The question above may seem an odd one, but for residents of some senior living communities, they couldn’t imagine life without their furry, four-legged companions. According to the recent article, “Senior Homes Partial to Pets,” by Sharon L. Peters, the practice of welcoming cats, dogs and even rabbits into senior care communities is a growing one.
Just ask the residents of the Levindale Hebrew Geriatric Center and Hospital in Baltimore, MD, a pet-friendly provider profiled in the article. As Helene King, a communication coordinator for the center says, “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?” The center offers pet therapy as a part of their “Eden Alternative” program, which also includes plants and contact with kids as a part of their daily routines.
While living with pets isn’t ideal for every senior, many locations that have attempted to integrate canine or feline companions into their staff claim a high rate of success. Levindale, for example, believes that their dogs, cats, birds and fish relax residents, offer companionship, and relieve boredom and loneliness.
Provided the pets are well cared for, it seems that the benefits of having furry therapy assistants outweigh the negatives. Says King, “We just haven’t experienced a downside.”