Making the move to a senior living community can be a huge change — often one that's filled with positives. Many older adults who make such a move find that they're able to spend more time living their best lives and less time taking care of a home with rooms they don't need or worrying about their own safety and security.
But even those who are excited about the opportunities in an assisted living community, such as plenty of social activities and beautiful grounds to enjoy, may be nervous about making such a big change. One of the things people may wonder about is what to bring with them. For many older adults, a move into an assisted living community does mean a downsize — which isn't a bad thing, but it does mean making some choices.
We've made it a bit easier for you by creating a list of things you probably do want to bring with you and some things you may want to give away or store.
If you love your bed and sleep well in it, you'll definitely want to bring it with you when you move. The same is true for blankets and other bedding that make you comfortable. While you're certainly welcome to invest in all-new items for a true fresh start in your independent living apartment, sometimes having this major comfort from home can make a big difference in how well you slip into life (and sleep!) in your new home.
If you have several beds in your existing home, you likely will not need them when you move into a senior living community. Most assisted living apartments have one or two bedrooms. If you have a companion suite, you might want one guest bed. But talk to the staff with your intended community before you decide to ensure beds aren't provided.
Tour your potential independent living apartment to understand how much space you have and how things are laid out. Then, consider your existing furniture and what might fit where. Choose some of your favorite pieces to bring along. You might give other furniture in your home away to loved ones or sell it.
In most cases, you won't want to bring enormous pieces of furniture to an assisted living apartment. While many communities offer spacious, smart layouts with all the amenities you need to be comfortable, you're not going to have a giant great room or extra den. Opt for your most comfy love seat and armchair rather than a giant sectional. Choose a sweet bistro table over a dining table that seats eight.
Bring your clothing and other personal items. Anytime you move is a good time to go through all those items to declutter your closet and other areas. Consider getting rid of things that you don't wear, don't actually like or aren't comfortable in. Apply the same standards to accessories, cosmetics and any other personal items, boxing up only the items you use for your move.
If you've already boxed items up for storage, those are not things you typically want to bring with you to an assisted living apartment. Consider taking time, perhaps along with the help of a friend or family member, to go through items you have in an attic, a basement or a garage. You may find a few sentimental things you do want to keep. You might also want to pass items on to adult children or other loved ones.
Moving into an assisted living community doesn't mean you're changing who you are. If you have hobbies you enjoy, bring the supplies and equipment for them. Depending on what those hobbies are, you might have to think creatively. Sure, you could have an entire loom in an assisted living apartment living room, but it won't leave room for much else. Instead, you might want to consider downsizing to a smaller option, such as a cricket loom.
If you're an avid reader, you may want to consider downsizing your book collection. One bookcase of books will fit fine in almost any bedroom, but if you've got an entire library in your home, you may find difficulty fitting it into a one- or two-bedroom assisted living apartment.
The good news is that you can still be an avid reader. You might exchange your physical book collection for a digital one. A single Amazon Kindle can hold thousands of books and takes up a tiny space on the shelf. Many assisted living apartments also have libraries of their own that you can borrow from whenever you like.
Making the move to a senior living community can be fun and exciting. And surrounding yourself with the right items from your old home can be a comfort to you as you make this change.