Pets are often just as integral to a family as their human members. They offer companionship, familiarity, and stability. They can make a house feel like a home. For seniors, pet ownership is linked to better cognitive function, more opportunities for exercise, lower blood pressure, and reduced loneliness and anxiety.
Sadly, more than 6 million animals enter animal shelters each year. For many pets, a change in their owner’s health triggers abandonment.
If your loved one is contemplating a move to senior living, or if their health necessitates a transition to assisted living or memory care, you may worry about what will happen to their beloved pet. Not only are there concerns about the animal’s future, but a sudden loss of a pet can also be devastating and traumatic to your loved one, undermining their mental health and perhaps even their physical well-being.
The best senior living communities know that a move shouldn’t mean saying goodbye to your furry family members, and they embrace animal lovers and their pets! Cedarhurst welcomes pets, providing opportunities for owners and the animals they love to socialize and do fun activities together.
The Benefits of Pets
A pet-friendly environment benefits an entire community. Not only does it benefit the life of the senior pet owner, but it also provides neighbors who love animals a chance to interact with animals without the burden of pet ownership.
Some seniors struggle to care for their pets as they age. The transition to the right senior living community can help by providing an environment that fosters independence and offers additional support. That way your loved one can continue being an exceptional pet owner.
Here’s why Fluffy or Fido may be so important in the day-to-day life of your senior loved one.
Physical Health Benefits
A pet may improve your loved one’s health in many ways:
- Increased activity: Pets encourage your loved one to stay active, both physically and socially. Physical activity can prolong your loved one’s life and improve their health. Seniors who stay socially engaged are less vulnerable to depression and other medical conditions.
- Better heart health: Pet ownership may improve heart health by lowering blood pressure, triglycerides, and cholesterol.
- Decreased loneliness: Pets provide unconditional love and may ease feelings of loneliness. Research suggests that loneliness may be as harmful to health as smoking.
- Lower stress: Pet ownership may lower stress, which is linked to a wide range of chronic health issues.
Socialization and Mental Health Benefits
Mental and physical health are inextricably linked, and good mental health can improve your loved one’s quality of life. Some psychological benefits of pet ownership include:
- Improved mood: Watching a puppy’s antics or stroking a beloved cat may help a person feel less anxious and happier.
- A sense of friendship and connection: Pets often understand their owner’s needs and emotions. Some pets may even provide additional support as therapy or service animals.
- More social engagement: Pet lovers often relish the chance to get to know one another’s pets, sharing tales of their pets’ antics. People with pets are roughly 60 percent more likely to get to know neighbors around them. Especially when your loved one transitions to a senior living community, a pet can be an adorable icebreaker.
The Cedarhurst Approach to Pets and Those Who Love Them
Though many senior living communities allow pets, some are merely tolerant. Your loved one might be required to keep their pet in their apartment or find their pet excluded from community life.
Cedarhurst is different from other senior living communities. We welcome pets with snuggles and treats because we know that if your loved one’s pet feels comfortable, they’ll feel comfortable, too.
A human-animal bond is a powerful tool for healing and connection. At Cedarhurst, we believe in the power of connecting with residents by embracing their pets. Our person-centered model of care extends to the furry family members our residents love.
Depending on the specific location, our communities boast safe, pet-friendly walking trails and dog parks for pets and the people who love them to enjoy. Our outdoor spaces are popular meeting places for pet lovers to spend time with one another and their four-legged pals. This helps your loved one stay active while ensuring their pet gets the socialization they need. Team members may even bring treats to visit residents who have pets, and many pets view our team as part of their extended human family.
Your loved one’s pet matters at Cedarhurst, because your loved one matters.
How to Choose a Pet-Friendly Senior Living Community
Choosing a senior living community that supports your loved one to thrive is incredibly important. The right senior living community helps you with caregiver burnout, empowers your loved one to live their best life, and ensures that beloved pets get the best possible care.
As you call and tour senior living communities, consider asking a few questions to better understand their approach to pets:
- Does your community allow pets? Are residents limited to certain types of pets?
- Are any specific pets, such as large pets or pets of a certain breed, banned?
- Does my loved one’s pet have to pass a temperament test or fulfill any specific criteria to live in the community?
- How does your community handle conflicts over pets or issues between pets?
- Does your community offer support to care for pets?
- Does your community include pets in community events, or offer amenities or events for pets and their owners?
- Is there any circumstance in which my parent would need to give up their pet? Can they keep their pet in all levels of care?
- Is there an extra fee for bringing pets, or a pet deposit?
- In which areas of the community are pets permitted?
- Is there a pet contract? Can I see it?
- Are therapy or service animals excluded from certain community pet rules? (For instance, disability laws generally require communities to allow service animals in spaces where pets are not allowed.)
- Is there a safe, designated pet area such as a dog park?
- What vaccinations or medical documentation must my loved one provide?
- If my loved one can no longer care for their pet, does the community help?
Experience the Cedarhurst Difference
The move to senior living should be exciting, presenting new opportunities and deeper connections. It should never mean having to give up a family member—even a furry one. Cedarhurst embraces pet owners and their animal companions, building a nurturing community where dogs, cats, and other four-legged friends are integral to social life.
Learn more about what makes our communities special by downloading our free guide, What Makes Cedarhurst Different from Other Senior Living Communities?
Not sure if it’s time for a move? Take our quiz, “Is it the right time for senior living?”