Moving into assisted living does not mean you have to give up the benefits of furry companionship. With the increasing numbers of pet-friendly assisted living communities, which recognize the positive health outcomes that can be conferred by dog ownership, more seniors than ever are able to keep their longtime companions with them in the next stage of their lives. If you or a loved one is in assisted living and wants to own a dog, there are numerous breeds that are especially well suited to seniors and fit the pet requirements of senior communities.
The Benefits of Dog Ownership for Seniors
Research studies have repeatedly found that pet ownership has significant benefits for seniors’ mental, physical, and emotional health — in other words, pets are good for your body AND soul. Dogs in particular are great for providing physical exercise, socialization, and overall day-to-day companionship. Getting out for a daily walk, or even simply playing with a dog indoors, is an enjoyable form of activity, and seniors can choose a dog whose exercise demands are commensurate with their own needs and physical limitations. Even more profound, perhaps, than the fitness benefits of dog ownership are the enhancements to quality of life that a canine companion can provide. Pets can be downright therapeutic, promoting the flow of feel-good hormones in the brain and body, and thereby lowering stress, heart rate, and blood pressure. Over the long run, pet ownership has even been correlated with lower risks of heart disease, stroke, and depression.
Tips for Owning a Dog in Assisted Living
If you or a loved one are trying to decide on the perfect dog to bring into an assisted living community, there are various individual considerations you must keep in mind before making your choice. Not only is the breed of the dog an important factor, you should also consider your own needs and the regulations of the assisted living community. Here’s a list of points to keep in mind as you research:
As we age, a large dog or a very active one might not be the right choice for us, especially if the dog owner has physical limitations that could cause safety concerns. Different breeds also have different requirements for grooming, different levels of trainability, and — particularly important for residents of a shared community — different levels of noisiness. Some breeds are also more susceptible to health issues.