3 Tips for Seniors considering a Canine Companion or Feline Friend in Assisted Living

Note from All in a Day’s Bark: Most seniors living in retirement communities are being told to not have any visitors during this current pandemic. To combat loneliness and isolation, seniors could consider adopting a shelter animal for companionship.

Guest article from James Hall of Senior Care Fitness

Pet ownership has been known to do wonders for older adults. Healthwise, it’s been found that keeping a pet can contribute to a healthy heart by giving seniors more cause to be active and stick to a healthy routine. Moreover, a pet can keep seniors more sociable, which, in turn, helps protect against loneliness and other emotional and mental concerns.

On the other hand, pet ownership tends to come with more than its fair share of challenges. In fact, it’s been found that seniors who have pets are less likely to visit the doctor or agree to get hospitalized and are more likely to delay moving into assisted living facilities or nursing homes. No doubt, this is very concerning, especially as one’s physical needs increase with age. However, there are measures you can take to ensure that you and your pet remain safe and healthy together in your golden years. Here are a few.

Assess Your Needs

Of course, there’s little question that you want to take your pet with you wherever you choose to move. While this is well within the realm of possibility, it’s also a good idea to recognize that in some facilities, you may not be able to do so. With that said, it’s of utmost importance that you consider your own medical and physical needs first, and these should be your biggest concerns when it comes to choosing senior housing.

There are numerous options when it comes to housing that you can consider, and assisted living is one of the most compelling options. You will find many of them in your area of choice, so when searching assisted living facilities, make sure to focus on the ones in your price range that offer the amenities you prefer. It’s also wise to visit several before making a choice — not just to see how they satisfy your budget and lifestyle, but also for you to get a real feel of the place. Also, don’t hesitate to contact advisors through sites like A Place for Mom if you need a hand selecting a facility, such as in Long Beach, that features everything you need.

Pay Attention to the Fine Print

Now, the good news is that many assisted living facilities today are able to accommodate pets. However, it will also serve you well to know that such accommodations often come with caveats. Generally, there will be conditions on the type of animal and breed you can bring in, as well as other factors such as size and temperament.

Another thing to note is that, more often than not, the care and assistance you receive in assisted living usually will not extend to your cherished companion. Invariably, this means that you will be fully in charge of your pet’s care. This, in turn, means you also have to honestly assess your own physical capacity to know for certain if you are, in fact, up to the task.

Invest in the Right Tools

Whether you’re caring for your pet in assisted living or in your own home, you will find that having the right tools and supplies on hand will be greatly beneficial to your own comfort and convenience. As a senior, having to constantly bend down to feed or clean up after your pet can prove to be a hardship physically. With this in mind, it’s smart to rethink your setup. Consider investing in elevated food and water bowls that can make feeding time a breeze. Self-cleaning litter boxes and taller waste scoops and rakes will make clean-up a lot easier on you, too.

The risk of falls is also a cause for concern if you have a dog to walk. While there’s no equipment that can offer a quick fix for this, you can actually avoid falls and prevent injuries by incorporating balancing and strengthening exercises to your physical routine to ensure that you’re better able to handle your pet when you’re out and about.

Indeed, it’s true that keeping a pet will be challenging in old age, but it’s also true that few troubles are as worthwhile. At the end of the day, you’re only going to want what’s best for your pet, so make sure to explore the many ways in which you can both have a long and happy life together, as well as learn how to let go if you have to.

Photo by Nina Jussila

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