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Moving Elderly Parents Into Assisted Living Checklist

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Moving Elderly Parents Into Assisted Living Checklist

Convincing elderly parents to move to a more supportive environment and finding an assisted living community they like is only half the challenge when it is time for a senior to make the transition into assisted living. The next step is managing the often stressful process of downsizing and packing up their home.

To help make moving elderly parents to assisted living a little easier on the entire family, we’ve pulled together seven tips for adult children to use. Use this checklist for moving elderly parents to help make the experience a positive one for both you and your loved ones.

Checklist to Plan for the Transition to Assisted Living

This checklist will help you get organized for a senior loved one’s move. 

1. Set Realistic Expectations: 

Our first suggestion for moving an elderly parent out of their home is to have realistic expectations about how much you can get done in a day. Unless you are making this move in the middle of a crisis, try to give yourself and your parent permission to work at a more leisurely pace. Don’t try to downsize their entire home in a weekend if you can avoid it. Working at a more comfortable pace helps keep anxiety lower, while giving you the chance to reminisce about time spent together in their house.

2. Identify the Most Cherished Possessions: 

We all have things around our homes that we consider to be our treasures. These are the belongings we aren’t willing or want to part with. It can help you make plans for their assisted living apartment if you identify which items your senior loved one cherishes most and won’t make a move without. In the case of belongings like family antiques that just won’t fit in your loved one’s new apartment, ask your parent if there is someone in the family they would like to pass the piece on to. They may be more agreeable to parting ways with it if they know it will find a new home with a family member or friend who will appreciate it. 

3. Create a Floor Plan Layout: 

After your parent has selected the apartment or suite in the assisted living community that they will be moving in to, ask the staff for a detailed copy of the floor plan. Make sure dimensions for each room are marked. Then measure all of their furniture so you can create a layout of each room.

4. Begin in Rooms Used Least: 

If your parent has lived in their home for many years, it is probably full of things they won’t need after their move. But it can be emotionally challenging to part with so many treasures. One approach that might help ease them into the process of sorting and downsizing is to begin in the rooms they don’t use very often.

5. Sort by Final Destination: 

As you are working your way through sorting each room, think about items in terms of its final destination. Set up and label boxes by those destinations. A few suggestions for labels include: “Move,” “Charity,” “Family” and “Trash.” As you go through each closet or drawer, separate items into these boxes accordingly. Try to avoid creating any “Maybe” piles that you will have to go back through a second or third time. 

6. Get Involved at the Assisted Living Community: 

Because the downsizing process sometimes takes longer than you hope, it isn’t uncommon for older adults to begin second-guessing their decision to move. Make the transition go more smoothly by encouraging your senior loved one to start attending events and participating in activities at their new assisted living community even before they move. The staff can help make these arrangements. This will allow your family member to make new friends and get to know their way around before moving day arrives.

7. Create a Moving Schedule: 

Once you have an idea of what your loved one’s actual moving date will be, create a moving schedule or hire a reputable moving company. Keep in mind that some days and weeks of the month are more popular for moving than others. For example, moving companies will tell you that the end of the month and weekends are busy times for them. You may have better luck --- and get a better price --- if you plan to move on a Tuesday or Wednesday in the middle of the month. Use that date to schedule other contractors and to arrange for utilities to be turned off.

8. Assemble a Moving Day Box:

Our final suggestion is to put together a box of moving day essentials and valuables you don’t want the movers to handle. It should include medications, important papers, snacks, beverages and other necessities. Keep this box with you on moving day.

What to Pack When Moving Into Assisted Living

Once you’ve established a plan for moving your loved one into an assisted living facility, you’ll need to start the packing process. The exact items you need to pack may vary based on the community your loved one will be living in. However, this checklist for moving to an assisted living facility will help you ensure that your loved one has everything they need as soon as they make the move.

Home Furnishings

One important thing to remember when packing is that your loved one’s room at the assisted living facility will likely be much smaller than their current home. There may not be room for everything your loved one wants to bring. So, try to pack only the essential home furnishings:

  • A small sofa
  • Chairs
  • Nightstands and side tables
  • Folding chairs for guests
  • Bedding – comforters, quilts, blankets, pillows and sheets
  • Lamps for added lighting

You can always ask the facility for the measurements of your loved one’s new room. This way, you can ensure that everything fits the space. 

Personal Items

When your loved one is transitioning to assisted living, making them feel at home can be difficult unless you pack personal items that bring them joy. Think about the things your loved one interacts with and sees each day and pack what you can including:

  • Knickknacks
  • Photos
  • Keepsakes and mementos
  • Eyewear
  • Alarm clocks
  • Mobility aids like canes, walkers and wheelchairs

Prioritize these items when you can. This will help make the space feel more inviting and less foreign as your loved one adjusts to their new surroundings.

Does your loved one have too many décor items that can’t be accommodated in their new room? Consider separating items by season and storing them in bins. As seasons change, bring the new bins over and help your loved one switch out their decorative items and knickknacks. 


Your loved one’s assisted living facility will provide them with many essentials. But you should still pack your loved one’s preferred toiletries like:
  • Soap
  • Shampoo
  • Toothbrush, toothpaste and mouthwash
  • Lotion
  • Makeup and skincare products
  • Grooming aids like a razor and hair dryer
  • Other preferred personal hygiene items
It’s a good idea to touch base with your loved one’s assisted living facility before the big move. They’ll be able to tell you what types of products they’ll provide and which ones you’ll want to go shopping for.


Assisted living facilities provide tons of activities to keep your loved one entertained and engaged. But you can and should still bring entertainment items that your loved one can use between events or when they want time to themselves. The items you’ll want to pack will depend on what your loved one’s interests are, but may include:
  • A television
  • Radio
  • Books
  • Magazines
  • Coloring books
  • Puzzles
  • Playing cards
  • Computer
  • Hobby items like art or sewing supplies

Once your loved one settles in, you can continue adding to their entertainment options as needed.

We hope this checklist for moving an elderly parent to an assisted living community helps make the transition to a new chapter in life a positive one! Elmcroft communities partner with Moves for Seniors, a nationwide, licensed moving organization that manages your move from start to finish to make the process of transition as stress-free as possible. For more information about moving your loved one into an assisted living community, contact Elmcroft today. 

Resources to Help You Get Started 

Financial Guidance

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Caregiver Resources

We offer an array of resources that provide insight, tips and guidance for seniors, their families and caregivers. Head over to our blog to read helpful articles!

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Family Meeting

it may be time to have a talk with your siblings about your elderly parents’ needs and safety. While it may be a tough conversation to have, Elmcroft can help you prepare.

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"The Talk"

Starting a discussion about senior living can be tough. In fact, some adult children say it’s the most difficult conversation they’ve ever had with a parent.  But, Elmcroft can help!

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