Pets increasingly common in senior housing
Nursing homes and senior-living residences are rewriting their old-fashioned rules and increasingly allowing pets to move in, USA Today reported today.
Dogs, cats and rabbits — even a kangaroo — are roaming the halls, lounging on sofas and sharing rooms at a growing number of retirement homes across the country, and in the process making them more loving places.
Some have been adopted as communal pets, rescued from shelters to live in a facility full time; others are animals that residents brought with them.
“Animals are all-accepting. They don’t care about whatever issues a person might have,” said Noralyn Snow, administrator at the Silverado Senior Living Aspen Park Community in Salt Lake City, where seven dogs, six cats, 40 birds and a baby kangaroo live with 100 memory-impaired residents. “And having pets around adds excitement and spontaneity.
“People grow up with animals, have had them all their lives, and this is their home now, so why wouldn’t they have pets here?” says Helene King, communication coordinator for Levindale Hebrew Geriatric Center and Hospital in Baltimore, one of 300 facilities worldwide operating under the “Eden Alternative” philosophy, which integrates animals, plants and contact with children into daily routines to keep the elderly engaged. “It makes such a big difference in their lives.”
Traditionally, most administrators frowned upon animals living in residences for the elderly, citing allergies, and liability cocerns related to residents getting knocked down, bitten or scratched.
USA Today concludes there have been few problems. “We just haven’t experienced a downside,” King says.