Guest Post by Staff Writers,Caring.com
Pet ownership can bring plenty of unexpected benefits to seniors. For starters, research shows that older adults who own a dog walk an average of 22 minutes a day more than seniors who don’t have a dog, and pets are even used in therapy techniques to help seniors with mental illness or dementia. While the benefits to pet ownership for older adults are numerous, there are also unique challenges when bringing your pet to an assisted living community, including some communities’ lack of space and restrictive pet policies.
Benefits and Risks of a Pet in an Assisted Living Facility
The benefits of owning a pet for older adults are undeniable. However, when bringing a pet into an assisted living facility, there are also some risks that should be carefully considered.
There are three main ways pets can have a positive impact on the lives of older adults. First, owning a pet helps seniors be more active. A 2017 study concluded that older adults living in a community setting (such as assisted living) who own a dog walked an additional 22 minutes per day more than their counterparts. Another positive impact is an increased sense of purpose. Seniors report that knowing their pets depend on them gives them a reason to get up in the morning. Finally, pets provide companionship, which helps seniors feel less alone – especially those who’ve lost a spouse or other close friends or relatives.
Choosing a Pet-Friendly Assisted Living Community
When searching for an assisted living community, finding out about its pet policy can be an afterthought. However, many seniors may view getting rid of a pet as a deal breaker, and rightly so? pets not only offer companionship but can also become like family members. That?s why it?s critical for seniors who are attached to their animal companions to seek out assisted living communities that allow them to bring their pet(s).
Pet Policies and Common Restrictions
Not all assisted living communities allow residents to own pets, and those that do often have restrictions in place. The good news is that seniors who have one or two small dogs or cats can typically find an assisted living community that will allow them to enjoy the benefits provided by animal companionship.
Here are some of the common rules assisted living communities due impose regarding pet ownership:
· Extra Deposit: Seniors who bring pets may have to pay an additional, refundable deposit. Limited Number: Communities often limit the number of pets that residents may bring or adopt. A common limit is 1-2 pets.
· Non-Exotic Pets: Exotic pets are typically considered animals that aren’t usually domesticated. An example would be a wolf or a python.
· Breed & Temperament: Many communities disallow dog breeds such as pit bulls. This can take the form of specific prohibitions or more general guidelines such as “no ‘attack-type’ breeds.” An animal also needs to have a temperament that allows staff to enter the residence.
· Age & Training Requirement: Dogs are often required to be at least one year of age and be housebroken.
· Noise & Behavior Complaints: Many communities have rules regarding noise complaints or destructive behavior. If a certain number of complaints are received and the behavior doesn’t improve, the pet may have to leave.
· Vaccinations: It’s often required for residents to provide proof of vaccinations before bringing a pet to live in the facility.· Designated Pet Caretaker: Some communities require residents to designate a person living in the area who is willing to take care of the animal in case a resident isn’t able to, such as if he or she is recovering from a surgery or experiences a sudden decline in health.
Caring .com guide “Assisted Living For Seniors With Pets” features additional topics on “Consider before bringing pets to live in Assisted Living Community”, “State by State Resources for Seniors with Pets”, and “What to consider before adopting a pet to live an Assisted Living Community”. Click here to read the entire guide Assisted Living Seniors With Pets