Statistics show that up to 40% of families shopping for senior care living facilities look for one that will welcome pets. Numerous studies have shown the physical and psychological benefits for seniors that have regular interaction with pets. If seniors own a pet before moving into a senior living facility, bringing their pet with them can help ease the transition.
Although there are many benefits, if you or an older pet guardian you know is considering moving into a senior living facility with a pet, here are some points to keep in mind:
- Pet guardian’s mobility. Are you mobile enough to adequately care for your pet? Maintaining the litter box for a cat, walking a dog, driving the pet to grooming and vet appointments are important duties for pets.
- The pet’s temperament. Senior living facilities are often close together, so if there’s a dog barking loudly and often, it might disturb others living around you. Evaluate your pet’s personality objectively to decide if living in a senior facility will be a good fit for him.
- Number and size of pets. If you have a facility in mind to move into, inquire about their pet policy. If they allow pets, is there a limit on the number of pets allowed, and is there a size/weight limit? If you have more than the allowable number of pets, determine what course to take for the pets left behind.
- Are there a limited number of units that allow pets? Many facilities have a limited number of units designated for those residents with pets. If the available units are all in use, you may have a longer wait to move into the facility with your pet.Often, the residents aren’t mobile and may not be able to care for their pet.
- The budget. Moving into a senior living facility can be costly. Often, a senior resident’s pet is older, too and may require more frequent vet visits and medications to stay healthy. Also, depending on your mobility, it may be necessary to hire a dog walker or pet sitter to help care for your pet. Consider these expenses to be sure the budget is in place to support your pet’s ongoing needs.
- Is there a plan for care of the pet if the guardian’s health worsens? Often, residents don’t have family or friends that can take the pet in the event the owner must move to full-time care and not be able to take their pet, or passes away. If the owner didn’t make arrangements prior to their passing, it may fall to the senior center to find a home for the pet left behind. Document a specific plan that spells out who will be responsible for your pet in the event you can no longer care for him.
As this trend of pet-friendly senior facilities grows and more residents move with their pets, it’s important to consider all aspects of the move and do some advanced planning to make it a stress free experience for pets and their people.