bring, make sure you sew or label each item, even underwear. At many assisted living communities, housekeeping washes all clothing in bulk and proper labelling ensures the items are promptly returned to your room. 


  • Personal toiletries
  • Grooming accessories (hair brush, blow dryer, etc.)
  • Medication and prescriptions
  • Adaptive or assistive devices that are not provided by the community (ie. walkers, grabber tools, jar openers, hearing aids, glasses, etc.)
  • Mementos, collections, and tchotchkes from travels and life
  • Handmade crafts and gifts that are special to you and will make the space feel like home
  • If there is space, small or integral pieces of furniture that may include: 
    • Chairs
    • Footstool 
    • Small sofas
    • Nightstands
    • End tables
    • Chest of drawers
    • Bookshelf
    • Bed
    • Floor- and reading-lamps 
  • Bedding, knit blankets, quilts, throw pillows, and comforters
  • Artwork and framed photos
  • If there is a kitchen area in your room, pack a small selection of kitchenware such as forks, knives, spoons, plates, cooking utensils, pots, and pans
  • Appliances that are confirmed not to be provided or banned by the living facility (i.e. coffee maker, television, radio) 

If you are bringing your service animal or your assisted living community allows pets, you will want to bring your animal and its care items along: 

  • Pet bedding
  • Food 
  • Medications
  • Leashes, collars, and toys

What Not to Bring to Senior Assisted Living Communities

Assisted living residences provide a higher level of care than a senior independent living environment. As such, the apartments are usually smaller and in some cases furniture or appliances are provided, reducing the amount of stuff you need to bring along. Confirm with your sales leader which items are provided and prohibited before you decide what to bring with you and what to leave behind. 

NOTE: If you’re struggling to make decisions about which items to part with, you may benefit from senior moving assistance. Senior move coordinators can help you sort through your belongings and decide whether they can be gifted to family and friends, donated, sold, recycled, or brought along.


Items you should not bring with you to assisted living may include: 

  • Expensive or valuable items—Due to the communal nature and high traffic volume of assisted living apartments, there is a risk of theft or damage. 
  • Clothes you no longer wear or need
  • Large collections of items—Try to pare down collections to your favorites or absolute essentials.
  • Large rugs—Some communities may ban even small rugs as a tripping hazard. 
  • Large furniture
  • Large appliances or appliances that are already supplied
  • Small appliances such as microwaves or heat plates
  • Space heaters or air conditioning units


Relocating to an assisted living community is a new experience with challenges you haven’t faced from a move before. Prepare yourself by:

  • Finding out how big your new home will be and how much space you have to work with
  • Learning which items are provided by the assisted living facility and what items may be prohibited
  • Carefully consider what items to bring with you, what to gift to family or friends, what to donate, sell, or discard

Are you feeling overwhelmed? Get in touch with one of our senior move coordinators.