Are retirement communities pet friendly? And if so, what are the parameters?

The bond between owner and pet is one that endures and rejuvenates, so naturally when you decide to make the move to a senior community, you’ll want to bring your furry or feathered friends with you. As part of your decision making process and research, it’s important to ensure that the community you settle on not only welcomes your pets, but enables you to care for them as well—if not better—than you can currently manage on your own.

Benefits of being a pet owner for seniors

It’s been shown through studies that pets can improve both the physical and the emotional well-being of people, but particularly, seniors. Among the most common benefits, pets provide their owners with a sense of purpose and a chance to socialize with others, which also improves their mental and physical health. One of the most notable advantages is that pets enable seniors to lead more active lives.

A range of other benefits to pet ownership includes:

  • Higher self-esteem and spirits for those with memory impairment
  • Lower blood pressure and reduced stress
  • A reduction in loneliness and depression
  • Mental stimulation and an increase in spontaneity

Thankfully, many retirement communities understand these benefits and have begun welcoming seniors with pets more frequently.

More and more senior communities are welcoming seniors with pets

The number of senior communities with strong pet policies is on the rise, and it’s not hard to see why when you can tell just how happy owning a pet makes someone. To make their communities more enticing, many of them not only allow pets but may even provide addition services or amenities to keep the pets safe and their owners happy. This could include anything from special backyard fencing, to making sure that the pets are taken care of. Pet caretaking is quickly becoming a common addition to service plans, which means seniors will have help getting their pets vaccinated or assistance for when they get sick.

How to find pet-friendly senior communities

While it’s true that there are more pet-friendly communities, there are still plenty that might not be receptive to pets; or, they may have stringent policies on the number, kind, size, or weight of potential pets. You want to find the best community for yourself and your pets, so knowing the right questions to ask can be crucial in making the best choice possible for you and your pet.

Top 7 questions to ask pet-friendly communities—and yourself

When you’ve finally found a good community that will welcome your pets, it’s time to ask some questions.

  1. Is the room you’re moving into large enough for your pet or pets?
  2. How much will it cost in deposits or fees to bring your pet along, and when is it due?
  3. If you walk your pet, is there room (like a park, sidewalks, or your yard) where you can do that?
  4. Are pet-friendly areas well-lit at night?
  5. What are the rules of the building or community regarding pets?
  6. Does the community offer a pet care service?
  7. Are there limitations on breed, number of pets, size, weight, or type of pet?

Answering those seven questions will tell you whether the community you have in mind is right for you, or if you need to keep looking.

The bottom line: whether you’re bringing a pet or would like to have one at some point after you settle into your new community, you don’t want any surprises. All it takes is a little due diligence and research to uncover the right pet-friendly community for you.