A decision to move to assisted living is difficult under the best of circumstances. And amidst emotional struggles and other transition stresses, it’s hard to remember everything that needs doing. If you’re moving to assisted living or helping someone who is, make a written checklist to ensure nothing vital is forgotten.

First Steps for Moving to Assisted Living

  • Choose the new residence. Research it carefully, visit in advance, and thoroughly review the final contract before signing it.
  • Be especially clear on details of medical care in your new location, especially if you have a chronic health condition.
  • If you take prescription medications, know how they’ll be managed: some assisted-living facilities ban medicine bottles in private quarters.
  • Determine how packing and moving will be handled: when hiring a professional moving company, book your day well in advance. If you need additional help, consult a senior living moving specialist.
  • Make sure utility providers know when to cut off services to the old residence.

Leave Time for Decluttering and Downsizing

Large, long-occupied homes inevitably collect more “stuff” than can be sorted through in a few days. Reserve one to three weeks before the move to go through everything and sort it into “move with me,” “give away,” “throw away,” and “store” piles. Also:

  • Don’t try to do the job alone. Get help from extended family, friends, and/or a professional organizing service.
  • Think twice about the garage-sale approach to unloading extras, unless you have experience and really enjoy it. More often than not, it generates a lot of additional stress and leaves piles of unsold items to deal with.
  • If you have additional stuff in an offsite storage unit, schedule time to go through that as well.

Find a New Permanent Place for Important Documents

And never undertake a large-scale cleanout without first putting hard-copy financial, medical, and legal documents in a safe, out-of-the-way place. It’s too easy to toss things out by mistake, or leave them in a desk on its way to the resale shop! (The same precautions apply to irreplaceable items such as heirlooms.)

Know What to Take—and Not Take—When You Move to Assisted Living

Things you’ll probably want to bring (after verifying what already comes with your assisted-living quarters):

  • Sturdy, compact basic furniture
  • Bedding and curtains
  • Towels and toiletries
  • Basic cooking and dining supplies
  • Dishwashing and laundry supplies
  • A week’s worth of clothing for each season
  • Clothing for special occasions
  • Laptop or desktop computer
  • A handful of photos or other sentimental items to make your new place feel like home
  • Favorite reading and hobby items (but don’t clutter your quarters with a hoard of leisure supplies—assisted-living communities have libraries and craft/game rooms)

Things that are best left out:

  • Large collections of fragile or valuable items (if you can’t bear to give these up, put them in safe deposit boxes or other secure professional storage)
  • Clothing that requires extra dexterity to get into
  • Tables or couches designed for large family homes
  • Throw rugs (potential slip-and-fall hazard)
  • Rolling chairs (ditto)

Send Change-of-Address Updates


  • Your extended family
  • Old friends
  • Your doctors, insurance providers, and Medicare/Social Security contacts
  • Your bank(s), other financial institutions, and (if applicable) pension provider(s)
  • Print-subscription and other paid-goods providers (including online accounts)
  • The post office, in case someone is overlooked or gets the message late

Plan Your First Day at the Assisted Living Facility

Enter your new residence with some idea of how you will set up your room, get acquainted with your new neighbors, and spend your first full day. This provides some sense of control and makes transition more comfortable.

One Final Thing

If the decision to move to assisted living and sell your beloved home to strangers is particularly painful for you, don’t hesitate to connect with a support group or therapist for help in working through your feelings. And remember: there’s nothing unusual or “wrong” about mourning the loss of your old life. The fact that change is inevitable rarely makes it easy to accept; but just taking charge of what you can still control is an important step in moving through the initial pain and learning to enjoy life as it is now.

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You don’t need to add extra stress to moving with worry over who will manage the heavy lifting. Contact us today, online or at 615-965-5640, to learn more and get a free quote!