As you go through life’s stages of career building, parenthood, empty nesting and retirement planning, one constant for more than half the population is having pets. Whether it started as a puppy in your childhood or a kitten for your kids, it is normal to become attached to having the companionship of an animal. For many, the furred, feathered, or finned pets become family members, included in everyday activities and plans for the future. If you are a dedicated pet parent exploring senior living options, be sure to ask about the pet policies of the communities under consideration.
If you cannot imagine living without your pet, it is important to know the pet policy at any senior living community you are considering. Some have a policy against all pets, while others allow very limited options. For pet parents wanting to take their fur babies with them on their senior living adventure, look for a community that allows a variety of animals with reasonable regulations.
By finding a community with a variety of pet options, you will have maximum flexibility in your future. Let’s say your current pet is a cat or dog and you have started to notice how they like being close when you are walking around, creating a potential trip hazard. A senior living community with a flexible pet policy means that you have an option to choose a different kind of pet companion in the future – perhaps a chatty cockatoo or graceful gourami.
If you are without a pet at the time of choosing your senior living community but know you strongly desire one once you are settled in, be sure that new pets are allowed. Remember that pets come with considerations like community fees, the cost of care and overall fit between you and pet companion.
Pet ownership impacts more than your budget, often being cited as having benefits in health studies of seniors. A recent poll showed that 55 percent of adults ages 50 to 80 have a pet and more than three-quarters say their animals reduce their stress.
A Central Michigan University study showed that older adults who owned a pet were in overall better health. Older adults who owned a pet had less arthritis, healthier weights and decreased occurrences of congestive heart failure. The results for increased activity were better for dog owners, citing the need for walks and more vigorous activities than most other pets.
If you are used to a wagging tail greeting you at the door, you are already aware of the emotional benefits associated with pets. The routine of cleaning a birdcage or feeding fish helps get people up and moving around the house, giving a sense of accomplishment. A purring cat can bolster feel-good brain chemicals, bringing a sense of love and peace. Along with the positives of pet companionship, a poor match between pet and pet parent on mobility, personality and upkeep may diminish overall benefits.
Though pets can bring us joy, reduce stress and increase activity, a poor match between pet and owner can have an opposite effect. The energetic Jack Russell terrier that tussled with the teenagers in your family may not be the ideal canine companion in later years.
For dog people, mobility and energy levels need to be a good match for the exercise and outdoor time needed by their canine companions. Cat people have considerations of personality and energy levels when matching with their feline friends. A docile Ragdoll cat will be happier as a lap kitty than a bounce-off-the-walls Savannah cat.
Depending on the type and temperament of your pet, some senior living options will be more attractive than others. Look for communities with good walking trails and access to greenspaces. Even cats and birds are getting out more with enclosed pet strollers and windowed backpacks! If your pet is strictly the indoors type, be sure their behavior is welcome before committing to a new living space. You may be used to your parrot’s chatter midmorning, but other apartment dwellers may be planning for a quiet brunch.
There is no doubt that animal lovers enjoy the companionship of their pets. It is a personal choice to continue having pets while thriving in your senior years. Be sure that the community you choose has a pet policy that fits your current and future needs.
Starting new may also mean bringing a new kind of furred, feathered or finned family member into your senior living lifestyle. Invest time and thought into compatibility and needs for both of you, assuring maximum benefits and minimal stress. Enjoy your days indoors or outdoors, loving and being loved by your special pet companion!
If you are interested in a senior living community with a welcoming pet policy, consider Advent Christian Village in North Florida. With multiple walking trails and access to the Suwannee River for fishing and kayaking, ACV offers an abundance of access to nature both you and your outdoor pet will enjoy. Taking an in-person look at the senior living options and amenities is easy – schedule a tour of by calling 1.800.647.3353.