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Moving to a Nursing Home: Ultimate Packing List for Seniors 

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Moving to a nursing home

Last Updated on May 27, 2022 by ashley.davis

Most of us fear the idea of placing a loved one in a nursing home. Even though we are completely conscious of our limitations, we worry about relinquishing direct oversight and control over our loved ones’ care as family caregivers. For everyone involved, this adjustment is a harsh reality check.

You should start looking into your parent’s financial documents and essential paperwork as soon as you start seriously considering moving them to a nursing home facility. Unfortunately, many adult children delay their efforts to assist their parents with this transition because they are unable to locate some of the essential records.

We have put together a complete guide to support the shift to a nursing care facility. This guide outlines the things you can take with you, the essential documents to have with you, and some items you can leave behind.

Understanding Federal Nursing Home Regulations 

There are some Federal Nursing Home Regulations that nursing homes need to comply with. That includes:

  • Have enough staff to resident ratio
  • Comprehensive care plan for each resident with regular assessment
  • Clean and comfortable living environment
  • Appropriate bedding, furniture, and room situation depending on weather
  • Proper air circulation and natural lighting
  • Nutritious meal plan
  • Support activities of daily living
  • Regular supervision and appropriate treatment
  • Maintaining dignity and respect for each individual

Important Information to Know Before Moving to a Nursing Care Facility

Before moving into a nursing home, you must check the following aspects and ask questions about some of these specific things:

Living situation

  • Floor plans
  • Room plans (private or semi-private)
  • Cleanliness and hygiene maintenance
  • Safety and security protocols
  • Mood and appearance of current residents
  • Homely and welcoming atmosphere?

Facility amenities and services

  • 24/7 medical and non-medical supervision
  • On-site registered nurses and doctors
  • Continuous care assessments and treatment plans
  • Activities and socializing opportunities
  • Availability of common rooms, libraries, pools, etc.

Costs of services

  • Monthly median price and any hidden charges
  • Periodic changes in rates and their frequency
  • Cost justification compared to the services and amenities provided
  • Payment process and methods

Staff behavior

  • Do they have sufficient staff to take care of the residents?
  • Are the staff well behaved, helpful, and approachable?
  • Do they have the necessary certification and training?
  • How do they behave with their fellow residents?
  • Does the facility have feedback and complaint options if dissatisfied with staff behavior or quality of care?

The first thing to do before packing is visiting the nursing care facility. This will give you an idea of how much room space is available. There must be adequate space for caregivers to securely move and care for your loved one while using a wheelchair or other mobility equipment.

Inquire about the facility’s things and services included in the monthly nursing home costs. You will also get to know the extra charges for additional nursing home services that your parent needs.

We understand that moving to a nursing facility is not easy. However, it can make the process much more acceptable if you know the list of things you need.

A Complete Nursing Home Packing List

One of the most challenging aspects of the transition to a nursing home facility is helping seniors decide what to keep and remove. Most seniors have spent decades acquiring personal goods; hence it can be challenging for them to leave their residence and most of their belongings at the same time.

While these are the dearest and most important things they will need, proper documents are necessary to smoothen the transition process. Whatever approach you take towards the shift, it is effective to categorize the items to take with you.

Important documents

The first nursing home packing checklist we want to clear out is the important documents. The list of documents includes common papers and financial records. Financial records like insurance papers, Medicare certificates, and others are crucial to carry with you.

Below are some common documents that you will definitely need while shifting:

  • Birth certificate
  • Insurance card
  • Social security card
  • Medicare or Medicaid card
  • Organ donor card
  • A living will
  • Mortgage papers
  • Military records (if applicable)
  • Statements of any loan (i.e., bridge loan)

It is wise to keep several copies of the listed documents. You can always keep one to yourself and submit other copies if/when needed. In addition, you should develop a list of crucial contacts whom you may need to contact from time to time. For example, insurance agents, bank representatives from various financial institutions, attorneys, financial advisers, tax advisors, and even clergy people may fall within this category. These could be the people your parents are now contacting for help with different financial planning aspects.

Clothing items

Clothing items might have been the first thing that comes to our attention. But once we have the documents ready, it’s much easier to plan for other essentials. There are several factors to keep in mind when packing clothing items:

The clothes should be easy to clean. Your parents must feel comfortable in them, and they should be in good condition.

While the temperature within the facility is kept at a level that would be ideal for most active adults, seniors have a tendency to be cold. As a result, it’s best to dress in multiple layers. Ensure that your loved one has warm and comfy sweaters, vests, or coats that can be worn with any clothing and cozy socks for bedtime, and non-skid shoes.

The quantity of garments they should bring is determined by who will do their laundry and how frequently they will do it. A smart rule of thumb is to carry at least a week’s clothing.

Accessories are an important component of a person’s style and should be embraced! Pack nothing precious or with sharp points or edges. If your mom has always favored colorful scarves or sparkly jewels, make sure she has some to wear nearly every day. If dad has a thing for watches, make sure you pack him a few that he is fond of.

Personal care items

We all have our favorite soap, shampoo, lotion, and toothpaste that we’ve been using for years. This is no different for a senior entering a nursing home. Even something as easy as supplying their favorite brands and items can make them feel like their lives haven’t been flipped entirely upside down. The facility may offer some personal care goods, but they may come at an additional fee.

Make sure to select their favorite perfumes or preferred brands. Even if your loved one is bathed by others, using their products, particularly those with familiar aromas, can make the experience more pleasant.

Electronic gadgets

Gadgets can help seniors to pass their days with entertainment and connection. Smartphones, tablets, and laptops are popular among nursing home patients. If the facility offers Wi-Fi, make sure you’re aware of any passwords or costs and whether the bandwidth is sufficient to stream films.

If the Wi-Fi network isn’t secure, ensure your loved one doesn’t use it to access online banking or other sites where their personal information could be exposed to hackers and scammers. Using parental controls to prohibit some functions on their devices may be helpful.

All electronic equipment should be prominently tagged with the resident’s identity and, if possible, have a GPS locator in the event that they go missing. You can even consider getting them tracking devices for seniors with cognitive issues like dementia.

Favorite and memorable items

Sentiment immensely matters when parents get old. So, keeping a checklist of things that will make them feel “at home” is crucial. Packing their favorite artwork or posters can be an excellent pick. However, you should remember that wall space in nursing homes is often restricted. The facility may have constraints on the kind of hardware that can be used to hang frames. If nails are not permitted, posters can be placed in inexpensive frames to give them a more professional appearance.

Family photos are vital and can be displayed as a collage on the wall, on a bulletin board, in a scrapbook or photo album, or uploaded to a digital picture frame. Sticking a little label under each photo or on the back with the names and relations might also be helpful. This will allow seniors to share their pictures without having to recall everyone’s names and relationships.

Certain things are not allowed in a nursing care home, including China glasses, scented candles, weapons, and electric blankets.

Personal hobbies and leisure items

The beginning days can be challenging when your loved one is trying to recall new people and adjust to new routines. Most nursing home facilities offer a wide range of entertaining and social activities. But it is always best to be able to follow hobbies that they used to do in their own homes.

If your parents are religious, make sure they have their preferred religious books. This also includes additional prayer aids like a shawl, rosary, shawl, or other religious items.

Many facilities offer book libraries. There might also be a local community library that delivers books directly. If your loved one enjoys reading, make sure they have a few good books at their bedside. Even a book of inspirational stories or beloved poetry can be good for visitors to read aloud with them if they can no longer read.

Provide supplies for their favorite art or craft, such as knitting, or painting, in a labeled container. Adult coloring has recently become highly famous among the elderly.

Finally, if your loved one enjoys sending and receiving letters, make sure they have the required supplies. A few pens/pencils, a notepad or some paper, an address book, return address labels, and stamps are all necessary items.

Sentimental items

Sentimental items are something that seniors have a strong emotional connection with. They can incite positive emotions and reduce feelings of loneliness. These items can vary from person to person. For example, toys, letters, family photographs, a t-shirt, artwork, travel souvenirs, or postcards.

Make sure you include these personal items while packing for your loved one in a nursing home. It is possible that you may not be aware of all the things that have sentimental value to them. In that case, ask them and see if they’d like to have any particular item to carry with them to the facility. However, check with the staff if they have any forbidden items listed and pack accordingly.

Checklist before moving into a nursing home

Moving to a retirement home is a significant shift. There is so much going on, and it is very easy to miss out on important items while packing. So, it is best to list down the essentials to minimize the hassle. To make things easier for you, we have created the ultimate packing checklist for your move to a nursing home! Here it is:

Paperworks and Documents

  • Contract papers
  • Identity documents
  • Utility bills (e.g., cable TV, phone bills)
  • Health insurance documents
  • Medication list and medical history
  • Important addresses, phone numbers and emergency contact details


  • Toothbrush and hairbrush
  • Body lotion, lip balm, handcreams
  • Deodorant and perfumes
  • Soap, shampoo, conditioner
  • Coconut and olive oil
  • Make-up kit
  • Shaving materials
  • Dentures
  • Skincare products
  • Hearing aids


  • Dresses, pants, shirts, tops
  • Sweaters/jumpers, coats, a pair of suits or blazers for any event or formal occasions
  • Multiple pairs of pajamas and undergarments
  • Socks, gloves, scarves and hats to keep warm during winters
  • Robes and slippers

Gadgets and Entertainment Items

  • Tablets, smartphones
  • Music player/iPod with headphones
  • TVs, computers, radio
  • Chargers and adapters
  • Tracking devices
  • Safety and security devices (burglar alarm, edge protectors, etc.)
  • Mobility devices (Canes, mobility scooters, wheelchairs, etc.)

Personal Items

  • Family photographs
  • Old letters or postcards
  • Gift items from a dear one
  • Artwork or souvenirs
  • Any item with sentimental value

Hobby Supplies

  • Crafting supplies
  • Paint brushes, canvas, acrylic paints, color tubes
  • Board games, puzzles, and crosswords
  • Gardening tools
  • Writing materials
  • Books and magazines
  • DVDs

Home Décor Items

  • Bedsheets and pillows
  • Blankets or throws
  • Towels, rugs
  • Artworks/paintings/wallpapers
  • Flower arrangements and plants
  • Lamps, mirrors, clocks, wind chimes


Shifting to a senior care facility is a massive challenge for you and your loved ones. However, it is even tougher when it comes to a nursing care home. In addition, your loved one might be suffering from a medical condition that leads to the transition. Thus, your job would be to ease the process as much as possible.

Packing their desired items is the most effective way to go about it. But in doing so, don’t forget to keep the important documents and other papers. In addition, always remember to keep the essentials outside this list of items.

If you treat the shift as a scope to move to a new home, the process will be much simpler and more comfortable for all.

Frequently Asked Questions related to Moving to a Nursing Home

What should you think about when packing for a care home?

While packing for a care home, one should think about:

  • What’s allowed and not allowed as per the facility rules
  • Whether they have appropriate clothing and personal items
  • The care home services and amenities
  • Communicating with staff and letting them know about any specific requirements
  • Labeling personal belongings
  • Have all necessary documents in place

How many clothes should you pack?

It depends on the weather, laundry services, as well as the person’s preferences. But it is ideal to pack a full week’s worth of outfits and some additional items for any special occasion. The clothes should be comfortable and weather-appropriate. Make sure to pack enough pullovers, coats, socks, and other warm clothes for the winter season.

Can you bring your own furniture to a care home?

It depends on the particular care home. Some care homes allow residents to bring their furniture while some strictly deny it. Having said that, most care homes allow bringing small furniture or particles to provide a more homely atmosphere to the room.

Do you need to bring your own toiletries to a care home?

It is best to bring your own toiletries to a care home. The care home may provide the items on your request but might charge extra fees for that. So, it is recommended to pack your preferred toiletries on your own or ask a family member to arrange those for you before moving.

What do you do with items you cannot bring?

Unfortunately, it is not possible to bring all your desired items to a care home due to limited space or facility rules. However, you do not have to get rid of belongings that are dear to you such as jewelry or a pet. They can be handed over to a trusted friend or family member. You can also arrange storage space or sell some of the items.

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