How Pet Programs in Assisted Living Facilities Can Help Animals in Shelters

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August 21st is National Senior Citizens Day, a day designated to honor our elders, and of course, we at Found Animals extend our love to senior cats and dogs as well. The day reminds us to call our older family members to show our appreciation, to volunteer to help an elderly neighbor, and to soak up the reservoir of wisdom accumulated from years of experience from generations before us.

senior woman hugs golden retriever

Many rescues have Senior for Senior programs where they match you with the perfect pet and provide a discount on adoption fees.

The day also reminds us that shelters have many senior animals who need homes. Older cats and dogs in shelters have a much smaller chance of getting out alive compared to their sprightly kitten/puppy counterparts. They are often stereotyped to have “ended up there for a reason” whether it’s behavioral or health-related. Potential adopters would rather take home a small kitten and puppy with their whole life ahead of them. Yes, young’uns are adorable, but what’s not to love about a little more white around the muzzle and a mature and mellow disposition?

In fact, older cats and dogs make wonderful companions, especially for senior citizens. That’s why many assisted living facilities and nursing homes now allow “community pets” and even allow tenants to bring their pets – the benefits are plenty and mutual! Having an animal companion is known to lower stress, reduce blood pressure, and decrease the likelihood of depression. Assisted living and nursing homes can be lonely places, and having a dog wag his tail in response to your love and care can really lift your spirits and inspire you to live every day to its fullest. No one knows genuine appreciation like a mature pet; you fulfilled their last hope the day you welcomed them home.

There is a lot of opportunity to  save senior pets in our shelters and bring happiness and comfort to those living in assisted living facilities through pet therapy and community pet programs. Some facilities, like Silverado Senior Living, which has centers in six states, make pets an integral part of their therapy, even hiring on staff pet care coordinators to make sure all of the animals are well taken care of.

seniors for seniors program

Photo courtesy of Happy Endings Animal Rescue

Senior citizens and senior pets are a good match in energy level and physical needs. Older dogs often suffer from arthritis and can’t keep up with an active owner. Shorter walks and more time lounging and living the good life are “a-okay” by them. Older felines love a quiet home and a warm lap to take their frequent relaxing catnaps. The doting atmosphere of assisted living and nursing homes is perfect for a pet who needs regular administration of medicine and more daily attention. Generally, senior dogs and cats are gentler, calmer, and the biggest benefit of all, already housebroken and trained with basic commands!

Why not take a look at the facilities and programs in your community? Are you or someone you know active with your local animal shelter and/or assisted living facilities?

Pet Partners has step by step resources to help you develop a visiting animal program, even offering free phone consultations with a Pet Partners coordinator if you need extra help along the way.

Consider adopting an older dog or cat for yourself, and reach out to senior citizens around you to let them know that animal companionship is available. Happy National Senior Citizens Day, everyone!

Do you know of any facilities that have a community pet program in place? Share your story in the comments below.

3 Responses

  1. Our rescue group has a senior to senior program in place for our senior cats rescued from High Kill Shelters. We have had amazing success to the point we can’t even pull enough senior cats for placement. We work hard on this program and have grown to amazing success. We love working with the seniors and we have now a program with seniors to allow them to volunteer their time in coming to our adoption center just to visit with the cats and brush them. Its been amazing and just overwhelming in all the joy the cats bring to a seniors life

  2. Our rescue group has a senior to senior program in place for our senior cats rescued from High Kill Shelters. We have had amazing success to the point we can’t even pull enough senior cats for placement. We work hard on this program and have grown to amazing success. We love working with the seniors and we have now a program with seniors to allow them to volunteer their time in coming to our adoption center just to visit with the cats and brush them. Its been amazing and just overwhelming in all the joy the cats bring to a seniors life

  3. david dodson says:

    Hi my name is David Dodson I live in Muncie Indiana. Me and my brothers have come up with a two piece retractable dog leash holder. One piece will mount just out side of your door and the other will attach to your leash.Was wondering if you might be interested in this product. It will be good in places where you cant put a stake in the ground like rvs campers conduminiums assisted living homes any where that they take care of lawn and cant put a cork screw tie out EZ-Dog-Walker.com

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