Seniors have a lot of fears about assisted living. They worry they’ll be bored, lose their independence, or that their loved ones won’t visit. But while most assisted living misconceptions are unfounded, there’s one fear that persists: Seniors worry they’ll have to leave their pets behind when they move to assisted living. While it’s true that many assisted living facilities prohibit pets, it’s not a hard and fast rule. In fact, the number of pet-friendly assisted living communities is on the rise. Here’s how you can find the right one for you.

Step 1: Identify Pet-Friendly Assisted Living Communities

Fortunately, more assisted living communities than ever accept pets, but that doesn’t mean pet-friendly policies are guaranteed. Some communities prohibit pets outright, whereas others limit the type and number of pets allowed.

If you have a cat, fish, or small animal, you probably won’t have any trouble finding a community. However, many facilities restrict dogs based on size and breed. That doesn’t mean you should give up! To increase your chances of finding a dog-friendly community, broaden your geographical search area and consider getting your dog registered as a Canine Good Citizen.

Step 2: Decide What You Want in an Assisted Living Home

You, of course, want your future home to be pet-friendly. However, that’s not all you need to consider as you prepare for assisted living. Think about the type of care you need and how you prefer to live. Do you want a private apartment, lots of communal space, or a facility that specializes in memory care? Write a list of your must-have amenities so you can easily rule out communities that aren’t a good fit.

From there, schedule tours of assisted living communities that fit your criteria. While online research will give you the basics, it can’t tell you about a community’s ambiance. By scheduling a tour, you can see up close what each community has to offer.

Step 3: Prepare Your Pet for the Big Move

Once you’ve found the right community, it’s time to prepare for your move. Include these pet-related in steps in your moving to-do list:

  • Schedule necessary vaccinations.
  • Get a copy of your pet’s veterinary records.
  • Give your pet regular grooming as the date approaches.
  • Apply flea and tick preventative.
  • Buy a secure crate for moving your pet.

It may also help to invest in a few tools that can make it easier to care for your pet. For example, purchasing an extended pooper scooper for your dog will allow you to clean up messes without having to bend over too far. The same rings true for sifting litter boxes, which makes this task much easier while helping you save money on litter.

Also, don’t forget to make your pet comfortable in its new home! Recognize why and how moving is stressful for dogs and cats may be anxious after a move. To help them adjust to the situation, set up a quiet area with familiar furnishings like a pet bed and blanket that smells like home.

Step 4: Make the Most of Limited Space

Most assisted living apartments are compact. That’s great when it’s time for chores, but poses challenges for pets that need a lot of space. Cat owners can get creative with limited square footage by creating vertical, feline-friendly spaces and using furniture to hide the litter box in plain sight. Meanwhile, for dog owners living in small spaces, consider using a crate to give the dog its own space and dog-proof the living space by storing dangerous items up high.

No matter what type of pet you have, plenty of exercise and enrichment is the key to keeping it happy in a small home. If you’re having trouble keeping up with your pet’s exercise needs, don’t hesitate to call in reinforcements.

Step 5: Get Help Caring for Your Pet

Every pet owner needs an extra hand sometimes and seniors are no exception. Whether you need someone to pet sit during a hospital stay or a daily dog walker, it’s important to have a relationship with a trustworthy pet sitter. Some pet-friendly communities offer on-site pet care for an extra fee. If you hire a pet sitter online, make sure they’re licensed and bonded.

Mobile veterinarians and groomers also make life with pets easier. Instead of finding transportation to your pet’s appointments, the professionals can come to you.

Many seniors fear the day they have to give up their beloved pet, but with pet-friendly assisted living, that never has to happen. While finding a community that accepts you and your pet isn’t always easy, it’s worth bringing your companion along. Start your pet-friendly assisted living search today so you’re prepared when the time comes for the big move.

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