Pets are an important part of many families. When choosing to move to a senior community such as an assisted living facility or personal care community, seniors have the choice of where to go. For a senior with a pet, many want to keep their pet when they move and must search for a pet-friendly community.
Pet-friendly senior living communities encourage residents to bring their furry companion when they move to an assisted living, independent living, or personal care community because of the health benefits universally recognized when caring for a pet. However, considering bringing a pet is a big choice and must be viewed in light of the responsibility and maintenance needed to care for the pet properly.
Benefits of Pet Ownership
There are many benefits associated with caring for a pet. For instance, studies cite a reduction in depression and decreased loneliness associated with pet ownership.
While a senior living community provides daily socialization and interaction with individuals of all ages, sometimes a pet in a person’s apartment provides a senior someone to care for and talk to throughout the day. This sense of purpose helps provide a schedule which some seniors like to follow. For example, each day the individual is responsible for feeding the animal, taking the pet out to go to the bathroom, and walking the pet. By “scheduling” these activities, there are times of the day that the senior looks forward to and may help focus them on a purpose for which they are responsible.
Pets can also increase ones physical activity by walking and playing with the pet throughout the day. And, of course, pets are often the source of smiles and laughter for their owner.
Below are a few benefits of pet ownership:
- Reduced depression and loneliness
- Lowered blood pressure
- Lowered cholesterol and heart disease
- Increased physical activity
- Increased sense of purpose
- Improved mood and positive emotions
What makes a good pet?
When considering a pet for a senior at an assisted living community, you’ll want to consider a few things. First of all, contact the community about their pet policy. The pet policy will include the types of pets allowed in the community – often cats, small- and medium-sized dogs, birds, and fish – including weight or breed restrictions. Most communities ask that you only bring a pet you currently have (not a newly adopted animal).
Additionally, when thinking about bringing your pet to live with you in senior living, it’s important that the pet has a good temperament. Is the animal well trained and behaved? Is it suitable for being around older adults? Is the pet calm and low maintenance? Since the senior is in charge of caring for the pet’s daily needs and ongoing care including feeding, walks, potty time, grooming, medical care and medication management, bringing a pet that is relatively healthy and low maintenance is important.
In general, cats, birds, and fish need less ongoing care than dogs. For individuals who want a low-maintenance pet, these options may best suit senior who rather not provide the attention that a dog needs.
Of course, having a pet at any age is a big responsibility and may not be the right fit based on the demands of the pet and the health of the senior. While evaluating the pet’s behavior and medical condition are important, the senior’s ability to provide the care needed to keep the animal healthy and active is just as imperative.
Questions to Ask a Senior Living Community
If you have decided to bring a pet to your new senior living community, be sure to choose a pet-friendly assisted living facility (or personal care community). Here are a few questions to help you start the conversation with the community’s team.
- Do you allow pets at your assisted living community?
- What types of pets are allowed or are pets decided on a case-by-case basis?
- Are there weight or breed restrictions for pets?
- Is there an age restriction for the pet? For example, are puppies allowed?
- What maintenance of the pet is the resident responsible for?
- Where can the animal use the restroom?
- Is there a pet deposit or monthly fee for having a pet? Does it vary by the type of pet?
- What is the limit for the number of pets a person can have?
- Where can the pet go in the community? Where areas are restricted for pets?
- What pet health and vaccination records are needed?
Bluegrass Senior Living is a pet-friendly community located in Somerset, KY in Prospect. Call 859-474-7856 to learn more.