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Senior Living Has Gone to the Dogs (and That’s a Good Thing)

Senior dog walker in leather vest with four dogs

With nearly eight out of 10 senior living communities being open to humans and their four-legged counterparts, it won’t be hard to find a pet-friendly accommodation for your senior years. However, there are many things to keep in mind before you commit. And once you are there, it is still your responsibility to care for your animal. Keep reading for a few tips on questions you should ask and how to manage your furry roommate for the long haul.

Doing Your Research

Finding a pet-friendly assisted-living facility starts by asking lots of questions. Even if your preferred residence advertises itself as such, “friendly” is a very subjective term. You will need to figure out just how welcoming it really is. Ask things like:

  • How large are the rooms?
  • Do I have to pay a deposit for my pet?
  • Is there a designated off-leash area?
  • Are the outdoor spaces lit at night?
  • Are there size and breed restrictions? asserts that many senior living communities do impose limitations on pets, particularly on dogs. The senior living site recommends small breeds such as the miniature schnauzer, Bolognese, and Pekingese.

Care When You Are There

Caring for your animal in senior living is not that different than caring for it in your own home. Keep in mind, however, that there are a few accessories that can make your job easier. If you have a cat, for example, you can keep them hydrated with minimal effort by using a cat water fountain. Additionally, a scratching post, a few toys, and a self-cleaning litter box will also help you manage their day-to-day upkeep.

Dogs require more hands-on attention, and you will need to take them out at least a few times each day. Establish a routine early on, and you and your pet will have something to look forward to. Inspired Living also recommends having your supplies available for when you need them. This includes their food, medications, and other essentials.

One thing you’ll want to look into is having your pet supplies delivered to your home. Amazon, PetCo, and Chewy are all popular services.

A Contingency Plan

Less comforting, but a situation you must plan for, is the possibility that, at some point, you will no longer be able to care for your pet. Make sure that you have a contingency plan in place. For example, if you are confined to your bed because of an accident or illness, you should know who will step into your shoes. Similarly, if your animal is ill, and you are unable to keep up with their medications, physical therapy, or other necessary treatments, make sure that you have a family member or friend you can do this on your behalf.

If, ultimately, you can’t find a senior housing complex that openly accepts pets, ask yourself if your animal is truly just a pet or emotional support companion. can evaluate your relationship with your animal and, after review from a licensed mental health professional, may be able to provide you with an Emotional Support Animal letter, which can open doors to you and your four-legged friend. And, if you qualify, your monthly “pet” fee may even be waived.

There is no doubt that pets enhance our lives, and especially as we get older. They can ease pain and bring comfort while encouraging us to be social, even if we don’t want to be. Our pets give us a reason to get out of bed every morning. Just because you are ready to make the transition to senior living does not mean that you have to give up what may be your most important relationship. But remember to do your research, have strategies in place that help things move along smoothly, and don’t leave their care to chance.


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