Transitioning to an assisted living facility or nursing home can mark a big change in the life of any senior. This move can be even more difficult when seniors have beloved pets that they want to bring with them. The good news is more and more nursing homes and assisted living facilities are becoming pet-friendly to accommodate seniors and their furry friends. Finding one of these pet friendly retirement communities can have a very positive impact on the life of their residents.
Why Pet-Friendly Assisted Living Facilities Are Important
Moving into senior housing marks a major change in the life of any senior. Though it is often an afterthought, finding a pet-friendly assisted living facility should be considered a "must have" for animal loving elders. There have been many studies on the positive impact that pets can have on elderly people, especially those suffering from dementia or the early signs of Alzheimer's disease. It is thought that the steady routine and responsibility of caring for a pet may help to slow down the progression of certain types of dementia.
Most importantly, pets provide seniors with love and companionship. They can enrich the lives of seniors, especially those who are home-ridden and no longer able to get out as much as they want to. The presence of a pet can greatly decrease feelings of loneliness and isolation in seniors and can even prevent depression.
Keeping a pet from home can also make the transition to assisted living much easier. The loss of independence people often feel can be very difficult but a pet can make them feel a little bit of home in their new community. On the other hand, separating people from their pets can increase the feelings of loss.
Tips For Seniors Transitioning to Pet Friendly Facilities
Seniors who do decide to bring their pets to their new assisted living facility may find they need to take a few extra steps to ensure a smooth transition. Below are some considerations and recommendations:
- If seniors don't currently have a pet, it isn't recommended that they adopt one before moving to their new community. Many senior care facilities are wary about welcoming new and untrained pets.
- Think of the needs of the pet. Some smaller, older, or lower-energy dogs may do well in senior living communities. However, larger, younger, and more energetic dogs that are used to having a yard may not do as well with this new life.
- Try to keep pets on the exact same schedule in their new home to help make the transition easier. Keep eating times, bathroom times, and exercise times all the same.
- Give pets at least a week or two to transition to their new home before introducing them to new animals or people. As this is also a difficult transition for pets, they need time to settle in.
Simple tips like this can really go a long way in helping both pets and seniors feel more comfortable with their transition to their new life in an assisted living or retirement community.
Different Types of Pet-Friendly Assisted Living Facilities
There is no shortage of different pet-friendly senior housing throughout the country. Some senior living homes, such as Keystone Villa at Douglassville in Pennsylvania not only allow pets inside the rooms but they also allow pet visitations for residents. The same rules apply in Florence Alabama's Merrill Gardens. Other nursing homes such as Barrington Terrace of Naples or the Woodlands of Middletown in Ohio allow small pets only, meaning seniors with cats, small dogs, birds, or caged animals can bring their furry friends with them.
Not all assisted living facilities are welcoming of pets and each may have their own rules. It is important to check not only on size restrictions and types of pets allowed, but on breed restrictions as well. There are numerous breed restriction rules in many states around the country. Boxers, Mastiffs, German Shepherds, Huskies, Pit-Bulls, and Pit-Bull mixes are all restricted breeds in some areas. In some places, renters being banned from owning these dog breed. The same laws may apply to senior living communities. When seniors have these types of dogs, they may need to do a great deal of research on a facility first if they plan on bringing their pet along. Service animals may be exempt from these rules.
The best thing to do before visiting a pet-friendly assisted living facility is to call ahead. Explain the situation and see what types of accommodations they can make for the specific pet. It is important to remember that even some pet-friendly senior communities may not accommodate all animals due to safety concerns for other residents.
Even if seniors decide not to bring their own pets to one of these facilities, they will find that more and more nursing homes and assisted living communities are incorporating animals into their residents' lifestyles. Pet therapy programs and visiting pets have all been proven ways to boost the mood of residents. They can even help seniors fight depression and decrease their cholesterol levels! Seniors who are interested in animals but may not need a home for a pet of their own, may want to consider these types of communities.
From charming senior living communities like The Heritage at Northern Hills in Sioux City, Iowa to the sprawling Park Terrace Care Center in Corona, New York, more and more senior assisted living facilities are adopting a pet-friendly policies. The list of communities jumping on the trend is only growing. As more research into the positive benefits that pets can have on seniors continues to come out more and more assisted living facilities are becoming pet-friendly. Pets are a valuable way to help improve the lives and the care of senior residents.