Moving into assisted living is far more positive and uplifting than it used to be. There are many misconceptions about this new chapter in life, and one of them is about having to make your parents get rid of all the little things they love. The truth is, they can have everything they loved about their life and get to share it with peers who appreciate sentimental value. They don’t take on more stress. In fact, they have less to worry about at an Assisted Living home, and many more options to indulge in activities they enjoy, that bring them true joy. So, when the decision to move to assisted living is finally made, it can come as a great relief not only to the families of elderly individuals, but to seniors themselves. They can now get to enjoy good company, all while being cared for and treated with respect.
Once the all important decision is made, the next step is to look forward towards making the transition to assisted living. One of the important aspects of the transition is deciding what to take along.
Rule of thumb – downsize.
Different assisted living houses offer different levels of care and facilities, however most will offer certain basic items that aren’t necessary to bring along. Since meals are provided, there is no need to carry pots and pans or any major kitchen items, unless you have a favorite food item you’d love to cook for yourself and others. Large furniture sets are also usually not required, in fact there may not be space for any bulky furniture in an already well furnished home with well laid out common areas. Carpets, area rugs, large décor items can be given to family members or favorite charities. Large appliances, seldom worn jewelry, chairs on wheels (which could be a falling hazard) and things that aren’t regularly used are best donated as well. In the words of Marie Kondo from her book The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, “Keep only those things that speak to your heart.”
It’s a good idea to physically visit the house to see what they want to bring. Being there really brings it all into focus and can get their creativity flowing. They will see firsthand, what will go with their new environment, and what they don’t need. Refer to the list provided by the management yes, but that puts everything in their heads; being there can put the act of moving into their hearts. But wouldn’t it help to have a short list to refer to? We thought so, here it is:
1 – Personal items.
Pack and take along personal clothing, comfortable shoes and some favorite accessories such as bags, trinkets and a hat or two. A hat can come in very handy when indulging in gardening or other outdoor activities. Choose practical, low maintenance clothing which don’t need dry cleaning or special care. Take along a few dressy items for celebrations, get togethers or special events. We love celebrating festivals and making merry! It can also be a good idea to carry along some familiar items such as curtains or a potted plant to give a cozy, homey feel to your new living quarters.
2 – Basic furniture.
Some houses provide only beds, some provide mattresses as well, whereas some houses allow you to bring along your own bed and mattress. Check what the requirements and house rules are and decide accordingly. In addition to the bed, mattress, some favorite bed and bath linen, you may also want to carry along a few small items such as a dresser or a nightstand, maybe a small sofa and a chair or two. This would of course depend upon the furniture already provided and the amount of space available. Make sure that you know the dimensions of the room and doorway sizes when deciding what to carry along.
3 – Basic housewares.
Since meals are provided, there is little need to carry along any utensils except a few basics such as a few plates and bowls and pans. Choose items that you particularly like or which have some sentimental value. If you’re a tea lover, by all means carry your favorite tea pot. It may be a good idea to bring along a few personal appliances such as a small microwave or personal fridge and garbage bin so that you don’t have to use the common facilities and enjoy some flexibility and autonomy in your new home. There may be an onsite TV but if you prefer to carry your own, this may also be a good idea. Also consider carrying along a personal music system with headphones, as well as a laptop and hobby supplies.
4 – Toiletries, meds and cleaning supplies.
Carry along personal toiletries such as soap and shampoo and bath gel, moisturizers, creams and so on. Medications and any specific aids such as spectacles, compression clothing, supportive belts, and hearing aids must of course be taken along. Housekeeping is generally provided. However, if there are particular cleaning supplies that you are more comfortable with (or like the smell of) carry those along. Carry wipes, sanitizers and similar items that you commonly use.
5 – Personal mementos/décor.
Carry along a favorite painting or other wall décor such as a clock if you like. A few little décor items and knick knacks such as a vase or two from home can make a big difference. They help to add color and personality. They make the place homey and give a familiar and lived in feeling at a time when much else may seem unfamiliar. Pack a favorite mug, a few precious family photos and small items such as a special handmade gift from a grandchild, a memento from a happy holiday and so on. The idea is to create a space that is your own home away from home; a space that you find comfortable and familiar. Visit your new living space before you decide what to pack and what to leave behind. Speak to the other residents to get a better idea about what’s needed and what isn’t. Your new housemates will love to help in every way they can. Call 860-909-0333 to schedule an appointment
With a little careful planning, perhaps a visit to their new home, and a chat with their new neighbors and friends, moving will go from being some big effort in their minds to a new adventure in their hearts. With the things they love and the things they need at hand, the new home will quickly become a familiar and comfortable living space.