Studies show pet companionship beneficial for senior wellness

‘Tis the season of showing loved ones how much we care—including those companions that come with four legs, two wings or even a few scales. For many older adults, pets are the love of their life—right up there with spouses, family and friends.

Beyond the fact that our pets provide wonderful, unconditional love, numerous studies have shown the positive psychological and physical benefits that creature friends bring us. For older adults, that includes a positive boost to mood, self-worth and a sense of purpose in caring for another living thing.

Dogs (and some renegade cats) also allow seniors to stay connected by getting them out to meet others and engaging in conversations sparked by the presence of a four-legged friend. The daily demands of taking a dog for a walk mean better overall health for retirees, including reduced stress levels, lower blood pressure, cholesterol and triglycerides.

Many may assume that a move to a retirement residence will amount to them having to give up their pet, but that couldn’t be more wrong! There are numerous senior communities that now welcome dogs, cats, birds, small rodents, reptiles and fish. There are even some residences that offer pet-washing and grooming stations!

For seniors on the move, a pet can make the transition to a new retirement community easier and more comfortable, offering companionship and a sense of routine at a time of change. Residents with pets often find themselves instantly popular, as their furry companions make great conversation starters.

If you currently have a pet and are considering a move to a seniors’ residence, here are some questions to ask on your visit:

  • What are the (written) rules regarding pet ownership? Are there weight, size or other restrictions on the species and number of pets?
  • Is your suite large enough for your pet?
  • Is there green space and a safe, well-lit path to walk your dog?
  • Is there a designated area for dogs to do their business?

Some residences may require a pet management plan, which could include designating a back-up pet sitter, and proof of vaccinations. If your dog is a barker, it may be time to think about behaviour modification training to mitigate the problem before moving in.

Even if you don’t have a pet, many seniors’ residences offer weekly pet visits or pet therapy sessions so that non-owners can enjoy a little cuddle or an adoring gaze from their four-legged visitors.

If you’re thinking about moving to a pet-friendly senior community, where you can also enjoy conveniences like dining options, housekeeping, onsite activities and outings, and the availability of personal support as your needs change, call 1-855-461-0685 today to learn more about retirement living at Chartwell.