Pets are Family to Everyone, Especially the 50 Plus Generation!

“We don’t stop loving our pets and in fact for many of us they are our constant companions and very often our reason for getting up in the morning”.

These words came to me from a reader of my 50plus articles. She went on to ask me “do you sir have or have you had pets”. I believe she was coming from a place of love and frustration. Love of the animals that have added depth to her life and frustration from the lack of attention to the subject of senior communities focus or lack thereof regarding the topic of pets in their buildings.

The reason your pet has such a positive influence on your health is because the presence of a dog or cat pulls your attention away from yourself.

Medical experts have long touted the health benefits of dog ownership. Studies have shown that petting a dog releases oxytocin, a feel-good hormone that lowers blood pressure and calms anxiety. Caring for an animal can be therapeutic. We could all benefit from the presence of more ‘happy hormones’ coursing through our bodies.

I consulted with Adele Lund who is a mentor and an expert on senior living. She was kind enough to share with me some invaluable information regarding her communities owned by the Laureate Group.

Adele shared that it is rare that a new resident would purchase a pet after moving in…almost exclusively it is someone bringing in a long-time pet they can’t part with.

In many communities the rules related to pet ownership make sense since many occupants are not pet owners and have not interacted with animals in the past. Therefore lobbies and dining areas exclude pets from occupying those areas.

Residents with dogs are expected to take them out in designated areas, and are required to clean up after their own pets. If for some reason a resident is no longer able to manage the cleanup, there is a local service that can be hired to do that for a fee of $25 per month. The cost paid by the resident. If caring for their pet becomes difficult for a resident they may give up the pet to a relative or friend.

There is typically an addendum signed by the resident regarding their dog or cat. Pets are referred to in this agreement as a house pet. A deposit of $500 is required at many communities. Damages by the pets are the responsibility of the resident. The following are required by the senior community:

  1. Veterinarian certificate for rabies vaccine for dogs and cats
  2. No rodent or reptile pets allowed. Example: rabbits, hamsters, etc.
  3. Birds must be caged at all times
  4. Dogs and cats are not allowed in lounges, dining areas, or activity areas
  5. Dogs and cats must be on a leash outside of the resident’s apartment
  6. Resident is responsible for cleaning up after their pet and must have proper equipment for this purpose
  7. Resident must use entrances and exits other than the main lobby when entering and leaving the building with a pet
  8. If resident is out of the apartment longer than 24-hours, the pet must be removed

These are somewhat typical rules for communities allowing dogs and cats. There is usually a size restriction for dogs.

The good news is that many senior communities are pet friendly and that is great news for those of you who have put off a needed move because you thought there were no answers to this question of loyalty and love for your dog or cat. Far too many of you have decided to wait for your life-long ally to pass on before making a needed move and struggle to maintain your home of many years. Physical and mental needs have changed and trying to keep up a home without the physical strength or financial savings is an issue. You don’t want to be in a position where a sudden change occurs and then decisions are made out of your control.

Therefore, if you are a pet owner and want to make sure the two of you make your move together, make sure you take the time to visit several communities and ask the questions that may be answered with a positive yes as to living with your dog or cat. Take some time to visit the communities of your choice and ask questions about rules and regulations regarding your pet. You may find that you can make that move sooner than you thought!

Bruce Nemovitz is a Senior Real Estate Specialist, as well as Certified Senior Advisor. Bruce has sold residential homes in the four county Milwaukee-Metro areas for 35 years. He has published a book called “Moving in the Right Direction”, A Senior’s Guide to Moving and Downsizing. Bruce has just written his second book for the children of seniors, “Guiding Our Parents in the Right Direction”, Practical Advice about Seniors Moving from the Home They Love.