Will I be able to keep my pet
when I move into a Retirement village/home?
A question asked by many 60-plussers
YEI looks at the benefits
of pet-friendly retirement villages/homes
It is estimated that South Africans own approximately 9 million dogs and cats. It comes as no surprise that the majority of 60-plus pet owners would like to take their furry friends and companions with them when the time comes to move into a retirement property.
Benefits of pets
Animal therapy was first recorded in 1792 at York Retreat in England. The retreat was put on by the Society of Friends and used animals to help treat people with mental illnesses.
Several other animal therapy sessions are recorded after this, but possibly one of the better-known therapy dogs was a tiny Yorkshire terrier called “Smoky”. Smoky visited her wounded master, Cpl William Wynne at a military hospital in the Philippines in the aftermath of World War II. Medical staff noticed that Smoky’s presence boosted the energy and lifted the spirits of the other wounded soldiers as well as the Corporal. Smoky went on to be nicknamed “The Yorkie Doodle Dandy” and accompanied Dr Charles Mayo, the founder of the renown Mayo Clinic, on his rounds through the hospital.
Dogs are now trained to help the blind, the deaf and the physically disabled. Dogs can detect when someone is about to have an epileptic fit. They can alert you to a problem with a family member. They sense when their owners are unwell and will stay by your side and “care” for you. A Japanese study has shown that dog owners visit doctors 30% less often than non-dog owners.
Research has shown results where a purring cat can help a person in several ways. The purring is medically therapeutic, and it can help lower stress and blood pressure. Purring can ease suffering and anxiety, alleviate depression, loneliness and low morale. The purring vibration has also been found to help infections and swellings.
According to the Healthcare Occupational Therapist at Cle’ du Cap, a Retirement village in Cape Town, the benefits of animals are wide ranging and include
- Causes laughter & smiles – lifts spirits and mood
- Decreases feelings of isolation
- Encourages communication & socialisation
- Decreases boredom
- Improves recovery from ill-health
- Decreases pain, causes release of calming endorphins
In fact, they recently adopted two beautiful cats named Ginger and Precious, who have really settled into their forever home with all 47 of their new owners. They provide comfort and companionship to whoever they decide to snuggle with. And have seriously crept into the hearts of the entire facility. They often venture out into the Village and come and have very verbal conversations with the Office Staff. They have even been seen lounging around in the Village Clubhouse. – Two very happy kitties, and many happy 60-plussers!
More and more retirement homes are becoming pet-friendly and have instituted a pet friendly policy – ‘pet guidelines’, which you will be required to acknowledge and sign before you move in. It’s wise to ask for a copy of the policy and to check it carefully before moving in, firstly to ensure that your “fur children” are allowed to accompany you to the retirement home/village, and secondly to acquaint yourself with the home/village’s requirements when it comes to their pet guidelines.
Are there restrictions as to what animals are allowed?
Most homes/villages have restrictions as to the size and what kind of pet is allowed in the village. Restrictions include the amount of pets per household. Some retirement villages/homes consider each case on its own merits.
Will residents be able to get a new pet if their pet passes away?
Sadly, pets don’t live forever, and unfortunately, there will come a time when they pass away. Should this happen, what are the rules around getting a new companion? Is this something that is permitted? The answer to this differs from home to home – and again, it is an important question to ask before considering a Retirement home.
What about non-pet owners?
Whether you have a pet or not, it’s important that the rights of both owners and non-pet-owners are protected so that everyone can happily co-exist. Most Villages will be very cogniscent of the rights of all residents and will clearly state in their Pet policy how they will deal with the rights and needs of all residents.