Are Pets Part of Your Senior Care Experience?

pets-and-senior-care

Anyone who’s held a purring cat on their lap, absentmindedly stroking its fur, or cuddled next to a friendly furry dog, rubbing behind its ears to receive tail wags as a reward, knows that pets are therapeutic. The love we have for our four-legged friends is second only to the love most seniors feel for their grandchildren. And let’s face it, well-trained pets are a lot less work (even if you get to send the grandbabies home).

Many people may not know that, when you enter a senior living community, pets and pet therapy can still be a part of your life. Some independent living communities and assisted living housing permit pets. Some only allow pets under 20 lbs., which limits residents to small dogs and cats, while others allow most dogs. Still others have pet therapy animals on site, ranging from small horses to exotic animals like chinchillas. Residents help care for the animals, giving the residents responsibilities and a sense of pride.

Choosing a Senior Care Home If You Have a Pet
Check regulations carefully before you choose senior care for yourself or a loved one if you have a furry companion. Not only must pets be permitted in the community, you’ll want to find out the rules. Trained dogs only? Is there a weight requirement? Are specific breeds not permitted? Is there a limit to how many animals you can have?

Also, find out how suitable the community will be for certain pets. Will dogs have a place to walk on leashes? Is there transportation available to a vet nearby if your pet needs medical care?

Caring For Your Pet If You Can’t
If a senior has to make the transition from independent living to assisted living, are pet care services available? Caring for pets is a responsibility that can empower seniors, but when they can’t care for themselves, the burden of a pet may be too much. Staff should be available to feed, water and walk dogs, feed and water cats and keep the litter box clean, as well as making sure all animals receive the vaccinations and veterinary care they need.

The Social Aspects of Pet Ownership
Scientific studies show that interacting with pets releases the feel-good hormone serotonin and reduces cortisol levels (the stress hormone.) It can reduce heart rate, blood pressure and stress in as little as 15 minutes. Long-term benefits may include lowering cholesterol, and reducing the risk of heart disease, stroke and depression. But that’s not all.

Owning a pet in a senior community can be a bridge to a more fulfilling social life within the community. Not only is walking a dog great for cardiovascular health, but dog owners know that other walkers often want to stop, admire, and pet their dog. Friendships can be formed very quickly over the bond of animals.

When a senior brings a pet into an assisted living community or Continuing Care Retirement Community, it doesn’t just benefit that resident. It can benefit everyone else who encounters the pet, as well.

SeniorLiving.Net is a free service for families to use that are looking for senior care or senior living for a loved one. Call (866) 342-4297 to speak to your local Care Advisor about senior care providers in your local area.