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Packing for Your Assisted Living Community: Helpful Dos & Don’ts

Moving into a new home is a big deal that can come with a lot of questions. What items will fit where in the new place, and what items should you leave behind or give away?

At Bethesda Senior Living Communities, we know that these questions certainly arise for many of our residents as they make the move into their assisted living apartments. And while you’re dealing with the excitement and nervousness of shifting to a new community and lifestyle, you don’t want to have to stress over details such as what you should or shouldn’t bring with you.

To help make the move to your new faith-based assisted living community as enjoyable as possible, we’ve provided some tips for packing, including what you may want to bring with you.

But we also know that every resident of our communities is a unique individual who is wonderfully made by God, and your needs and preferences aren’t the exact same as everyone else. So, as you consider the tips on this list, know that many of them are just that — suggestions that you decide for yourself to follow or not. (Although, there are certainly some rules for each assisted living community, so make sure to check with yours for guidance before you make decisions about what to bring.)

Do Check to See if There are Prohibited Items

Staff at all of our communities strive to create a welcoming, flexible home where you can relax and enjoy a vibrant lifestyle. Your assisted living apartment is your private home, and you have a lot of leeway when it comes to your furnishings and decor.

However, our goal must always be the safety of all residents, so there are a few items that aren’t allowed. Burning candles aren’t allowed in the apartments, for example, because they present a fire hazard for the community.

You can substitute other items for burning candles if you find the flicker of flame or the scent enjoyable. Battery-operated LED candles can offer a similar flickering glow, and you can use an essential oil diffuser or a wax melter that plugs into the wall to imbue your home with favorite scents.

Talk to the staff at your new assisted living community about what might be prohibited so you can find ways to replace any of those items with new ones.

Don’t Try to Re-Create Your Entire Home

Old habits are hard to shake, and you may be stuck on what made you comfortable in your existing home as you think about furnishing your new one. But remember that an assisted living community offers many amenities that your current home doesn’t, including:

  • Prepared meals and dining areas
  • The possibility of kitchens you can use during cooking classes or when hosting a family event
  • Common areas such as entertainment and computer rooms or libraries
  • Outdoor gardens and walking paths

You don’t need to turn your assisted living apartment into a small replica of your current home, complete with a spot to represent every room. You have an entire community to make use of, so your apartment can become a personal haven for relaxing, having a quick snack, bathing, and sleeping.

Do Chose Some Things That Make You Comfortable

But you may want to bring some of the things from your current home, as familiar and well-loved items can provide comfort during a transition. Think about your favorite piece of furniture to relax in while reading a good book, your favorite wall hangings, or a table or side chair that has an especially personal story behind it. These are the types of pieces you might want to bring with you in addition to personal belongings.

Other options to consider include favorite coffee mugs, a couple of kitchen items such as plates and bowls, a bookshelf with your top reads and electronics that you use every day.

Don’t Buy Into a Belief That These Choices are Forever

Remember that what you bring with you to your assisted living apartment is not what you’re stuck with forever. You can add to or change your collection at any time.

If you’re not sure about what to bring from your home or are worried about making the wrong decision, consider ways to keep your items available to you should you want to make a change in the future. Some options include:

  • Keeping your current home as is, with all your remaining items, for a few weeks while you settle in and learn more about how you might live within your apartment.
  • Paying to store your items in a storage unit.
  • Asking various loved ones to hold on to some of your belongings for you in case you want them later.

Remember, you don’t have to make this transition alone. Reach out to family and friends — and the assisted living staff — for support as you go through each step.