Pet friendly assisted living
Assisted living communities welcome seniors who retain a fairy good state of health, but need help with daily living activities, such as bathing, eating, or dressing. Assisted living centers offer adapted housing and dietary plans, as well as a wide range of services and amenities. For many seniors, however, one of the hardest things to do is to leave their beloved pets behind. Considering the benefits pets bring to their senior owners, more and more facilities have started to introduce a pet-friendly policy. We would love to help you find a pet-friendly assisted living because nothing can replace the joy of having your beloved companion by your side, making the aging process so much more pleasant.
Are pets allowed in assisted living facilities?
Each assisted living facility will decide whether pets are allowed or not. Prospective residents are encouraged to check out the acceptance guidelines. As you might see for yourself, some senior living communities have an open pet-friendly policy, welcoming seniors along their companions. Most assisted living facilities nowadays accept pets, recognizing the benefits they have to offer, both in terms of physical and mental health. Studies have shown that the presence of a pet can increase the overall life expectancy, with fewer chronic conditions in the process of aging.
Perhaps the most important thing to remember is that the pet-friendly policy might be contingent on seniors respecting the imposed regulations. These regulations are necessary to ensure that both the staff and other residents are safe. Assisted living communities do not accept animals that are undomesticated or exotic. For instance, most assisted living centers will refuse snakes or certain bird species. It is clear that dangerous pets will not be allowed, and there might be restrictions related to the dog breed or weight of the animal. Residents are expected to look after their own pets, as well as to name a designated pet owner, should they become unable to handle this responsibility. The pet will have to be vaccinated, with all the shots up to date.
In some cases, the assisted living community might decide to perform a pet assessment, in order to confirm that the senior is allowed to move into the respective center with the pet. ALF staff will determine whether the prospective resident can look after the pet or not, without assistance. They will establish that the pet will not threaten the safety of the other residents or staff, which means that it will not represent a potential danger. Naturally, this also refers to material damages. Restrictions might be imposed, as mentioned above. Some senior living facilities have a pet limit, either per residents or in general.
What to know before moving into assisted living with a cat
Most assisted living communities accept seniors who have cats as pets. You will have to do a bit of research to make sure that you have found the best option, preferably a senior living community that offers pet care and pet-friendly activities. It is recommended to inquire about the availability of specific services, such as grooming or feeding. Do not forget to ask about vet costs and how are these going to be integrated into the overall fees to be covered. You will also have to consider the behavior of your cat. Keep in mind that aggressive or loud cats might not be accepted, as there is always the risk of disturbing other residents. Should the cat cause trouble, you might be fined or even evicted.
What to know before moving into assisted living with a dog
Aside from cats, dogs are among the most popular pets welcomed into assisted living facilities. It is a good idea to check out the acceptance guidelines before committing to a particular assisted living community. For instance, many assisted living centers accept dogs, but not all breeds or sizes. The dog must be trained and not represent a danger for the other residents or staff. Aggressive dogs, as well as those that are excessively loud, will not be allowed. Should the dog continue to exhibit aggressive behaviors, you might be evicted from the respective facility. As you might expect, the senior in question must be able to walk the dog or at least cover the fees for dog-walking services, should they be available. Inquire about grooming and feeding, as well as general care and vet visits.
What are the benefits of pet ownership for seniors?
Pet ownership can help seniors maintain a better state of health in old age. Dog owners, for instance, are more physically active, as their furry friends require daily walks. At senior age, this is a great advantage, and one of the best methods to avoid a sedentary lifestyle, which would only add to the dangers of old age. Regular physical activity reduces the risk of obesity and diabetes, as well as cardiovascular disease. The good news is that physical fitness influences mental health as well, and lowers the chance of developing anxiety or depression.
The mere presence of a pet can make a genuine difference whereas one health is concerned. Numerous studies have confirmed that cats can actually decrease a person's blood pressure with their purring. Seniors who have a cat report lower stress levels, with a reduced chance of experiencing spikes in their blood pressure. Various pets, including dogs, can provide what is known as social support, helping seniors feel less lonely or depressed. They can make the transition into assisted living easier, with the senior in question adjusting faster to the new environment, thanks to their trusted companion.
Upon reaching senior age, many people struggle to retain a sense of purpose. A pet might give them just what they needed, meaning a reason to get up in the morning and care for someone else, besides themselves. Caring for a pet requires a routine that offers stimulation, physical activity, and interaction with others, thus helping seniors avoid solitude. A pet might need to be walked and played with, not to mention feeding and grooming, which are essential. Many seniors report looking forward to caring for their pet, as it gives them meaning, a sense of purpose to be more precise. Assisted living communities allow seniors to bring pets and go through the same routine, acknowledging the benefits to be derived.
It can be difficult to move into assisted living and interact with other residents, especially for seniors with a shy personality. However, as a pet owner, you might find easier to break through the ice and socialize with others. You might even form a strong friendship with another pet owner, enjoying yourself in the process. Pets are great to strike up a conversation or at least make others smile, thus brightening their day. It is also clear that pets are great companions. They are not just furry friends, but rather beloved family members, with seniors enjoying the companionship they provide, not to mention their unconditional love. This kind of support is great at senior age, with pets offering constant affection, which contributes to a recomforting feeling of safety. Not having to deal with loneliness can greatly improve the overall quality of life.
Pet ownership can be a blessing in disguise, helping seniors lessen the devastating effect of grief. As they focus on the daily routine, their mental health improves. Physical exercise is guaranteed through the daily walks, and they always have a companion to talk to. Without even realizing, a pet will make their day happier and more fun, eliminating the quiet that can make grief seem heavier. It also makes sense, as previously stated, that the presence of a pet will help one adjust faster to the assisted living facility. Pets offer the necessary support, their presence having so many benefits to offer.
As assisted living centers with memory care units accept seniors with dementia, the presence of a pet might be quite beneficial. It has been established that pets counteract the changes brought on by dementia, keeping seniors anchored in the daily life. Pets will also help dementia seniors interact with others, which is good for them in the long run. The staff will monitor the pets and their owners, to make sure they are looked after, fed and kept clean.
Do assisted living communities help seniors care for their pets?
The level of care available for pets varies from one assisted living facility to the other. Some senior living facilities provide a complete range of services, while others will call upon the designated family member, should the senior become unable to care for the pet or if additional care is necessary. Personalized pet care is usually offered at extra cost. Trained staff will get acquainted with the pet, establishing a care plan together with the other. The plan might regard the daily walks, grooming and feeding, as well as specific situations. For instance, some seniors might require assistance with walking their pets during bad weather. Others might need help with vet visits or medication management.
It might also be possible for the assisted living communities to outsource the pet care to third parties, such services being available for an extra fee. The services that might be covered include walking, grooming, feeding, and group pet activities. Of course, there are assisted living facilities that do not provide pet care for residents. This is the reason why you should always inquire about such matters before deciding on a particular assited living community.
Are all animals allowed in pet-friendly assisted living communities?
The answer is clearly no. As mentioned above, assisted living communities do not accept animals that are not domesticated. This will often include certain bird species, lizards, and snakes. When it comes to domestic animals, they will reject certain breeds, especially dog breeds known for their large size and aggressive behavior. Pets that are not trained, showing aggressiveness or often making loud noises, will not be accepted as well. The basic idea is that the pet should not represent a liability or bother the other residents or staff. At the same time, it should not threaten the safety of anyone living or working on the premises, or cause damages of any kind.
Is there a fee associated with keeping a pet in a pet-friendly assisted living center?
Yes, in most cases assisted living residents will have to cover an additional fee for keeping a pet as companion. However, this fee is usually affordable, considering the advantages pet ownership has to offer. As always, it is for the best to inquire about the costs to be covered, before agreeing to sign the residency contract. Check out different assisted living communities and compare the costs before taking a final decision. Be sure to take into account the additional costs for pet care, should this service be available. Consider emergencies and medications, calculating your budget accordingly. It is recommended to get a suitable pet insurance policy, as this will help you cover the costs of various treatments, especially when it comes to emergencies.
Caring for a pet in assisted living
It is a well-known fact that seniors are responsible for looking after their pets when living in an assisted living community. The assisted living staff will monitor them from up close, so as to make sure that the pets are well-fed and clean. They will also verify that pets are taken out for walks, as well as to the vet, with the vaccination protocol being followed. Annual visits to the vet are necessary to avoid chronic conditions and eliminate the need for more complicated treatments. A member of the staff might accompany the senior to the vet, should the trip be too complicated to be made alone. However, such companionship might typically be offered at an additional cost.
As you will see for yourself, assisted living communities often encourage seniors to maintain their independence for as long as possible. Naturally, this also involves pet care, which falls in the responsibility of the owner. Should the resident become unable to care for the pet or there are obvious issues whereas such matters are concerned, the staff will contact the designated member of the family to assume responsibility for the future pet care. In some assisted living facilities, seniors are supported by third parties, such as dog walkers or groomers. The most important thing is that the pet is happy and thriving, without turning into a burden.
What are some of the risks to be considered?
All experts agree that moving into a pet-friendly assisted living community has plenty of benefits to offer, but one must also consider the potential risks. First and foremost, pet ownership is expensive, especially in old age, when the spending budget is limited. A pet will require money for feeding and grooming, not to mention the obvious need for treatments and veterinary care in general. At some point, one might be forced to choose between the pet and other expenses that are more important.
Seniors might have to deal with declining health, thus having difficulties providing adequate care. This might also concern a loss of mobility, with the senior becoming unable to walk a dog, for instance. Considering that pets have clear needs that must be met, assisted living facilities often develop a follow-up plan for such situations. Usually, a member of the family or a friend will act as the designated caretaker, so that the senior can focus exclusively on his/her health.
Of course, there is also the risk of liability to be considered. Many pets are used to living in a home and have their own habits, so they might have a hard time adjusting to the new environment. Some might exhibit unwanted behaviors, including aggressive tendencies. Should they damage property, another pet, or person, the owner will have to bear the consequences. It is for the best to train the pet before moving into an assisted living community, as well as take a pet insurance policy, to help in case of such situations. Unfortunately, not everyone enjoys pets, so owning a pet might lead to conflicts. This is especially true in case of pets that are either loud or aggressive. Seniors who are unable to restrict their pets might face fines or eviction.
Particularities to consider
If you are planning on moving into assisted living, one which accepts pets as well, you will have to do a thorough research. Keep in mind that not all senior living communities accept pets, while some will only allow small dogs or cats. As you will see for yourself, you might be required to pay a deposit for your pet, which may or may not be refundable. Many assisted living facilities limit the number of pets one is allowed to have, so it might be a good idea to check this first and foremost. Exotic pets are almost never allowed, as they are not domesticated and might present a danger to safety. As the owner of a phyton, for instance, it might be close to impossible to find a spot within an assisted living facility.
The breed and temperament of the pet will weigh heavy whereas your acceptance is concerned. Even if your dog is not aggressive and has been trained, the breed will represent a decisive factor. Assisted living communities do not accept dogs such as pit bulls, as they fall under the "attack-type" breed category. The temperament of the dog matters quite a lot, with the respective facilities often bringing an expert to confirm it is safe for the respective pet to live on the premises. The minimum acceptance age for a pet is one and it is mandatory for the respective pet to be housebroken.
It is for the best to inquire about the policy regarding noise and behavior complaints. Pets who are excessively loud or demonstrated a destructive/aggressive behavior will not be accepted. Should discomforting situations occur, with an increased number of complaints or a failure to correct the respective behavior, the senior will be asked to remove the pet from the premises. In more severe cases, as already mentioned, eviction will be considered. Before moving into the facility, you will have to provide proof of vaccination, as well as name a designated pet caretaker. This person should be willing to look after the animal, not only during the recovery period but also on a long-term basis.
Questions to ask pet friendly assisted living
Most assisted living communities invite prospective residents to visit their campus and check out what they have to offer. During the tour, you will be accompanied by members of the staff, who will be ready to answer any questions you might have.
Here are some of the most important questions to consider asking with regard to pet acceptance:
Finding out the answer to these questions can bring you peace and also to help you find the best option for you and your pet. You might also ask the staff to offer additional information on the center's pet-friendly policy.
- Does the assisted living community accept pets? If yes, what are the acceptance guidelines?
- Are all pets accepted by the assisted living center? If not, what are some of the restrictions to be considered?
- Does the assisted living center have specific restrictions with regard to breed or size?
- How much does it cost to move into assisted living with a pet? Do I have to pay a fee each month or is there a one-time fee to be covered?
- How many pets is each senior allowed to have? Do you have a general limit for the entire community?
- Does the assisted living center offer pet care? If yes, what services do you have available and what at cost?
- What information do I need to provide for my pet (health history, vaccination schedule, shots, etc.)?
- In the event that I can no longer care for my pet, what happens? Do I have to designate a member of the family to look after the pet or do you handle such situations yourself?
Most assisted living communities allow for pets to live on the premises, provided the rules are followed to the letter. As you have seen, seniors are often allowed to bring domesticated animals, most commonly small dogs, cats, and birds. Assisted living residents have to pay a fee or make a deposit for the pet ownership and designated a caretaker, should they become unable to look after the pets themselves. The benefits of owning a pet are multiple, with a positive effect over the physical and mental health.
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