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More Assisted Living Communities Are Adopting Pet-Friendly Policies

Health & Medical Blog

Going into assisted living doesn't necessarily mean you have to give up your beloved pet. More senior care communities are recognizing the benefits of adopting pet-friendly polices, particularly when it comes to helping elderly residents live happier, healthier, and longer lives.

When you are evaluating assisted living communities, if the pet policy isn't clear, don't be afraid to ask. It's a critical question when you're looking for a new home for yourself and your pet both.

Good for Your Physical Health

Besides making you feel happy, taking your pet with you to assisted living has multiple benefits for your health. Pet ownership has been associated with a lower incidence of minor health problems, reduced blood pressure, and increased endorphin levels, according to a review published in the American Journal in Critical Care.

Endorphins boost the immune system, make you feel more energetic, and help relieve pain by blocking pain signals to the brain. Even when endorphins don't come into play, interacting with your pet can distract you from pain.

The need to walk your pet keeps you physically active and gets you outdoors. Exercise lowers cholesterol by helping you maintain a healthy weight, relieves stress and anxiety, and helps lower the risk for depression -- common among elderly adults.

Walking as a physical activity is good for your heart. Since walking your dog gets you the exercise you need to reduce your risk for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes, your pet is a valuable friend who contributes to your cardiovascular health.

Good for Your Emotional Health

Besides improving your psychological well being, bringing your pet with you can help make your transition to assisted living easier. Pets are like members of the family, so you feel less lonely and isolated. Since many people are attracted to animals, your pet can act as an ice breaker in helping you make new friends. Overall, having your pet with you can make the assisted living community feel more like home.

Your pet will provide you with constant companionship, offer you familiarity, and keep you connected to life. Your dog or cat has the ability to improve your mood by soothing you when you're anxious, giving you someone to talk to when you're alone, and making you feel useful.

If you are recovering from surgery or illness and undergoing physical rehabilitation, your pet can help you heal. Research shows that stroking your pet releases several feel-good hormones, and a healthier mood works wonders at boosting your motivation. If that isn't enough, consider the meaning your pet gives to your life.

Pet Policy

When checking out an assisted living community, find out what its policy is on pets. Although an assisted living community, like Stonehill Care Center, may allow dogs and cats, it may have restrictions on a pet's size. You may also have to pay a nonrefundable pet deposit.

Typical pet policies generally state:

  • You must be able to physically care for your pet. If a disability or health condition prevents you from caring for your pet yourself, some assisted living facilities provide pet care for an additional fee.

    Older pets make better companions for older adults, as they usually need less attention and care. Pets older than 7 years of age tend to have calmer and gentler dispositions. They also share something in common with their owners. Both have less energy than their younger counterparts.

  • Your pet must be house trained, clean, and groomed.

  • Your pet must be healthy. Pet policies normally require that you have your pet checked over thoroughly by your veterinarian before making the move to assisted living. The facility may ask for copies of your pet's health records and proof of up-to-date vaccinations to keep on file.

  • Your pet must have a current license. Counties require pet owners to purchase dog licenses. Licensing requirements and fees vary depending on where you live.

  • Your pet must be friendly and have a calm temperament. A pet that fits well into an assisted living environment is able to get along with the other residents.


21 January 2015