Skip to main content

A Short Checklist for Moving a Parent to Assisted Living

Transitioning to assisted living is often a challenge for everyone. Parents can feel like they’re being isolated from their friends and family, while their children may be struggling with concerns for their parents’ wellbeing and safety. To ease the transition, adult children can assist their parents throughout the process of moving to assisted living.


Once the decision to move has been made, some important logistics need to be taken care of before you start packing. 

Before you get too far along with things, have your parents meet with their doctor. Their doctor can help evaluate your parents’ condition and provide suggestions regarding the level of care they feel is appropriate. The doctor can also help you with difficult conversations, such as telling your parents that you don’t think it’s safe for them to drive anymore.

Next, it’s essential to evaluate what type of facility will be best suited to meet your parents’ needs. Assisted living facilities often offer assistance with the activities of daily life, but they also give their residents the freedom to take care of themselves where they can. You’ll also need to choose a facility that you and your parents both feel you can trust and are comfortable with.

After choosing a facility, remember to set up mail forwarding with the post office so that your parents can get their mail sent to the proper address. While you’re at it, utility services will need to be canceled or payment responsibility transferred, depending on what’s being done with the house after your parents have left.

Elderly individuals are often kind-natured and like helping others. While these are very admirable qualities, they are also the sort of qualities that can make people more vulnerable to scammers. Your parents protected you while you were young; now it’s your turn to protect them. Take measures to protect them from scammers on the internet and over the phone. Talk to them about common scams that they might run into and help them understand what to do if that happens. Make sure you keep the lines of communication open so they can reach out to you if they need help.

Some facilities may provide their residents with pendants they can use to contact the staff if they need help. If the facility you’ve chosen doesn’t offer pendants for some reason, then providing your own emergency pendant for your parents is recommended. Doing this can help ensure that your parents will be safe in their new home and that they can get critical assistance quickly.

Getting Ready to Move

Once the logistics are taken care of, it’s time to start preparing your parents to move. That usually involves getting their house and belongings in order. Start by cleaning the house. Deep cleaning keeps the house in good condition. If the plan is to sell the home, buyers will expect it to be clean when they show up to look at it. If the home is being passed on to someone in the family, there’s still typically an expectation that the house will be clean prior to moving in.

After the house is clean, or even sometime during that process, it’s time to go through belongings. It can be tough, but that’s part of why you’re there supporting them. Decisions will need to be made about which items are moving with your parents, which items are staying in the house, and which items are being donated or sold. Your parents aren’t going to be able to take everything with them, and whoever ends up with the house is going to have their own ideas about what should or shouldn’t be there. Once decisions have been made, it’s time to start packing.

What To Bring

Moving your parents to an assisted living facility has some similarities to moving in general, but not everything is the same. The details of what they should bring will be somewhat dependent on the type of facility they are going to.


Unless the room or apartment comes furnished, furniture will be an absolute must. Your parents will need a bed and bed linens (including pillows and blankets), a nightstand, a dresser, and some comfortable alternative seating options. A small table can be nice to have as well. It’s usually a good idea to take a look at the place your parents will be moving to ahead of time so you can make sure that their furniture will fit comfortably in their new living space. If not, you may need to find alternative furniture items.


Decorations are part of what makes any place feel like home. House plants, pictures, clocks, and mirrors can be nice decorations to add to a space. Having boxes and containers to help keep the space organized can also be incredibly helpful. Keep in mind that space is likely limited compared to what your parents are used to. Too much decor can make a place crowded and cluttered, which often translates to safety hazards. Make it feel like home, but don’t go too crazy.


Clothing is another essential. Help your parents pack two weeks’ worth of undergarments and socks. Casual, comfortable clothes for daily use are great, but be sure to include some nicer, dressy outfits that they can wear for special occasions. Don’t forget things your parents can use to layer up with. Sweaters and cardigans are comfortable go-to’s that can look very nice. Don’t forget a bathing suit and a bathrobe. While you’re at it, throw in some towels and bed linens if you haven’t already. They aren’t clothes, but they’re still important all the same.


While many assisted living facilities offer activities, chances are your parents will want to have some things to do on their own from time to time. Help them pack things they can use to entertain themselves with. Books, a laptop or tablet, a TV, music selections, and hobby supplies are all great options. Take your parents’ hobbies into account when helping them make entertainment decisions. The more they can indulge in their hobbies, the happier they are likely to be.


Personal care and grooming items are necessary to the health and wellbeing of your parents. As such, toiletries are another must. They will need a comb or brush (or both), floss, toothpaste and a toothbrush, body soap, shaving cream, lotion, face wash, shampoo and conditioner, and other essential grooming tools.


The older you get, the more likely you are to become at least partially reliant on medications to maintain your health. If your parents take any medication, they’ll likely need to take their medications with them to the assisted living facility. Depending on the facility’s setup and the medications in question, your parents may be able to keep them on hand. Otherwise, they’ll be locked away for safekeeping with the other residents’ medications and distributed by the facility’s staff. Be sure to discuss this with management beforehand, so everyone is on the same page regarding medications.


What housewares your parents need to bring will depend heavily on the type of facility they go to. If they’re going somewhere where meals are prepared for them and served in a common dining room, the housewares they need to bring with them will be minimal. Regardless of where they go, a mini-fridge, coffee maker, and microwave can be an excellent addition. Trash cans and clothes hangers are a must. If they have their own kitchen, then pots, pans, dishes, and utensils are all going to be a priority. Again, make sure you aren’t overcrowding the space as you fill it with your parents’ belongings.

Personal Items

Personal items often carry a great deal of sentiment and can be of great comfort to people in assisted living communities. Photobooks and mementos can bring back precious memories. If room allows, and based on your parents’ needs, a filing cabinet or a small safe for special items may be useful.

What Not to Bring

Your parents’ safety is paramount, and as such, it’s important to avoid bringing things like rugs or anything else that could be a tripping hazard. Coincidentally, that’s also why it’s so important to avoid bringing too much clutter into the new space. Expensive items, valuables, or things that don’t see use very often are better off not coming to the assisted living facility.

How to Manage the Transition

The transition itself can be rough for your parents. Once it’s time to finally make the move, be there with them. Help them get set up in their new home. Take the time to visit often. Go on outings with them from time to time as well. This will help smooth over the transition period and make it more comfortable to be in a new living environment.

There’s a lot to keep track of when it comes to transitioning from living in your own home to an assisted living facility of any sort. The logistics and moving preparations need to be handled, packing needs to be done, and the actual transition itself needs to be made. Helping your parents throughout the process can help them feel more supported as they make this adjustment in their lives.