A Place for Mom is on a mission to spread the word about the benefits of pet-friendly assisted living. We would also like to reward those assisted living communities in the Los Angeles area who already offer this purrr-fect, paws-tastic senior living option.
We often hear that one of the barriers to moving into an assisted living community is that seniors are reluctant to give up their pets. This is not only heartbreaking for the seniors and traumatic for the pets being displaced, but also not the healthiest option for all parties involved. According to Shane Lachtman, Executive Director at LA Animal Alliance, “There are so many benefits to having a companion animal, and we have to remember that our cats and dogs need us as much as we need them. Having senior living options that cater to both animal lovers and pets can make many lives happy.”
As the ‘no pet’ restriction becomes a policy of the past — educating families about pet-friendly senior living options is ever more important. There’s no need for LA shelters to see a spike in seniors giving up their beloved pets for adoption. Not only do pets lower the risk for heart disease and stress in seniors, pets also receive an improved quality of life.
Pet-friendly assisted living communities in Los Angeles definitely do their part to validate the “City of Angels” nickname. According to Mary Park Byrne, researcher for A Place for Mom, caring for a pet and having a pet companion stimulates physical activity, interest and purpose for those in their twilight years. “For seniors, the benefits of a furry companion can be life-changing. Walking a dog is great cardiovascular exercise, but just the simple act of caring for a pet—petting, brushing, feeding—provides both mild activity and a means to stay engaged with the world. Pets can make the elderly feel needed, and that feeling can translate into a greater sense of purpose and self-worth. During what can be a lonely time of life, the unconditional love of a cherished dog or cat can be a bridge to more socialization with others, lowered stress, mental stimulation and a renewed interest in life.”
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Pets benefit from this interaction and companionship, as well. They get to stay with their human companion while receiving, in many instances, better care at the assisted living community than they received with living with the senior alone. This is because many communities have Pet Coordinators to ensure the pets are getting appropriate medications and daily, healthy meals.
It’s important to do your research and find the LA pet-friendly assisted living community that’s right for your family. Some communities offer dog grooming, on site vets and dog walking services for many sizes and breeds. Others only allow small pets with a weight restriction (usually under 20 pounds) — limiting the pets to small dogs, birds, fish, rabbits or cats. Some communities only allow pets on a case-by-case basis, so it’s very important to contact your communities of choice and ask about the particulars/restrictions on their pet programs.
We know that some communities offer pet therapy programs, in which ponies or gentle animals make healing guest appearances. We’d love to hear about those programs, as well. If we missed your community, please let us know and we’ll add you to our list.
For more in-depth information about the benefits seniors receive from their furry companion, read our article on “How Pet Therapy Has Changed Assisted Living.”