When moving a loved one into a senior living facility, you can take steps to help make the transition easier and the new surroundings feel a bit more like home. Make sure you know what to bring and what to expect before moving day.

Understand the New Home

First, get a layout of the new space your loved one will be living in from the facility’s brochure or website to help visualize what to bring and where to place personal items.

Check out the room before moving day and test the provided furniture. If it’s uncomfortable, it may be worth asking if it could be replaced with your loved one’s furniture.

However, if the space is empty, you should be able to bring in whatever fits. Be sure to measure the dimensions of the room against the furniture you want to include. Also take into account storage areas and closet space so you have an idea of how much clothing and stored items you can bring.

Inventory and Jettison

With your loved one, take an inventory of their belongings. Then go through the list and decide what to hand down, donate or toss out. For example:

    • Hand down: Items that family members or friends would appreciate, such as large hobby collections, certain clothing (wedding dresses, military uniforms), expensive jewelry, family heirlooms, tools and appliances.

    • Donate: Unwanted but usable items such as furniture, clothes, extra televisions and electronics, exercise equipment, books, tools and appliances.

    • Toss: Cleaning supplies (check with the facility’s manager to see what cleaning services are provided), old papers and unusable items.

Your loved one may want to bring more items to their new place than is possible or allowed. Look into whether such items could be stored at the facility or with family and retrieved later if your loved one truly wants them–provided there is room, of course.

Making a New Home

What items to bring will depend on the type of facility and your loved one’s living situation. Nursing homes, for example, can have stricter rules and limited space, while units in independent living communities may have enough room to accommodate most of their belongings.

But even if you can’t bring an entire living room set, maybe you can bring a few select pieces of furniture that help your loved one feel at home. Experiment with the layout and bring as many familiar things as comfortably possible. Large items like beds and couches may need to be replaced with smaller ones.

Valuables and Insurance

If a valuable is lost or stolen at a senior housing community, your loved one could be out of luck. While theft is not necessarily common, communities are not required to carry theft prevention, so consider insuring valuables. Irreplaceable, expensive heirlooms might be better off with a family member.


Read the rest of our 7-Step Guide to Senior Housing:

1. Recognize If Your Parents Need a Change
2. Learn About Types of Senior Living Communities
3. Assess Your Financial Options
4. Tour Senior Living Communities
5. Know These Senior Housing Lease Clauses
6. Make a Senior Housing Community Feel Like Home
7. Manage the Emotional Toll of a Parent’s Move