Pets play a major role in our lives and have come to be regarded as treasured family members. They are especially vital to the health and well-being of seniors, as they often fill a void in cases where family members live out of the area or a spouse has died. Fortunately, senior living communities have come to recognize the strong bond that exists between seniors and their beloved pets. Many now welcome pets to join their owners in making the transition to this next phase of life.
The acceptance of pets represents a dramatic shift from a time – as little as a decade ago – when a majority of communities were pet-free. Research has helped turn that viewpoint in the opposite direction. It deems that parting with a pet is a highly emotional experience, especially for seniors. In fact, prior to the acceptance of pets, many seniors resisted making the move to a retirement community because of their pets.
Today, that is no longer the case. Pets are perceived as playing important roles in the health, happiness and well-being of their senior-aged owners. Not only do they provide companionship, but dogs in particular can also help seniors from both a physical (exercise) and social (meeting other pet owners) perspective. Oftentimes, pets provide their owners with the will to live.
In addition to welcoming pets as residents, many communities are home to “resident” pets that dispense TLC to seniors who are unable to care for personal pets but enjoy their company. Therapy pets have even become viewed as being holistic keys to unlocking the mind, as many seniors with memory loss can interact with an animal and recall their childhood or the pets that were once part of their lives. Still other communities welcome pet-therapy organizations whose volunteers visit with residents on a regular basis.
As you will discover, senior living communities in Lancaster County are embracing the trend of welcoming pets as residents. That fact is evident in the various advertising and marketing campaigns that features pets. Many communities are home to “resident” pets that provide a connection for those who can no longer care for a pet. Volunteers with therapy-pet organizations are also regular visitors. No doubt, pet-friendly communities are one of the reasons why Lancaster County is regarded as one of the best places to retire in the United States.
Ninth Annual Explore Retirement Living
Saturday, October 19, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
Eighteen Senior Living Communities will be opening their doors to the public, allowing visitors to discover the qualities and amenities that make each of the communities unique. The goal of the tour is to simply provide visitors with a day to explore their options. No RSVP is needed.
- • Wear walking shoes! You may be walking quite a bit to visit different models and features on display.
- • Bring your family and friends. The open house is a wonderful way to engage those closest to you in this important decision. It’s benefical to get their feedback and support.
- • Determine which communities you want to visit and plan to spend 1-2 hours at each site.
- • Come with questions! Your hosts will do their best to answer them. If you still want to find out more, you can make a follow-up appointment or phone call.
Please note, not all communities profiled in this special section take part in this event.
For details and participating communities, visit Exploreretirementliving.org.
DVGRR Seniors 4 Seniors Program
Earlier this year, Rich and Steph Barbour decided it was time to add a dog to their new lifestyle at Warwick Woodlands in Lititz. “We aren’t traveling as much, so we now have the time to devote to a dog,” Bob explains. They learned of the Seniors 4 Seniors program at Delaware Valley Golden Retriever Rescue (DVGRR) and scheduled a visit.
DVGRR, which is headquartered in Reinholds, has placed more than 5,000 golden retrievers, Labrador retrievers, goldendoodles and Labradoodles in loving homes since it was founded in 1993. Six years ago, the organization purchased an adjoining property, naming it The Lynn Glennon Sanctuary. It’s designated as a haven for relinquished senior-aged golden retrievers, Labrador retrievers, goldendoodles and Labradoodles, as well as puppy mill survivors.
DVGRR developed the Seniors 4 Seniors program, which matches senior dogs (ages 8+) with senior-aged (65+) adopters. The adoption process benefits both sets of seniors: the dogs live a slower-paced lifestyle, while their adopters gain companionship and with it, a host of benefits, including exercise, a social outlet, etc. Financial incentives offered by DVGRR help the two sets of seniors form a partnership (potential adopters must meet DVGRR’s other eligibility requirements).
The Barbours welcomed Pippa into their home in February through the program. Naming the very friendly golden was a family effort. “We held a contest, and Pippa was the name that won,” Steph says.
For more information, call 717-484-4799 or visit dvgrr.org.
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