Retiring with Your Pet - Are Pets Allowed in Retirement Communities?
Pets have a positive effect on people's health. Study after study have
shown that pets can help improve blood pressure, decrease stress, ease
pain, encourage exercise / activity, and even helps to break the ice
when talking to new people. In short, pets make us feel better! But what
happens when you're thinking of moving into a retirement community, whether
it's an assisted-living community or a long-term care facility? Can your
pet join you? In some cases, retiring with your pet
is a possibility.
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Types of Retirement Communities
- Independent living communities is any
type of housing that's geared towards seniors. They are designed for healthy,
active older adults who are able to live with minor assistance, and often
take care outdoor maintenance of things like gardens and walkways. This is
the type of retirement community most likely to allow pets as residents
are expected to be capable of caring properly for their own pets. Types
of housing are typically condominium or apartment complexes, townhouse
communities, sometimes even detached single family homes. You probably
wouldn't 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 round-the-clock assistance or
monitoring, or the extended services of a nursing home. Residents might
require help with medication, cooking or chores.
- A long-term care facility (nursing home)
provides both help with day-to-day activities as well as significant medical
care. Residents live communally in their own rooms (or in shared rooms),
with a common eating area, communal lounges, shared activities, etc.
Bringing Your Pet to Your Retirement Home
Some retirement communities will allow residents to bring their pets
with them. 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. And in other
communities, resident pets aren't allowed but they may have a
pet assisted therapy program
in place that brings pets in to visit with the 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 talk to
the resident manager to see if it is even a possibility. Some communities
- An assessment of your pet to see if
it will fit into the community and with the residents.
- A trial period to assess how well
your pet is adjusting to the community, and how well the community
and residents are adjusting to your pet.
- An extra deposit to cover possible
pet-related damages to the facilities.
- 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. Generally speaking, many communities will expect that
you will be able to care for your pet on your own, or with only
- Only certain types of pets permitted.
For example, some communities will allow dogs or cats but will not
- Your pet be under a certain size.
Some communities may only allow cats or small dogs below a certain
weight or height.
- Your pet must be past a certain age.
Puppies and young dogs, for example, are generally much more work than
an older, calmer pet.
- 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.
Sometimes, despite your best efforts, it simply may not be possible
to bring your pet with you. Alternatives include asking a trusted family
or friend whether or not they will adopt your pet; speaking with your
local humane society to ask if they can assist you in helping to find
your pet a suitable home; and talking to your veterinarian, groomer,
and anyone else with contacts in the pet world who may know someone
suitable that may be interested in adopting your pet.
It's becoming more common to see pets in retirement communities. And
if you spend some time with the residents, many would likely tell you what
a delight it is to have a pet companion living with them! Retiring with
your pet may be a challenge, but it's one worth exploring. More and more
communities are acknowledging that pets have a positive effect on the
health and well-being of its residents.