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Caring for Our Aging Loved Ones

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Pets in Assisted Living

June 03, 20233 min read

We love our pets!

Moving to a senior living facility is almost always an emotional experience. It's usually when something unexpected happens and our senior loved one can no longer take as good of care of themselves as they did just a few months ago.

Unless your senior has someone living nearby to help with the pet, I honestly recommend against bringing them with. I'm a huge pet lover, so this is against my nature to say, but it really isn't realistic a lot of the time in a facility. It can even be a challenge for Independent Living - unless someone helpful lives nearby.

(This is Oreo - he lives in the parking lot where I work. Someone abandoned him and my 2 cats won't let me have a third! So, I take care of him there..... )

Pets in Assisted Living

With that said, here are 8 topics you should consider before bringing your Fur Baby with you!

1. How does your pet do with new environments and people?

Some dogs bark at everyone. Some cats stop using the litterbox when they're upset. These are not pets that will do well in a facility. Take your pet's happiness into consideration with this decision as well as your own.

2. What kind of animal is it?

I'm going to guess that everyone isn't enthralled with your pet snake, right? Lab rat? REALLY BIG DOG! In general, small and friendly dogs are the best in this environment.

Cats also can be, as long as they're happy indoors.

3. Does the facility have deposits, fees, or rent for pets?

Every facility is different, but almost all have some kind of fee. Check before your decide and be sure to get clarification about which deposits (if any) are refundable. Many are not.

4. What are the rules and how free can your pet roam.

Unless you're in a small facility, there are bound to be rules and you may not enjoy them. Most facilities expect your to keep your pet on a leash at all times, unless they're in your room/apartment. Be respectful of the facility and other people/animals and follow the rules. If you cannot, don't bring your pet with you. It's really not fair in a group environment.

5. Who will care for your pet when you can't? Or even when you think you can!

All of us are occasionally faced with the need for help with our pet(s). This is still true in Assisted Living. Most facilities do NOT have staff to assist with your pet. You probably need to be able to walk your dog and clean up after it. You need to be able to clean the kittybox or family needs to come daily to help you.

Also have a plan for when you end up in the hospital - which most of us do at some point. Give the facility information for a friend/family member to take responsibility for your pet the minute you can't. If you can't do this, again consider not bringing your pet with you.

Usually dogs are easier in this regard, too. They're often very happy to stay at someone else's house for a few days if you're in the hospital. Cats..... not so much. Can someone stay in your place with your cat(s) if you're away? Be sure. Check now.

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I know it can seem that I'm not being fair - or don't realize the value of pet ownership. This couldn't be further from the truth. That said, I see the problems from pets in senior living facilities.

If you and your family can keep your Fur Baby happy and healthy in the facility - DO IT! But, please do think it through first.

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