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 care facility, bringing their pet with them can help ease the transition.
There are many cats working as therapy animals in senior living facilities. Alzheimer’s patients can benefit dramatically when they have pets around. The pets can get them back into regular daily life and give them a chance to socialize.
Although there are many benefits to pet-friendly senior living facilities, there are some repercussions too. Often, the residents aren’t mobile and may not be able to care for their pet. The pets are often older too and require more care. The pet care often falls to the center staff, which may take time away from patient care, or require the facility to hire more staff to adequately cover the needs of patients and pets.
Another consideration is cost of having a pet. Senior care centers can be quite expensive, and pet care costs average $600 a year. If the resident is on a limited income, pet care costs can add financial burden.
Even though we love pets, not everyone feels the same way. There may be center residents that don’t like pets or may be allergic to them. If this happens, the facility has to determine how to satisfy the needs of both pet owner and those with pet concerns.
Often, residents don’t have family or friends that can take the pet in the event the owner 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.
As this trend of pet-friendly senior facilities grows, center administrators need to consider the impacts before welcoming pets so the experience is positive for all concerned.