Monday, August 26, 2013

Pets in Assisted Living Communities Shown to Boost Seniors' Health

In some assisted living communities, dogs and cats can accompany their owners, and sometimes there are pets in assisted living communities (and in nursing homes) that are owned by the facility and enjoyed by the residents. A growing consensus among assisted living residents and staff alike is that pets bring health, connection, and a sense of home.

Not every assisted living community has a pet program. They're growing in popularity at a rapid rate, and for good reason. Studies show that when seniors interact with pets, depression and loneliness decrease while socialization and conversation rise. Part of the reason is that pets are not judgmental and they don't see age or disability. In addition to offering unconditional love, lowering blood pressure, helping fight depression and loneliness, and easing loss, pets in assisted living communities keep seniors active.

Consider these statistics from the Pets for the Elderly Foundation:

• 95% of seniors talk to their pet or a visiting pet
• 82% say pets help when they feel sad
• 71% say pets make them feel better when they feel physically bad
• 65% say touching a pet soothes them
• 57% confide in a pet

"Taking care of a pet is a way to engage residents," says Paul Kelley, senior director of Operations for Sunrise Senior Living. "Many stay active by filling water bowls and taking trips to a pet store for treats. Sharing care can also be a bonding opportunity for residents and staff alike. And for residents who are used to being cared for, it's a nice change for them to step into a caregiver role as they become responsible for an animal's well-being."

It has also been shown that pets are good for Alzheimer’s patients. They, too, need to belong, love and be accepted. Pets give unconditional love. Alzheimer’s patients say the most incredible things in the presence of a pet.

There are common challenges with animals in any community living situation, however, including allergies or just a lack of affinity for dogs or cats. Whatever the potential challenges, the upsides seem to far outweigh the downsides. For some residents, time with their own pet, daily rounds from a community dog or cat, or weekly therapy visits can be the highlight of their day.

Do you have a loved one who is nearing the need for long-term care or already receiving long-term care? Whether you are looking for a facility that allows pets or not, if you have not done Long-Term Care Planning, Estate Planning or Incapacity Planning (or had your Planning documents reviewed in the past several years), now is the time. Please call The Fairfax Medicaid Asset Protection Law Firm of Evan H. Farr, P.C. at 703-691-1888 to make an appointment for a no-cost consultation. While you are here, you will have the opportunity to meet our delightful Siamese cats, bunny, Betta fish, African dwarf frogs, and dog!

P.S. Don’t forget about your pet! Read our recent post about Pet Trusts and be sure to include them in your planning. In addition, be sure to sign up for our bi-weekly newsletter to read "Critter Corner" each Friday, where our pets answer elder law and estate planning questions.


  1. My grandpa love his lovy (dog) and when he was taken to a senior independent living facility, he also took his pet along. Fortunately, the community accepted the dog and everyone one was happy with it. Beyond all, he was happy being there.

  2. Thanks for sharing. I'd love to learn more about assisted living in Tacoma, WA. My dad is getting older and I want him to be well looked after. I'm so happy he'll be able to take his cat! That will make him so happy!

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  4. It's nice also that our seniors have their own pet to avoid bored while waiting us on when we can visit them in the senior community living where most of the relatives don't have care already in their older parents.

  5. Yea it's true I have also heard that pets are good for Alzheimer’s patients and I feel all the Assisted Living communities should allow people to bring their pets with them.

    Assisted Living Concept Westerville

  6. It is a great news. If keeping pets make them happy and healthy it should be encouraged more.
    assisted living the mentally ill.

  7. Looks great, thanks for sharing the excellent article. If you're interested in learning more about assisted living, I have a great website with information about assisted living in New London NH. Take a look at some of my articles if you're interested in learning more.

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  8. I think pets improve most peoples' health - there are plenty of studies showing that they help people with certain types of mental illness, for example. I wonder if it is because a pet is a reasonable level of responsibility while offering a ton of affection. More assisted living facilities and mental health facilities should offer pets! Thanks for the article :)

  9. Hello, good post yeah you are right your post will helpful for those people who have been looking for assisted living centers for their relatives.