As more assisted living communities are noticing how having a furry companion by their side benefits older adults, seniors planning to move into a retirement home don’t have to worry about having to leave their beloved pets behind. Here, Curbicus has put together some tips to help you find the right facility and make the transition as smooth as possible for you and your furry companion:
Looking for a Pet-Friendly Community
If you have a cat, a dog, or a bird, inquire about assisted living facilities that allow pets to move in with their owners. You’ll want to visit a few places and make sure residents that may be allergic to – or afraid of – animals won’t be inconvenienced should you decide to move in. Other things to consider are the size of your new apartment, the proximity of grassy areas so that your dog can go potty, and the availability of staff to help you care for your pet in case you get sick or are temporarily unable to care for them.
Downsizing With Your Pet
Your furry companion may experience stress and anxiety as you start packing up your belongings and getting rid of the furniture you don’t want to take to your new residence. If you don’t already have one, consider buying a crate where your pet can safely relax. Don’t wait until it’s time to load them up in the car to get them used to their crate: by making it their “safe space,” you’ll be able to use the crate as the familiar link between the old house and the new home, helping them adjust to their new surroundings and even prevent bad habits from developing like urinating, scratching, and biting.
Helping Your Pet Adapt to a New Home
Before move-in day, MyMovingReviews advises planning a few visits to your new place so your pet can get familiar with their new environment. Walk your dog around the premises, let them sniff around, and get to know the other four-legged residents.
If you have a cat, let them get acquainted with their new space by first confining them to one room, like the bedroom, and make sure they have all their essentials: their litter box, food and water bowls, favorite toys, and a comfy bed to rest. Slowly introduce them to the rest of your new place, and be mindful of open doors and windows they could escape through if they get fearful or nervous.
Keeping Your Older Pet Comfortable
Your aging pet may start having trouble getting up and down the couch or your bed as arthritis sets in. They may also start going blind or deaf, making it difficult for them to navigate a new environment. So to ease your older companion’s move into their new home, look into getting a dog ramp, making sure it’s sturdy enough to support their weight and adequate traction to prevent them from slipping. Also, try to keep clutter at bay if your animal is losing his eyesight, and make sure they have a safe and quiet corner to retreat to when they need to rest and relax.
Adopting an Older Pet
Now that you’re moving into an assisted living facility, you may be considering adopting a senior pet: even though they won’t have the playful energy of a puppy, they’ll still give you plenty of love and affection. Getting an older pet can come with challenges.
Shelter dogs sometimes aren’t completely housebroken and may need some obedience training, but taking the time to care for them and teach them proper manners in a fun and loving way will be a very rewarding experience for both you and your new furry friend. The Spruce Pets points out that older cats also make great companions for retirees, especially when they have mobility issues and can’t go out for regular walks.
When downsizing and moving to an assisted living facility with your pet, give them plenty of chances to explore their new place. And if your four-legged friend is getting older, strive to keep them safe and comfortable in their new environment.
Image via Unsplash
Written by Cindy Aldridge
Cindy Aldridge is the creator of OurDogFriends.org, a website advocating for the love and ownership of dogs. She believes that dogs truly are our best friends and wants to see less dogs in shelters and more in loving homes.