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Not sure how much furniture we should be moving. On the one hand, I’ve heard, less it more. On the other hand, she has always complained about her house’s lack of storage or closet space. In fact she’s a pack rat. Not sure how it should be furnished besides taking a single bed, tv, and lounger to sit on. She owns several stand along wardrobes, not sure how many she should or could fit into a small studio.


Does anyone have a packing list for this type of move? I’d like to find an official looking one and print it out for her since she never listens to us about what to take.

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I sort mom's clothes between summer and winter. Half of her clothes I store in my home and switch them with seasons
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Take the things that will look most like the room(s) she uses the most right now. If she stays in living room most of the time, take her favorite chair, side tables, sofa, or perhaps a nick-nack shelf to hold some of her favorites. Same for her bedroom. I think it's better if they do not arrive at a new place noticing they have nothing left from what they are used to. Maybe one wardrobe to use as storage plus it is familiar piece of furniture. Wardrobes fitted with wooden shelves make great food pantries, medicine/medical storage, etc.

Scale down the clothing to the items she uses most often because they are familiar. Other pieces of clothing that she seldom wears, but newer items, store those at your house and take them to her as she needs something newer to wear.

You might sit with her in the living room/den (her usual spot) and look around the room. Does she have some little collectibles or items that you could display on a shelf at the new place? Ask her - would you like this chair or that chair at the new place because there's not room for both. Mark the chair she wants with masking tape so she can see. Make a copy of the new place's floor plan so she can see there's less room - and when you decide on a chair, draw it on the floor plan. Do the same for pictures she has on her walls now - mark the ones she likes the most.
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You're going to have to downsize. Tell mom that she can't bring everything, obviously.
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Are you sure the IL community doesn't have floor plans to give you to plan where your furniture will go, or even some one who comes to year home who suggests what furniture to take and maps it out for you? Many ILs offer one of these services. If not, see if they'll let you measure the space in a vacant apartment, and then measure and plan where to put existing furniture (or to add new, if, for example, you want an ottoman that offers storage and thus fills 2 functions). This may sound overwhelming, but I've done it every time I've moved, and it's not too difficult. I realize there is another issue in terms of what is specifically needed in her living situation. Having more overall storage is not a reasonable expectation, though. One of the reasons for moving is to get rid of a lot of things that you'llno longer need. This is the hard part!
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Riverdale Oct 2019
Good suggestion regarding the floor plan. I was given one. Between the 2 AL facilities my mother has been in, a certain amount of furniture was provided as an option. Not everything but some pieces. Different ones in each places. Because they belonged to the facility the scale of them was good and they provided storage. You might inquire about this. There was no extra charge at either place. They happened to be just the pieces my mother did not have as she had been in an apartment that had built ins.

Each resident can be so different as to their needs. My mother has a love affair with magazines and newspapers. Therefore for her a desk,bookcase,coffee table get put to good use. If you can analyze her situation you might be able to choose what is best. I think you should definitely rely on the closets and a dresser and not a wardrobe. Some studios can be as large as a 1 bedroom. I keep some seasonal items at my house and switch them out when needed. Both places allowed her own art work to be hung even doing it for her. If she has some things that she treasures she could be happier.

One of the most meaningful statements my mother made early on was that she was grateful to feel safe and cared for. She had been living in a big city and had to rely alot on herself for her needs. I lived then 40 miles away and she was not making her decline known to me. She had falls on city streets. I hope you might be able to think about what she enjoys most at this point in life and personalize her place with some of those elements.
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You can't take it all. 400 sf is not a lot of room. You have to leave space to walk around and for a wheel chair if it comes to that. Limit it to clothes and furniture that suit her new lifestyle. Bed, dresser, chairs, table, TV, linens, shower curtain, curtains or shades, minimal kitchen items (pots,pans, dishes, flatware)... Keep a few symbolic things if she is attached to them, photo albums, books, chatchkas, but not much. The more you can get rid of things the better. Is she going to a Senior Facility? If so, get their advice. They may have a list. Rugs are often considered a trip hazard and some places won't allow them (e.g., assisted living).
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Not sure about a list, but when I helped my mother-in-law move, I measured all of the furniture pieces that she wanted to bring (within reason), went to the apartment, and with a roll of blue painter's tape, mapped out the location of each. Then, she could see for herself if there was enough room between each piece of furniture to negotiate a walker, not stub your toe etc. It really helped.
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Best thing we did was to have the consultant from the facility come in and look at furniture and their floor plan. Go through house with this person and she will map it out. There are actually apps out there that will do the same thing. We then used one of their referring companies to come in after they left to completely clean out of the house FOR us. They boxed everything up for donation/ charities, boxed up things to be sold, shredded what needed to be shredded, hauled off paint, took bitems to be sold to auction. Had the house completely cleaned and ready to be shown to sell. House was sold 14 days later. Would do it again in a heartbeat. Took immense stress of my husband and me. Assisted living facilities have these all available. Movers, decluttering, down sizing, preparing house for selling. As a note we used our own realtor.
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First take WHAT IS NEEDED FOR HER TO LIVE AND BE COMFORTABLE! Next take the great memories for her to see everyday THAT WILL MAKE HER HAPPY NOT SAD!!!! Next if allowed and your mom likes them GET HER A KITTY!!!!! That companionship will add joy to every hour of her day and give her many more days and you call her EVERY EVENING FOR 5 MINUTES TO SEE HOW SHE IS AND TO TELL HER YOU LOVE AND MISS HER! If there are grand children work out so they rotate being caring and good people and 1 calls each day to chat for 10 minutes BUT MOSTLY LISTENS TO GRAMMA AND TEACH THEM HOW TO CHANGE A CONVERSATION IF SHE IS SAD !!!! Love & caring Dr jack Grenan
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So sweet.
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Someone suggested drawing a floor plan and measuring furniture. I did that and it's very helpful. Also, if possible, ask if you can see furnished rooms. That will give you ideas. I believe you said it's a studio, not a one bedroom so the bed will be in the same room as everything else. In some ways that is better for someone with dementia. As my mother's dementia progressed, she needed to see everything in her apartment and became anxious when she couldn't. We were better off in a studio at that point. I switched my mother's queen for a single. A dresser functioned as a TV stand. My mother insisted on taking a narrow tippy cabinet that was painted with designs. However, I had it attached to the wall so it wouldn't fall and it was great storage for pull ups, Kleenex, etc. A small table or desk is nice for when your mother needs to eat in her room. Table or floor lamps make it homier. Think of something that can go on the door to help her identify her space. Keep in mind that residents with dementia may wander into her room and take things. You need one locked space. A small locked curio cabinet on the wall helped to keep small favorites on display but protected from casual "theft" Don't bring valuables. Label absolutely everything!
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When I could no longer let mom stay in her 3bd/2ba house with dementia, I  moved her into a "studio" assisted living apartment.  It is a large studio compared to others I have seen.  We took her queen sized brass bed, a tall dresser, her TV and a Bombay chest to sit the TV on and a lamp.  That was all we took from her home.  We bought an apartment sized couch, foot stool, chair and side table.  I didn't want the studio to look cluttered...didn't want tripping hazards, etc.  I bought a room divider that is behind the couch to hide the bed...it give some separation of space so that it doesn't feel like one big room.  I bought some nice black frames, filled them with family photos and hung them on the wall.  I told mom we were decorating her fancy new apartment and she was excited about it.  It looks great and the facility has actually used her apartment to show folks that are considering moving there.  My mom tells people "my daughter decorated if for me".  LOL  I had to sell all of her other furniture that I could and then whatever didn't sell was donated to Goodwill.  My biggest complaint about the studio apartment is the closet for her clothes is just too small.  Truthfully though, it is better to have less when they have dementia.  I only put a weeks worth of clothes in the closet to choose from.  It is too confusing for her otherwise.  Anything off season I put in a storage tub in my garage and I switch out her clothes as the seasons change.  They make the bathrooms quite large because some folks are on walkers or in wheelchairs.  I was able to purchase a beautiful glass front cabinet for her bathroom.  We keep her soap, toilet paper, toothpaste, towels and washcloths in it and she can see what is in there.  Just remember less is more at this stage in the game!  In the AL facility where mom is, everyone decorates their doors, so I purchased several seasonal wreaths for the door.  I tried to keep her "moving in" upbeat and fun.  The other side of that coin I kept from her... she was not involved in the cleaning out and getting rid of all of the crap in her house.  It was exhausting trying to get rid of everything and I was angry and exhausted and hated everything she had crammed into that house!  Good luck with your move.
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AT1234 Oct 2019
Same here, but we ended up moving to 1 bd just bc of closet issue. Keep it simple we should’ve stayed in studio.
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Oh boy, I think we all go through this when it is time to transfer living arrangements. When I placed my brother in AL, years ago, it was a nightmare. He was a pack rat too. To me it was all junk, but not to him. Sooo, the weed out started. I had the necessary furniture moved to the studio, bed, night stand, recliner, small table and 2 chairs. Once they where in we could asses what else would fit. I was able to get a bookcase and shelves up. I did rent a small storage locker only so he would not freak out about his stuff being disposed of. At the beginning I would take him to the locker and he could take 2 things. After a month he lost interest in the locker - he stopped mentioning it. I waited 3 months then got rid of it all. I have a wall lamp installed by the bed for him to eliminate the space for a lamp...they had a ceiling light you flipped on when you come into the room.
If you have the time letting her go through everything with you - we had 3 bins - Keep, Donate, Trash. Filled everyday until we had to do the move. What was left went to storage with the idea that we would sort more later, but as I mentioned he lost interest. Don't be surprised or alarmed when and if she starts to tell you how much she hates her new home and that they are mean...It is all about the change and their age, mental status and health. I sort the help of the social worker at the AL. They know how to deal with this and help you through it. My heart broke for months until he adjusted. He's in a NH now and prefers to be there. When I take him out he is only good for a few hours then he wants to go home. There is an end to the move tunnel - it just takes tons of patients and time.
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Some advice I read that seems helpful to me is that it's much easier to start with what you are keeping rather than to decide what you are getting rid of - go through her things and select the items you "need" for each room, then add in a few favourite keepsakes.
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I moved my mom from Oklahoma to Georgia. She rented an apartment for a year before buying a ranch condo. I printed out the floor plan from the apartment's website and it was 840 sq. ft. Together we grafted the furniture placement. On her old garage floor, I drew out a box with chalk the size of the moving truck. It helped her visualize how much she could logistically pack & take. We rented 26 ft. truck because moving quotes started at $8,000 on up.

Mom accidentally donated the newly purchased moving boxes, paper and packing tape. So out of self preservation, I drew additional boxes with the chalk. I placed each charities' donation with their name within the chalk lines. She and I cleaned out her 3/2 house with workshop in 2 weeks. Because the schedule was so tight, I didn't donate to charity without a box truck. We also rented a dumpster for the 2 weeks.

She he ended up with 3 recliners, 2 end tables, 1 small accent chair and her grandfather clock for the living room. We also brought her small entry table. For her dining and kitchen counter bar, she has a round table with 4 chairs, her china hutch, 2 bar stools and a couple of planter stands.

For the bedroom she has a full size bed, 2 nightstands and 2 single dressers. She also has a small chair for dressing. Since the apartment has a patio she also brought her glider bench and I purchased a small bistro set.

She has had ample room to safely get around. We are now in the midst of the move to her condo which is larger.

Good luck and remember to try to have a little fun.
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Judysai422 Oct 2019
Love, love, love the idea of drawing out the space on garage floor. When my parents moved to AL, my mom wanted to take everything, which of course she couldn't. They had a large dining room table and when going through all her decor items, I told her she could take whatever fit on top of the table. That helped her pare down. We did the same with her clothes, which she had the hardest time parting with. You could use moving boxes in the same way...
Good luck.
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My MIL is also a pack rat. 6 years ago she and my FIL moved from their small house to and bedroom apartment in a retirement facility. They took a most EVERYTHING from their house and filled every inch of the apartment with their JUNK! When my FIL died my husband discovered they had been living beyond their means and did not plan financially for my MIL to live alone. Her money will run out in a few years. Within a month after my FIL's death my husband and his kids had to move her to a studio in the same facility. They moved her first before vacating her former apartment so there was a week or two overlap. This worked out because she could set up the studio and knew what she HAD to get rid of. Also, she set it up in 2 sections that were divided by dressers back to back with TV sets back to back...one facing her bedroom area/bed and one facing her living room area so that it really does look like 2 rooms even though the space is very small. If you are able to move her to the studio first and then get rid of the rest of her stuff it may be easier to do. If not, I would picture in your mind a small bedroom and small living room and choose items that will fit in those spaces. Good luck!!! My MIL fought this tooth and nail when she first moved to the studio but she had NO other choice.
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I hav ebeen Moving and Grooving for many years. I should have Become, Hun, A Professional. TAKE what is MOST important, Get Rid of the Rest, And perhaps YOU can Help by Taking Some Stuff to your House..Help out this Poor Pack Rat.xx
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Judysai422 Oct 2019
Yep, I hope I never stay in one place too long. Moving alleviates the pack rat tendencies. Also, each time I move, I choose a different style of decor, so out with the old and in with the new!
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When I moved my father from his home and into a mobile home in my front yard - we took what was necessary and left the rest in him home - just in case!

As he got used to living with only the necessities, we were able to start discarding what was left.

Can you put all her non-essentials into a Storage Unit? Later, after a couple of months, you can start getting rid of things she hasn't missed.

Good luck to you - it wasn't easy at first but after a month my dad was thrilled to be down to only the essentials. Besides, he built his collection up again on his own.

My dad had a Beer Mug Collection and I placed the nicer ones above his kitchen cabinets so he'd feel at home - it worked better than I could have hoped.
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Ika. Yes, you have to put it together but their instructions are easy. They have amazing ideas on storage. That's what they are all about, storage, storage, storage. Especially for small areas.
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Just looked briefly.. very briefly... book case as a head board. Make sure book case is secured safely to the wall, heavy things as stated below bed level..
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Not a tall bookcase. Maybe 4 feet high, actually more square then not. That alleviates the risk of tipping over or injury from reaching high.

He could turn the lamp off after he laid down to go to sleep.
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Go ask a local assited living facility or independant facility for a list. Yo don't have to get rid of everything right away. Get her in, pull some stuff in, decorate, look at it, and go from there. Social worker may be able to help
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My dad shared a room, so I bought a bookcase that had 5 shelves and was about 1 foot wider then his single bed. This was used as his headboard and it gave him a place to put a light, the shelves below the mattress level were used to store extra dog food, depends and anything else that didn't need easy access. Then I got him a 2 drawer night stand. I also got the largest dresser the room would hold and stacked the 2nd nightstand, that was his pantry, he had a small fridge and his tv on top. Ample storage for his stuff. He also had a chair and a hospital rolling table that could be stowed over the bed during the day.

I stored daily items in top drawers and less needed items were placed lower down based of frequency of need.

He had a closet that gave him a out 2 feet of hanging space and that was it.

If I had to do it again I would definitely do the bookcase as a head board, it was so handy for all of the items he wanted near and held a ton of stuff to keep things organized.

He had about 75 square feet of space, max. So 400 sq ft will hold enough items to create good storage and still allow safe floor space.
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Didn’t think about eyesight with glass table. Good point! All who suggested making a graph to fit furniture is great too. Yes, walker and wheelchair accessibility is so important.

Bare necessities! Photos on walls are lovely.
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If mom is ready to downsize that's two thirds of the battle and yes, do it before she heads out to IL.  Think about what is absolute need, then for the wants you think shelving.  In the 400sqft place, go vertical.  NeedHelpWithMom has great ideas.  Is this an assisted living space or renting an apartment?   I lived in a studio that size for 13 years.  I learned to fold things very neat and small.  I was a "Marie Kondo" before her time.  Tables of any kind have to have dual purpose, drawers are key.  No glass table tops as with elder and eyesight this might become a problem.  If there is space on walls/floor, place a book shelf for the "want" things and make it tall, but so she can still reach what she wants.  Night stand by bed should be like a living room side table so it's large enough to carry the needs of two night stands.  A floor lamp (3 way if you can find it), takes less table space as well but if by the bed, a light with a switch on the cord.  Certainly try to repurpose anything she already has to include cedar chest which makes for great seasonal storage.  Dresser in the closet if you can and seasonal organize the closet so it's easier for her to know where her appropriate clothes are.  Mark the closet.  Ikea has great closet and clothing storage ideas.  If she has a recliner loveseat, that would be great.  A tv stand should also have dual purpose, maybe a cabinet with doors for storage.  Good luck.
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Look at an IKEA store or catalog for ideas on using mini space like the new room. Fascinating ideas on how to use minimal space.
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Ludmila Oct 2019
yes. I want to keep accessibility in mind. Thanks!
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What we did when we moved my inlaws to indy living is we measured their furniture. We drew out the floorplan to scale onto a big piece of paper and inserted furniture into it. That way we knew what would fit and what they could take. Leave enough space for wheelchair, walker, rollator, turning easily, etc. 400 sf is not a lot of space, and will quickly fill up. She needs a straight line to the front door and to the bathroom.
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Ludmila, downsizing is always a major challenge. And a lot depends on the room's foot-print. Is the room a square? Rectangle? Triangle?

What I did for my Dad when it was time to move to senior living, I got graph paper and drew out the footprint of the room, noting where the door and windows were.... each square was one foot. Then I would cut out to size the bed, night stand, dresser [TV went on the dresser], high-boy dresser, recliner, etc. and move those pieces of furniture around the graph footprint of the room.

Dad's senior home already had a wardrobe so I needed to work around that. Extra clothes could go into under-the-bed storage boxes until needed. My Dad had numerous bookcases and a ton of books, and luckily I was able to squeeze those into the room. Those bookcases/books were Dad's safety cocoon. So if your Mom insists on taking certain items, let her bring them if they fit, even if those items don't make sense to you.

Dad and I use to joke about his new "college dorm room" :)

Check and see if the facility supplies the linens [sheets, pillow cases, and towels]. My Dad's facility provided those items and everything was washed daily. Dad had his own bedspread and pillows.

Lighting is important. Usually there is a ceiling light, but one would need a lamp next to the bed, and others on the dresser [if the TV isn't huge], or on other furniture. Maybe a floor lamp for next to the recliner.

And of course, bring Mom's favorite pictures to hang on the wall.

Does the facility have small living rooms out in the common area? If yes, then Mom won't need extra chairs in her apartment.

Oh, check and see if the facility has basement store rooms that are rented out. One could bring extra items to rotate around depending on the season.
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When I was single my absolute favorite rental was a converted attic apartment that was essentially a studio. It was furnished with antiques. Beautiful claw foot tub and pedestal sink. It was lovely. Old New Orleans home in a great neighborhood, well well kept.

I had a double bed, a large chifforobe, small vanity table and a sofa. I was not a pack rat and it was perfect for me.

Your mom’s apartment will have closet space so I would replace a chifforobe with a tall chest of drawers. I would use nightstands with drawers. You can even buy beds with drawers underneath.

Shelves can be installed on the walls.

I would use a small round table and chairs. Glass tables give a more open look.

Try to envision a nice hotel suite. Or ask a New Yorker. They know how to utilize space in Manhattan apartments!

An ottoman with storage can be used for a coffee table.

Isn’t it best to weed out unnecessary ‘junk’ before you move? Have a garage sale, give to charity, etc. Sorry, I don’t mean to offend you by calling your mom’s belongings junk but it amazes me what people choose to keep. You will have to purge. She can’t take everything from a three bedroom house with her. It won’t fit. Good luck with the downsizing!
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An organizer has taught that the items in the laundry after a week are the clothes needed and worn. Not the ones in the closet. So take and pack away the clothes now hanging up, box them up. Store them a month or so, until Mom may need them and asks for them. The weather is changing, so keep a few sweaters and a coat. Something dressy. That's it on the clothes.

Use the closet provided, no wardrobe furniture needed.
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