Health Benefits to Pet Friendly Senior Housing

By: Christi Losinski, Marketing Director


April is National Pet Month and we would be remiss if we didn’t recognize the large role that pets play in our lives. There have been a plethora of studies done and the results all show that there are numerous health benefits to owning a pet. From a decreased likelihood of getting heart disease to simply living a longer life, pet ownership seems to be just as effective as a daily multivitamin.


Those in long-term care needn’t look any further than the expression on a resident’s face when they see an animal to know that having them around is a positive thing. There is something very special about the reactions people get when having a visit from a furry (or feathered!) friend.  Even the most reserved individual lights up. 


There is a great deal to be said for allowing pet ownership, visiting pets or even having community pets in a senior housing or long-term care community like an assisted living facility. As people age they tend to move around less. Pet owners tend to get more exercise simply because they are meeting the needs of their pets who are depending on their humans to let them out, feed them and clean up after them. 


There are also several social and emotional benefits that are equally as important. Having animals around increases interaction and encourages conversation between people. Many are drawn to animals and, while they might be more introverted on a normal basis, won’t hesitate to strike up a conversation about someone’s pet...or the pet itself! 


Animals also help to decrease stress and loneliness. They provide companionship which gives isolated seniors and residents a source of affection and activity. Just having physical contact with an animal has been proven to bring anxiety levels down. As some people age their self esteem decreases due a number of different factors and pets can provide a much needed boost by giving them a sense of purpose.


When you’re considering senior housing or long term care, finding out the pet policy is important. Some allow pets, or at least allow pets to visit, and some may even have dogs or cats that roam the community freely. Others may have bird cages, small aviaries or fish tanks. 


At the end of the day, we all have a basic need to love and to be loved and pets provide that in spades. They are always excited to see us, listen to all of our woes and never talk back…most of the time.