Looking into your pet’s eyes and seeing the warm embrace of unconditional love is a beautiful feeling. It comes as no surprise to anyone who owns and loves their pet that they are scientifically proven to improve the morale and overall wellness of seniors. The American Journal of Critical Care concluded that pets provide benefits including lowered blood pressure, less pain, more happiness, and motivation to get better. SeniorsandHealth.com wants to show you why seniors don’t have to give up their furry friends when they move into assisted living.

In fact, many assisted living facilities allow pets of all shapes and sizes. You shouldn’t have to worry about others assuming responsibility for your pets. In assisted living, many residents live completely independently; therefore, many communities actually encourage bringing pets. Residents that don’t have their own pets can often take advantage of therapeutic pet programs that bring to therapy animals in to encourage interaction among residents.


Pets Provide Countless Health Benefits

The most common issue seniors have with moving into assisted living is the feeling of anxiety and loneliness. Knowing they can bring their pet with them could be the deciding factor for some seniors. Above anything, pets give us a sense of purpose that helps ease the difficulty in living. If they aren’t pet owners before the move, consider a low-maintenance pet such as a cat or some fish. Pets also fit nicely into routine. Dogs thrive off of routine and can fill your day with anecdotal entertainment.

  • Pet owners have a decreased risk for depression
  • Pets help decrease heart disease by encouraging exercise and lowering blood pressure
  • Seniors with pets feel less lonely as pets instill a sense of companionship, entertainment, and affection
  • Pet owners tend to struggle less with activities of daily living due to the pet’s need for routine and responsibility
  • Animal lovers have higher self-esteem and self-image, feeling pride as they lovingly care for their pet


Bringing Pets to a Senior Community

Surprisingly, a large number of residential senior care communities allows animals on their premises. Senior apartments are often the most pet-friendly, as they are most similar to regular apartment living. Assisted living communities also tend to be inclusive when it comes to allowing pets.  Some allow seniors to bring pets from home while others have community pets that live on-site for all residents to enjoy.


Animal-Assisted Therapy

The use of therapeutic animals in residential care has become increasingly popular. Healthcare providers and program directors alike are beginning to recognize the health and psychological benefits of allowing pets in their communities. Animal assisted therapy uses trained emotional support animals to create an emotional bond that reduces stress, improves mood, and encourages social interaction with others.

Interacting with animals has shown to particularly benefit seniors struggling with dementia. As dementia develops, seniors are increasingly unable to communicate and connect with others. Animals generate a sense of support and unconditional love without judgement or confusion. Animal-assisted therapists have noticed that even 15 minutes of contact with animals has resulted in improved appetite, reduced agitation, and increased alertness.


Truthfully, there are countless benefits to owning a pet but living in assisted living doesn’t mean you have to miss out or give up something you love. Assisted living communities are committed to providing quality care while preserving independence. Not only do many communities allow pets, many even offer services that help pet owners, such as cleaning, walking, or grooming services. As you shop around for assisted living, make sure to ask about important pet policies!


For additional health information, visit the main Health and Conditions page or learn more about senior care options on the main Assisted Living page.

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About the Author: John Winfrey Jr. received his Bachelor’s in 2015 from the University of North Texas after spending much of his 20’s traveling across the country. Majoring in Marketing and minoring in Journalism gave him the experience needed to write and research important topics like senior health. Senior health especially hits home as his veteran father was a senior who eventually became deaf and blind. John had to become as familiar as he could, quickly, to provide support for his father.