As our parents and loved ones get older, they begin to rely on the assistance and emotional support of their caretakers — as well as the continued love and support of their pet companions.
Naturally, when seniors move into assisted living, they will insist their pets will move with them.
Thankfully, there are more pet friendly assisted living communities than ever that can accommodate seniors moving in with their pets.
In this helpful guide, we’ll go over the considerations you should be aware of before moving into assisted living with a pet, including specifics on breed sizes and limitations, and tips for a smooth transition.
Do Pet-Friendly Assisted Living Communities Provide Pet Care Assistance to Residents?
While many senior living communities are becoming more pet-friendly, you’ll still need to dig around to learn about the specific pet amenities available at each location.
For instance, some communities may be able to provide additional care for animals, such as grooming, walking, and feeding, if their owners are sick, or if they just need an extra helping hand.
These pet services might be available at an extra cost, or may be included as part of the amenities included with the rental fees.
Additionally, some assisted living communities may coordinate with outside vendors who can arrange for specified pet care outside of the community.
What to Consider Before Bringing a Pet into Senior Living
Many pet friendly assisted living communities will accept cats and dogs, however, you’ll need to check their weight and breed limits before making the move.
Certain breeds, such as German Shepherds, Bullmastiffs, or Great Danes, are generally not accepted due to their large size. While other dogs, such as Pit bulls or Dobermanns, can be perceived as aggressive, and are also generally not accepted in these communities. Many exotic pets, such as birds and snakes, are also prohibited.
Every community’s rules regarding pet ownership are different, so make sure to contact the community to learn more about their pet policy regarding the specific rules regarding pet ownership.
Besides breed and size limits, you’ll also need to consider the needs of your loved one’s pet while they’re in their new home. Consider the following:
- Will their pet be happy in their new environment?
- Is your loved one’s apartment or shared suite large enough to accommodate their activity?
- Does the campus have parks and trails for dogs to get daily exercise?
- Is the pet older and does it need additional assistance?
- Who will take care of the dog or cat if your loved one’s health declines and they are no longer able to take care of it?
- Is there an additional pet fee? How much is it?
- Is there a limit to how many pets a resident can have?
It’s important to know that pets should be properly trained and reasonably well-behaved. Some communities may require they meet the pet before accepting them to make sure they don’t create a nuisance for the other residents.
If your loved one’s pet is under a year old, or doesn’t get along with strangers well, you’ll need to consider training them, or holding onto the pet until they are old enough to be admitted into the community.
The easiest thing you can do is just call up the senior living community and find out their specific pet requirements.
Pet Therapy in Senior Living — Benefits Without the Responsibilities
Pet therapy is a popular animal-assisted therapy found through many assisted living communities.
Many senior living homes may have their own resident therapy cat or dog who lives in the building and routinely interacts with its human neighbors.
This gives every resident the opportunity to interact with a pet and receive their healing benefits without the responsibility of taking care of it.
Physical and Psychological Benefits for Seniors with Pets
Anyone who’s ever had a pet knows they bring joy, love, and a sense of purpose to our lives. They can teach us how to love and often challenge their owners to get out of their comfort zone and become more physically active.
Additionally, pets can have a calming effect that improves levels of anxiety and reduces blood pressure, all of which improve the health of their owner.
Psychologically, small animal breeds are excellent companions for elderly seniors who may be facing isolation or loneliness, which can be the hardest part of growing older.
Snuggling with a pet or showing them affection increases levels of serotonin and oxytocin, a love chemical that can create feelings of love and attachment for both the pet and owner.
Tips for Seniors and Their Pets for Transitioning into their New Community
Start by contacting your loved one’s new senior living community and getting information on the necessary vaccinations and shots required before moving in.
Then contact the pet’s veterinarian who can administer all the shots and prepare the paperwork necessary to show proof of vaccination.
Next, consider taking a tour of the pet-friendly assisted living community to see how the pet responds to the environment. Be sure to ask about available pet amenities and scope out the grounds to see where your pet will be taking its walks.
During the big move, consider having a friend or caregiver watch your loved one’s pet so they don’t interfere with the loading process, or get too stressed out by the extra activity in your home.
If your pet is anxious during car rides, you may want to acclimate them slowly by taking them for short trips in advance before the big move.
Once moved in, provide treats and old toys to bring a sense of comfort and familiarity into the new space.
One last tip — just love the pet. Give them extra love and patience while they’re adjusting to their new home, and they’ll likely help your loved one adjust too.
The Kensington Redondo Beach Living Community — A Place For Your Loved One and Their Beloved Pet
Our community also specializes in memory care support for residents with Alzheimer’s and dementia, and includes two distinct memory care neighborhoods, Connections and Haven. Each one provides support for those with beginning stages of memory loss to more advanced stages.
Contact us to learn more about our pet policy or to schedule a virtual tour.
At The Kensington, we Promise to love and take care of your loved one as we would our own.