How pets benefit retirement home seniors

Bringing an old or new friend along with you is one of the best ways to adapt to a retirement home. By allowing pets, senior communities cultivate a loving, home-like environment in which you need not feel lonely. Plenty of senior homes will let you live with a pet without any additional charge. When asked who the most popular members of their community are, many residents mention pets first.

You, like Elveda Elznic, may only consider living in a retirement home that permits you to bring your beloved pet with you: “When choosing a retirement community, I never looked at any other because my little Shi-Poo Jenny could live here with me. She loves the attention from the residents and staff, and enjoys playing with her poodle friend Tequi, who lives here too.”

Here are three keys ways that pets benefit retirement home seniors...

1. Easing the Transition

May Parry, the social supervisor at the Briton House, believes that pets are an important way to ease the transition from your own home to a retirement community. “A pet is something familiar, part of home life and really part of your family,” she notes.

Jane Jones, the community relations manager of the Grenadier Retirement Residence, agrees. “[Pets] are their family. Why should they move in and have to give them up? It isn’t fair.”

2. Dealing with Your Emotions

A recent study at Goldsmiths College in London found that dogs can show empathy. They have a strong sense about when someone, particularly their owners, is in distress and react accordingly. Other studies suggest that cats can also be empathetic.

Numerous pet owners find that a non-judgmental, unwavering companion is the most effect way to recover from any of life’s hardships.

Mildred exaplins, “When my husband died, I had my cat, Wilbur. I cried a lot. But, when I was crying, Willy was always there. He just sat on my lap and looked into my eyes like he knew I was upset. I don’t know what I would have done without him. I never felt alone thanks to Wilbur.”

Wheeler simply appreciates Tequi’s friendship. “Tequi is my constant companion. He sleeps at the foot of my bed every night.”

3. Forcing you to Exercise

In 2009, the Vanier Institute revealed that pet ownership can improve your health by forcing you to be active. Dogs especially require a lot of exercise. As Mary Wheeler quips, "Right now, he [Tequi the dog] is sitting under the table wondering when I am going to take him for a walk.”

Simon adds, “It’s very easy to just enjoy the nice amenities of a beautiful retirement home and sit around. My dog, Molly, has kept me from being lazy and got me outside. She needs to walk a lot and I have lost a good deal of weight just by taking her for good, long walks twice or even three times a day.”

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Have you had a pet at a retirement home? Share your experiences in a Comment below!

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