Helping Seniors Downsize: What to Bring to a Senior Living Community

Part one of our series on helping seniors downsize.

There is a lot to think about when helping a parent move to a senior living community. Many families wonder what they should pack to make the transition as easy as possible for their loved one. With so much to think about, where do you even start?

Fortunately, most senior living communities offer helpful guidelines for the basics, especially regarding prescriptions and medical paperwork. Our list includes the basics, plus the extra-special details that really make a new community feel like home from day one. Read on for helpful tips to make moving day – and beyond – go smoothly.

What should you bring to a senior living community?

There are the obvious items, like everyday clothing, personal care items, and family photos. But, how do you decide what else to bring to help make the transition as stress-free as possible?

See below for pointers about furniture and décor, clothing and personal items, household items, and the special “extras” to make your loved one’s new apartment feel like home. Use this list as a starting point to get creative.

Furniture and Décor

In some senior living communities, residents personalize their spaces with all of their own furniture and décor. Other communities offer a combination of partially furnished and unfurnished apartments. Regardless of which you choose, these are the items that make a comfortable living space:

  • Bed and bedside table.
  • Sitting area (chairs or couches) and tables.
  • Bistro-sized dining table and chairs.
  • Desk and chair.
  • Television.
  • Décor items that feel like “home.” Consider which items are most meaningful and comforting for your loved one. What would they most like to see on their walls and in their bedroom? What might delight them each time they step through the door?
  • Avoid: items that create a trip hazard, like area rugs and lamps with trailing cords.

For inspiration, see how Sunnyside Manor residents and their families have decorated and furnished apartments in our virtual tour of Independence ‘Plus’ Assisted Living.

Clothing and Personal Items

  • Pack clothes that feel and look good! If time permits, start with seasonal clothing first. Give your loved one time to adjust and determine what they like to wear in their new community.
  • Weather specific gear, like hats, sunglasses, and a raincoat.
  • Comfortable shoes.
  • Purse and/or wallet.
  • Pajamas, robe, and slippers.
  • Medications, including over the counter. (Medication protocols will vary from community to community, and also vary depending on whether your loved one manages their own medications. Ask the community for guidance.)
  • Toiletries, like hygiene products, haircare supplies, and cosmetics.
  • Assistive devices such as hearing aids (with extra batteries), glasses, canes, and walkers.
  • Avoid: unwearable or uncomfortable clothing, shoes that create a trip hazard, expired medications.

Household Items

  • Small collection of dishes, cups, and utensils.
  • Basic cleaning supplies. While senior living communities provide regular housekeeping (and extra help is just a call away), a small stash of paper towels, napkins, dish soap, and surface wipes are helpful for occasional crumbs and drips.
  • A coffeemaker or electric kettle, if your loved one enjoys having coffee or tea in their apartment.
  • Telephone and address book.
  • Personal electronics and chargers.
  • Paper and pens.
  • Trash bins.
  • Linens and towels (if not provided by the community).
  • A nightlight for each room, including the bathroom.
  • Avoid: duplicate items, cutlery, extra appliances.

Extras: Special Items to Really Make a New Place Feel Like Home

In each category, prioritize items that say “home” to your loved one. Is it their favorite reading chair? The clock radio that has been on the nightstand for as long as you can remember? A favorite mug? Consider also:

  • Items that will help your loved one adjust to their new community.
  • Entertainment – whether that is a new book of sudoku puzzles, a DVD of their favorite film, cards, games, or books. Even though communities like Sunnyside Manor have a robust activity program, having “downtime” is important, too.
  • Hobby items, like a knitting or sewing basket.
  • Photo albums.
  • Favorite snacks and drinks.
  • Plants and fresh flowers.

8 Great Tips to Help the Move-In Process Go Smoothly

Here are tips from the pros to help make the process as easy and stress-free as possible.

  1. Remember to get rest and seek support. Helping a parent move to a senior living community can take a lot of physical and emotional energy.
  2. Ask for apartment measurements, and whether there are furnished resident apartments that you can see (in person or virtually) to get ideas for furniture arrangements.
  3. Follow the community’s guidelines for medical records and medications.
  4. Moving day can be hectic, so pack an overnight bag for your loved one’s first night. Include toiletries and clothing for the next day.
  5. Consider surprising your loved one with a new print of a recent family photo when they move in.
  6. Look to the community staff for assistance with “heavy lifting.” Here at Sunnyside Manor, our staff are available to help arrange furniture, hang pictures, and take care of other tasks that come up during a move.
  7. Ask the community if they have recommended movers who are familiar with the layout of the community and apartments.
  8. Consider whether your family would benefit from the services of a senior move manager. Senior move managers can help with logistics, space planning, and the downsizing process.

Whether you’re just beginning the process of researching senior living or planning for moving day, our family is here with you every step of the way. Get in touch with one of our experts to learn more about making the move to senior living.

Learn More About Why Families Rely On Sunnyside Manor

When it is time to make decisions about senior living, we are here to help. Sunnyside Manor offers assisted living, memory care, and skilled nursing and rehabilitation. Learn more about Sunnyside Manor’s resources for caregivers. Whether you’re looking for short-term support or a longer-term plan, begin with our “Getting Started” guide. Please call us at 888-696-2052 to speak with a senior living expert.

Sunnyside Manor, located in Wall NJ, is the area’s premier senior living community. It features three distinctive neighborhoods: Independence ‘Plus’ Assisted Living, Recollections Memory Care, and Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitation.

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