Your Mother, Her Pooch, and Assisted Living

Your mother may have reached a point in life where she thinks she would benefit from moving into an assisted living community. You may agree with her preliminary thoughts. With this meeting of the minds, there may also be something causing both of you to hesitate even exploring the idea of your mother moving to assisted living: your mom’s beloved pooch.

The fact is that many older Americans have a second heartbeat in their households. The thing is the second occupant of their homes many times is a dog or a cat. 

If you have ever been the so-called “owner” of a dog or cat, you are likely to agree that the little furry being is family in virtually all senses of the word. The idea of giving up a beloved dog or cat to move into an assisted living community is unthinkable for most people who have a relationship with a furry family member.

Do Assisted Living Communities Allow Pets?

As is the case with so many things in life, a simple yes or no does not adequately answer the question of do assisted living communities allow residents to have pets? The short answer is some assisted living communities do permit a resident to have a dog or cat while others do not.

The variation in pet policies from one assisted living community to another underscores the need to spend time undertaking due diligence. Because of the importance of moving your dog or cat along with you into an assisted living community, you want to rule out any facilities that are not able to accommodate a dog or a cat.

Bear in mind that the fact that a specific assisted living community cannot accommodate a dog or a cat doesn’t mean that facility should be given a black mark. The reality is that some facilities are not designed in a manner that pets fit in easily with the community.

In considering assisted living options, you are likely to find that mid to large size assisted living communities are more likely to be able to accommodate dogs and cats (and even some other types of pets). A key reason why this is the case is because these communities simply have more space to accommodate people and pets.

Smaller communities by their very definition of design have less space available to accommodate both people and pets. For example, consider a residential assisted living home with space for six people. Adding a number of pets into the mix would make the overall community a potentially rambunctious place, a state of affairs that would not work well in either the short or the long term.

Three Points About Pet-Friendly Assisted Living Communities

While it was important for us to discuss with you what is not possible, we do again emphasize that there are assisted living communities that welcome both people and pets. In fact, there are three important points to bear in mind about pet-friendly assisted living communities in this day and age:

  • Pet friendly assisted living facilities are slowly on the rise as the benefits of seniors owning a pet far outweigh the cons. In fact, some would say the rise is not so slow any longer and is getting quicker with each passing year. 
  • Seniors that own pets tend to be less lonely, have better health, and are more active. 
  • Assisted living facilities are now offering pet amenities, conveniently located near dog parks and pet grooming services.

Specific Pet Policies at Individual Assisted Living Communities

As mentioned previously, each assisted living community has specific policies regarding pets. Those that allow pets, have guidelines in regard to what is permissible as well. 

An example of what to expect at an assisted living community that permits pets is an additional nonrefundable pet fee or perhaps a refundable pet deposit (if there is no damage when a residency ends) payable when a residency agreement is signed. In addition, there is likely to be a modest additional monthly pet fee on top of the general costs associated with living in a particular assisted living community.

Many communities that do permit pets have a weight limit on them. For example, “pets under 20 pounds are welcome.” Many assisted living communities also permit a resident to have up to two pets, each being under an established weight limit. 

When it comes to the prospect of your mom’s pooch moving into an assisted living community with her, bear in mind that there likely will be some sort of pet screening process. This is likely to include providing documentation that any required vaccinations for the pet are up to date. In most instances, staff of an assisted living community are swayed by a trio of factors which are:

  • Behavior of the pet
  • Health status of the owner
  • Ability of the owner to safely care for and control the behavior of the pet