elderly couple holding a cat; cat friendly senior living in florida

Attention, animal lovers: did you know you can bring your furry friend to many senior living communities in Florida?

Florida is filled with pet-friendly senior living communities, including independent living, assisted living, CCRCs, and more.

This is great news for seniors who want to move to assisted living, but could not dream of moving without their beloved pet.

Not only do many senior communities in Florida allow pets, but they are often encouraged. That is because pets have exponential physical and emotional benefits for seniors

Learn about pet-friendly senior living in Florida, as well as the benefits of pets for seniors and what to consider when thinking about adopting a pet.

Benefits of Pet Ownership for Seniors

couple holding hands walking bulldog; pet friendly senior living in florida

A study conducted by the University of Michigan states that 55% of older adults have a pet. Some of the most popular pets for seniors include dogs, cats, hamsters, rabbits, lizards, birds, guinea pigs, and fish.

It’s no secret that pets are adorable, but did you know that owning a pet – and interacting with animals in general – has countless emotional and physical benefits for seniors? Some advantages of senior pet ownership are as follows:

Companionship

Unfortunately, many seniors face loneliness and isolation as they age, especially if they live alone. Thus, a pet is a perfect senior companion, providing unconditional love and emotional support. 

Stress reduction 

Interacting with pets has been shown to reduce stress by lowering the production of the stress hormone cortisol. It also has been shown to lower seniors’ blood pressure and reduce feelings of anxiety and depression.

Physical activity

Pets offer not only emotional benefits but also many physical benefits. Pets like dogs need to go on frequent walks, and both dogs and cats enjoy playing with toys. Thus, pets cause seniors to stay active and mobile in order to provide their animal with the exercise it needs. Exercise leads to increased longevity in both adults and pets, so it is a win-win for both parties involved.

senior woman smiling at dog; pet friendly assisted living in florida

Socialization

Having a pet opens up more opportunities for social interaction. For example, just by taking your dog on a walk or to a dog park, you are bound to interact with plenty of other people. And if you do not have your own pet, volunteering or attending pet therapy sessions also is a great opportunity to socialize with other animal lovers. Socialization is crucial for seniors’ health and wellness as they age.

Sense of Purpose

Having a pet that relies on you to survive is one of the best ways to feel a sense of purpose and motivation. Taking care of your pet is extremely important and requires you to be your best self for your furry friend.

Cognitive Stimulation

According to some studies, taking care of a pet can reduce cognitive decline. That is because owning a pet requires problem-solving skills, social interaction, critical thinking, and many other skills that benefit brain function.

What Seniors Should Consider When Thinking About Adopting a Pet

senior woman smiling at dog; assisted living that allows dogs in florida

While animals are great for seniors, owning a pet may not be the best option for everyone. Pets require a lot of work and responsibility, and they can be costly. Seniors should consider the following questions before deciding to adopt a pet:

  • How much time do you have to dedicate to a pet? Dogs require a lot of time and attention throughout the day. Cats require plenty of attention too, but slightly less so than dogs. Other pets like lizards, hamsters, and rabbits require daily attention but not as much as cats and dogs. And some pets like fish require minimal attention, but still do need to be taken care of on a daily basis. An animal professional at a pet store or shelter will be able to tell you detailed information on the time and attention requirements for different pets. 
  • Are you physically capable of taking care of a pet? Owning a pet, especially a dog, requires a sufficient amount of physical exertion and mobility. Dogs must go outside multiple times a day, as well as go on walks and play to get exercise. Some dog breeds  require less exercise than others, especially smaller dogs like Cavalier King Charles spaniels, shih tzus, poodles, maltese and others. Click here to take a quiz from the American Kennel Club on what type of dog breed is best for you.
  • Do you have the budget to take care of a pet? Pets can be expensive. Certain pets like lizards and guinea pigs require cages with appropriate accessories and specific food. Cats and dogs require routine vet visits, vaccinations, medications, food, toys, sometimes grooming, and other requirements. Studies have shown that owning a dog can cost anywhere from $1,000 to $5,225 per year. Thus, it is important to evaluate your budget and make pet decisions accordingly.  
  • Do you have support to care for the pet if you are unable to? It is important to prepare for the future in case of illness, injury, or change in condition that would prevent you from being able to take care of your pet. It is wise to have someone prepared to support and take care of your pet in case of emergency.
  • How often do you travel? Pets need someone to take care of them, and this includes when their owners are away. If you are someone who travels frequently, having a dog or cat can be difficult – or at least take extra effort – as you will need to find a trustworthy sitter to care for them while you are traveling.

Pet Opportunities for Seniors in Florida

elderly man with golden retriever; dog friendly senior living in florida

Florida has many opportunities for seniors to interact with pets. For example, For the Love of Cats in Naples, Florida offers a “Seniors to Seniors” program that allows senior citizens to adopt senior cats at no cost.

Similarly, the Gulf Coast Humane Society in Fort Myers, Florida offers a “Senior to Senior” foster program where senior citizens can foster senior pets for their mutual benefit. This is a good way to enjoy the positive aspects of having a pet – and give an older pet a loving place to stay – without committing to owning the pet long-term.

Volunteering

If you don’t have the time, mobility, or budget to adopt your own pet, there are still many ways to interact with animals in the community. For example, many shelters need volunteers to help care for the animals, take them on walks, feed them, and more. Some shelters need volunteers to simply pet, play and interact with puppies and kittens to help them socialize and get exercise. 

These are great options to volunteer and spend time with animals that need love and care, without actually adopting one. Volunteering also provides seniors a sense of purpose and belonging in the community, which is beneficial for maintaining mental health and a positive mindset.

Pet Therapy for Seniors

Another beneficial way to interact with pets without actually owning one is through pet therapy. This type of therapeutic approach uses dogs, cats, horses, rabbits, and other animals to improve seniors’ mental and physical health. 

During pet therapy, seniors can visit with pets, play with them, walk them, or simply just pet them. These activities have been shown to boost people’s moods and reduce stress while also providing opportunities for social interaction, physical activity, and cognitive stimulation.

Pet therapy is common in most senior living communities. It is a universally beloved activity, including for residents of memory care communities who often love spending time with animals.

Pet-Friendly Senior Living in Florida

senior woman in wheelchair holding cat; pet therapy for seniors in florida

There are hundreds of pet-friendly senior living options in Florida.

Every assisted living community has their own pet policy, with some having restrictions on the number of pets, type of pets, size, or breed.

When touring a senior living community, be sure to inquire about their pet policy and requirements.

If you do not have your own pet but want to interact with pets in senior living, make sure to ask about pet therapy or pet visitation opportunities at the community.

If you want to bring your pet to a Florida senior living community, or participate in regular pet activities, an expert senior advisor from Florida Senior Consulting can help. 

Let us know your priorities and preferences for senior living, and our local experts will find the perfect community for you. 

We personally accompany you on tours, compile your best options, and help you make informed decisions – all at no cost to you or your family. You may even get a visit from our own company mascot and therapy dog, Bernie!

Give us a call today at (800) 969-7176 or visit FloridaSeniorConsulting.com to discuss exactly what you are looking for. We are thrilled to help (and we’d love to see pictures of your beloved pets, too!)

Senior living on your terms. The choice should be yours.

Contact Florida Senior Consulting

(800) 969-7176