Special thanks to Holly Klamer for writing this post.
Is it Safe to Have Dogs in an Assisted Living Facility?
Around the globe, people enjoy the companionship, love, and warmth of being in the company of their pet dogs. These furry little creatures give you unconditional love, which impacts your life, including mental, physical, and spiritual well-being.
Pets also alleviate our sense of loneliness which is more prevalent during old age. That’s part of why an increasing number of senior living communities are allowing pets for the residents.
But, it’s normal to wonder whether or not having a pet in such a facility is safe. Well, that depends on a lot of factors. For one thing, you need to think about the dog breed and your ability to feed/care for them. Other than that, the design and services of a facility also matter.
You should also look into the pet policies of the community before getting a pet. In this post, we delve deep into the subject. We look at the myriad benefits of having a pet around as well as programs that many assisted living centers may have regarding pets.
Benefits of Having Dogs in Assisted Living Facilities
Just the act of touching and playing with your furry little friend is enough to induce a sense of calmness. You feel less stressed and anxious, something which is common during old age. Ideally, you should pick from dog breeds for families as they are naturally more loving and gentle and not aggressive.
Encourages Social Interaction
Some seniors can be reserved and face difficulty initiating conversation. Having a pet around and taking them out for a walk can be a huge ice breaker. When you meet other pet owners during evening walks, you get something to talk about. In this way, dogs foster social interaction. They can make you feel less anxious and more comfortable in a social setting.
Moving to an assisted living facility can be rather overwhelming. The transition period is often challenging. But, having a dog around makes that period a lot easier. What makes a move most difficult is a sense of alienation as everything is new around you.
At such a time, being with your dog gives you a sense of familiarity. You don’t feel completely out of place. That warmth and love are still there for you. That’s one way dogs come in incredibly handy in easing this often difficult phase for you.
Better Physical Health
With a dog, you have no other option but to take them out for a walk every single day.
Because of that, physical movement and exercise become a big part of your routine. Even going out for a short walk outside could get you enough exercise you need to remain physically fit, active, and healthy.
In the end, all of that movement will do you good by keeping you more energetic, lively, and young. Your health rate and blood pressure will normalize, leading to better cardiovascular functioning.
Helps with Mental Health
Having a pet animal around is excellent, particularly for Dementia and Alzheimer’s patients. By encouraging movement, they improve your physical health and immunity.
You also enjoy better cognitive stimulation, which keeps memory issues at bay for longer periods of time. Not only is it comforting to have a dog around, but understanding their non-verbal cues and communications becomes like an exercise for your brain health.
Common Dog Related Services Offered by Assisted Living Facilities
Pet Companionship Sans Responsibilities
A growing number of living communities understand the benefits and the value of having a pet around for seniors to play with.
That’s why many are adapting ‘community pet’ and ‘pet therapy programs’ wherein the residents don’t have to worry about feeding, grooming, or exercising their pets. Instead, they can spend time with community pets.
As part of pet therapy programs, they may get access to well-trained dogs, which can help them by providing companionship.
Pet Coordinators Ensure Everyday Well Being
For many seniors, a pet is more than just an animal. They are like a family to them and, as such, need the same care and attention as a family member. Communities that understand this may offer the services of a coordinator. The idea is to allow both the owner and their pets the level of care they need.
As part of this program, a coordinator will look after things like getting the pet exercise, taking care of their vet appointment, administering medication, ensuring regular vaccinations, etc. this takes away a lot of burden off the seniors’ shoulders.
Having a pet around, no matter your age can be a life-changing experience. People who have had pets would vouch for the multitude of benefits they derive.
Therefore, it’s no surprise that a growing number of senior living facilities are also embracing and encouraging the concept of having a pet around for seniors to enjoy.
Holly Klamer is a pet lover who owns a dog and loves to write about everything related to pets. She is a frequent writer and contributor to top online pet publications and blogs, including Pet-Friendly Senior Living.
I think pets are always a great addition to anyone’s life. That’s especially true of the elderly living in assisted living facitilites. Usually, adults in these facilities don’t get visited as often as family would like to, and having a pet can help keep them from feeling lonely.
Pam Wattenbarger says
My Mother-in-law just moved into an assisted living facility. They allow a small dog or a cat to move in too if the resident had it prior to moving it. I think it’s great.
Tara Pittman says
I think that dogs would be so beneficial to older people. My father in law would love petting a dog.
Sarah Bailey says
I think it is such a good idea to have a dog in a situation like this I think it can really help people having a pet around. My partners childhood dog became a dog that visited homes in his later years.
Richelle Escat says
I don’t have a dog yet. But this article is so convincing.
I am totally for this idea! I think this is such a wonderful thing, and I wish more assisted living and other facilities incorporated animals in their therapies.
Pets are a good part of community and has immense benefits just like these . Especially for seniors
MELANIE EDJOURIAN says
I think it’s great to have pets in assisted living facilities. It really helps with mental health.
cathy armato says
I love the idea of senior facilities having a community pet or allowing residents to bring along their pet. Imagine how heartbreaking it must be for a senior to have to lose their pet and move to an unfamiliar place all alone at the same time. Icy and I are a therapy dog team and we have visited senior facilities. It can really raise their spirits and make them smile! We visited Alzheimer’s patients and I was amazing at how normally non-communicative patients recall how to interact with a dog and sometimes remember their childhood dogs – to the amazement of staff and family members! Excellent post, Beth.
Love & Biscuits,
Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them
Michelle & The Paw Pack says
I love that it’s becoming more common for these types of facilities to allow pets. As a life long animal lover, I can’t imagine being denied the ability to share my senior years with a beloved pet.
Marjorie Dawson says
This is a lovely idea. The number of stories I hear about cats being prohibited from going with their owners into care is a nightmare and the cats often die as a result of being dumped by heartless ‘family’. It’s too much like hard work to care for people and the companionship cats and dogs bring. Assisted living facilities are not the best places if you love animals.
Ruth Epstein says
I think it is fantastic if senior facilities allow pets as they keep us healthy and therefore really important. I could not see my life without a dog as Layla keeps me balanced mentally plus gets me out of the house. Great post which really makes you think about this topic.
Ivan M. Jose says
I do agree that it will be great to have dogs in those facilities. The benefits will be overwhelming.
I love how dogs provide a great cheer in any household or community/facility, and to anyone regardless of age, living condition or status.
Britt K says
I love everything about this! There are so many dogs out there that could benefit from this arrangement, enjoying the love and affection that they would receive from those in assisted living facilities. At the same time, as you outlined, there are so many benefits for the residents. It’s a win/win situation across the board for everyone involved.
Kamira Gayle says
I love this. I know from experience with an aging parent having a pet is great for helping them transition to a new space as well as the benefits to their mental health and morale. Having a pet is having a companion and friend. They give us so much in return. We don’t deserve them. I think as long as the pets are properly cared for in return, it’s a positive thing.