Retiring with Your Pet
Every week or two my little dog and I go visit the residents of a
local long-term care facility. The elderly residents are delighted by
his visit; they pat him, sweet-talk him, hug him ... and in return,
my dog often puts his head down and begins snoring - something that never
fails to delight them.
There's no doubt about it: pets have a positive effect on people.
And now there's good news for older people with pets - if you're thinking
of moving into a retirement community, you may be able to find one that
will allow you to bring your four-legged friend with you.
Types of Retirement Communities
Independent living communities are the type of retirement
community most likely to allow pets. They are designed for healthy,
active older adults who are able to live without assistance, and are
thus able to care properly for their pets. You probably wouldn't be
able to notice a difference between an independent living community
and other residential communities except for the age of the residents.
Assisted living communities, on the other hand, are meant
for older adults who need regular help with daily activities - but
do not require the services of a nursing home.
Bringing Your Pet to Your Retirement Home
Some assisted living communities will allow residents to bring
their lifelong pets, while others may permit a "community pet":
a pet that doesn't belong to any person in particular, but that lives
within the community to provide companionship to all residents.
If you or a family member is looking for a retirement community that
will allow you to bring your pet friend with you, be sure to get a copy
of their pet policies. Some communities may require:
- An extra deposit to cover possible pet-related damages to the
- Pet care fees to cover anything that you cannot provide
for your pet. This can include walking your dog, cleaning kitty litter,
feeding or bathing your pet, and other such services.
- Only certain types of pets permitted. For example, some
communities will allow dogs or cats but will not permit reptiles.
- Your pet be under a certain size. Some communities may
only allow cats or small dogs below a certain weight or height.
- Pets to be socialized or screened. In communities where
there may be a number of resident pets, it is in everyone's best
interests that they all get along. Some communities may screen your
pet to determine that they are properly socialized (can get along with
other people and pets) and reasonably obedient.
It's not uncommon to see pets in retirement communities. And if you
spend some time with the residents, they're sure to tell you what a delight
it is to have a pet companion living with them. It's wonderful to see more
and more communities catering to the health and well-being of its
residents by permitting pets.
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