If you’re like many seniors, you have a pet you love. Studies show that people with pets live longer, healthier lives—and that’s particularly true for seniors. If you’re contemplating a move to a senior retirement community, it’ll be important to tell whether or not it provides a welcoming and safe place for your pet—as well as yourself. Here are a few questions to ask when evaluating a location’s pet-friendliness.
Are pets allowed?
If pets aren’t allowed at all, then obviously the place isn’t a good location for you and your pet. Sometimes individual organizations might be willing to bend the rules for a small dog or cat—and this can be negotiated on a case-by-case basis. But the fact that pets are not allowed in the first place could be a bad sign for the facility’s overall pet-friendliness.
What kind of pets are allowed?
It’s not easy finding a senior living community that works for you. And it can be harder if you have to accommodate a pet as well as yourself. But with the benefits pets bring to active, healthy seniors, the payoff can be worth it.
What on-ground facilities are there for pet-owners?
Is there a dog park in the area? Is there a veterinary clinic nearby? Can you get your pet groomed on-site? Find out what amenities and provisions there are in the senior community for pet owners. If there are many, this is definitely likely to be a welcoming place for pets.
Are there restrictions on where I can walk my dog?
No matter how pet-friendly a retirement community is, they will doubtless require you to clean up after your dog—that’s a given. But there may be restrictions on where you can walk your dog as well. Be sure to check on that—if they’re very restrictive, it may be more difficult to own a pet here.
Are there pet-related services available?
Different types of senior living communities provide different levels of care. In addition to light around-the-house assistance and basic yardwork, some independent living facilities might offer pet-sitting or dog-walking services. Check with the community you’re considering to see if they offer these options to residents.
Is there a fee to own a pet?
Some retirement facilities charge a deposit to protect against pet-related damages—and sometimes the fee is nonrefundable. If that’s the case, it shows that the facility wants to set a deterrent to people bringing pets in—and demonstrates that the organization is not very pet-friendly.
Are there other pet owners living there?
When you walk around the facility, do you see other pet owners walking their dogs? Do you see cats lounging in the windows? If you see a pet owner, start a conversation with them about their experience owning a pet in the community. This may be the only way you’ll get a real, objective opinion on how accommodating the senior community is to seniors with pets.
It’s not easy finding a senior living community that works for you. And it can be harder if you have to accommodate a pet as well as yourself. But with the benefits pets bring to active, healthy seniors, the payoff can be worth it. Take a close look at your senior community’s rules and restrictions regarding pets, and talk to some current residents about their experience if you can. If you do, you’re likely to get a more complete picture of how pet-friendly the community really is.