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An elderly woman smiling in her senior apartment with a small dog on her lap.

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The Joys of Pet Ownership

For seniors, the benefits of owning a pet are substantial and can have a significant impact on mood as well as health. Pets offer a wide spectrum of benefits spanning many facets of wellness – mental, emotional and physical. In a phase of life where people are most prone to isolation, boredom and loneliness, animals can provide a kind of calm that’s beyond valuable. This is especially true for single seniors. What’s better than a pet who loves you unconditionally? Pets for seniors can vary – some older adults are traditionally dog or cat people, while others are the proud owners of parrots, rabbits, fish or other animals.

Anyone who has cuddled a kitten or watched a puppy wag its tail knows the immense joy animals can bring to our lives. What you may not know, however, is that there are major health benefits associated with having an animal.

According to research, interacting with an animal for even a few minutes can set off a chemical reaction in the brain, raising levels of serotonin. This can result in the dropping of heart rate, blood pressure and stress levels. In the long run, interacting with pets can even lower cholesterol and combat depression, heart disease and stroke.

Three older adults sitting in a living room petting their dog.

It’s a two-way street

Pets and the elderly are the perfect pair – the benefits of their relationship are mutual. But in addition to the joys of pet ownership come care and responsibility. When seniors are trusted and relied on by their pets, they feel an entirely new sense of purpose that’s bigger than themselves. Both the owner and the pet benefit from this trusting bond. Many pets wouldn’t have a place to stay, food to eat or a loving relationship to enjoy if not for their senior companion.
A pet requires love, attention and affection. However, their senior caregiver also benefits from giving their furry friend what they need to be happy. Having a pet such as a dog encourages exercise and physical activity. Not to mention, there are significant social opportunities that come with owning a pet. Neighbors stop by to visit with animals and engage in conversation. Relationships are formed with other pet owners based on common interests. Many senior living residents will go on multiple dog walks per week with their neighbors or other dog owners in the community.

A place fit for you and your best friend

The pet-friendliness of a retirement community may actually be a major deal breaker for some seniors. According to A Place For Mom, about 40% of families inquire about pet policies, and it’s not uncommon for seniors to rule out moving to a community simply because their best friend can’t come along.

An elderly woman in her senior apartment with a small dog on her lap.

When you’re looking for a community, you’re also looking for a place your furry friend can call home too. Therefore, it’s important to ask all the right questions.

Questions to ask:
  • How many pets can I have?
  • Is there a size or weight limit for pets?
  • Are there any breed restrictions?
  • Are there any pet restrictions specific to certain floor plans?
  • Does the community have walking trails, courtyards or expansive grounds?
  • Does my pet need to be vaccinated?
  • Is there a fee associated with having a pet?

The Ridge senior living communities are pet-friendly, with a flexible policy and great understanding for the many benefits these furry friends bring to our lives. Salt Lake City is home to many pet-friendly activities and locations, such as dog parks, outdoor pet-friendly restaurant seating, beaches, doggie daycare and even festivals in honor of our furry little friends.

Eager to learn more about The Ridge pet policy? Download our pet addendum.

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