Updated: Jul 2, 2020
Over the past 7 years, I've been asked all sorts of different questions from the families/caregivers I have helped. But, the most common question after the decision of moving their loved one to an assisted living has been confirmed as one of these two:
What items does the assisted living or memory care provide for my mom or dad?
What items/things do I need to pack/purchase before moving mom/dad/loved one into the Assisted Living or Memory Care apartment?
Moving and packing is tiring and tedious for any one (especially if you are doing all the moving and packing without hiring professional movers). Unfortunately, as we get older, moving gets harder and more cumbersome. That's why when moving your mom or dad to an assisted living or memory care community is sometimes one of the hardest tasks to complete. This move is not only an adjustment for them because they are leaving their home and safe zone, mom or dad feels they've lost their independence, too. These new surroundings and adjustments are unlike any other adjustment period after a move, and that's why having this list of items purchased and figured out prior to the official move-in date is key.
Most older adults benefit more when the children/caregivers actually physically help with the moving and packing process. Moving can be emotional and stressful so having a strong support system for your loved ones will provide comfort and security in this needed decision. Once you start purchasing the recommended items on the list, be very careful and sensitive to your mom or dad's emotional attachment to items you might think can just be thrown away.
Here are the first five recommended items to bring when moving to an assisted living or memory care community:
2 sets of twin extra long bed sheets (hospital bed size)
1 comforter or blanket
Bed bug and allergy cover for mattress
1-2 pillows with beg bug covers
5 of each: body towels, hand towels, washcloth
The full list of recommended items are attached below:
During COVID-19, it's needed to bring face masks for safety from the virus.
Most of the time, the assisted living and memory care apartments are a lot smaller then the home they are moving from, so be thoughtful in the process of their sentimental items they want to bring with them. These items might not seem necessary to bring, but if it helps them feel comfortable about their upcoming move, don't fight it. It is very important to have mom or dad feel good about their new move by creating a similar environment/home to the one they just left. Before the official move in day, it is crucial to establish the sense of style and decoration that mimics their current home. Whether that is bringing moms glass animal collection or dad's drawings of boats framed on the wall - whatever is familiar and important to them, bring it to their new apartment.
I was working with a daughter (client) to help find her mom an assisted living after her mom's husband passed away. After he passed, she started losing her memory and only would remember memories with her husband and her kids when they were younger. That is all she would talk about. The daughter decided, before mom made the move to the assisted living, she needed to hang all the family photos from her home in her assisted living apartment. The apartment was lined with family photos and detailed decorations that emphasized their families dutch heritage and memories. When it was mom's move in day, they both walked into the assisted living apartment and mom started crying happy tears of joy. After a couple weeks, she didn't remember missing her home because the apartment looked so much like home and she felt at home. The daughter was ecstatic mom was adjusting well and felt confident knowing mom had her meals, medications, housekeeping, social activities and her own safe home.
Fun fact: this sweet lady, still lives in this apartment and this was 6 years ago. She is the most active, positive and healthy 96 year old I know! The family photos and dutch heritage decorations helped her so much with feeling comfortable in her new apartment she immediately adjusted and the family is so pleased.
Please copy, email, print yourself a copy of the attached recommended 20 items to purchase or pack when moving a loved one to an assisted living or memory care. This is important to have completed prior to the move, to have an idea of what is needed during the planning time frame. No one knows your loved one better than you do, so remember to pack things that you know will help them feel at home quicker. Highly recommend using their current furniture from their home to help with the adjustment so they can acclimate to this being their new home with familiar items. Avoid cluttering the new apartment and keep their current furniture/decorations to avoid confusion.
Reach out if you have any items you have found helpful for your loved one, that I don't have on my checklist. I would love to know new items families/caregivers find absolutely necessary to bring and why!
Laura Cassell, CDP
Aging and Dementia Care Expert
Pearl Care Solutions & Senior Care Authority-Gulf Coast