Looking for an assisted living or retirement community can be tricky enough when you’re only focused on your needs. When you’re factoring a furry family member into your decisions, it gets even more complicated. Many seniors think that they’ll have to adopt out their cat, dog, or other pet when they move into assisted living. Contrary to popular belief, that doesn’t have to be the case. Although some facilities don’t allow pets, it is possible to find a space that does. However, it may make your search longer, and you may need to sacrifice other amenities depending on what’s available in your area. Here’s a guide for finding a pet-friendly retirement community, as well as existing peacefully once you’re there. Starting Your Search Before you can really begin diving into your options, you need to have a firm sense of what you can afford. Meet with a financial advisor or trusted friend or family member and go over your finances together. By taking into account your income, retirement savings, and any investments you have, you can understand your maximum price point. It’s risky to start looking before you’ve done this – you may fall into the trap of getting attached to a community you can’t really afford.

Preparing Your Pet When you bring your pet with you to an assisted living facility, it’s important to make sure it’s ready for the change. Pet-friendly communities have strict rules about vaccinations, behavior, and pest management. Make sure your pal is up to date on vet check-ups and, if they aren’t, get them in ASAP to make sure they don’t have any health issues that will bar you from a community or limit your pet’s access to the facilities. You should also make sure your pal has reliable flea prevention. Fleas can be a big problem in large communities, as they can easily pass from pet to pet and quickly become an infestation. By treating your pet, you ensure they don’t bring in bugs, and that they’re protected if someone else does. Make sure the product you’re using is safe and reliable and appropriate for your pet’s breed and size. Finally, ensure that your pet is appropriately trained. A dog should be trained to use the bathroom outside, walk appropriately on a lead, listen to basic commands, and not intimidate other dogs or people. Cats should be litterbox trained, and able to use scratching posts and cat toys well enough to avert destructive behaviors. If your pet doesn’t meet these criteria, they may not be able to move in, or you could face fines or eviction if they damage the space or harm another resident.

A Backup Plan In a perfect world, your pet would be able to stay with you forever, no problem. However, there is always a possibility that something will happen that forces you to rehome them. Rent may become unaffordable, your pet may break a community rule, or you may simply reach a point where caring for them takes too much out of you. It’s a good idea to have a plan for the possibility that such an event occurs so that you won’t be blindsided. Talk to friends and family to see if there’s anyone who would be willing to adopt your pet if it came to that. That way, if it should happen, you’ll still be able to visit your pet and you’ll know they’re well cared for. Bringing a pet with you to assisted living can be complicated, but it’s well worth it to have your best friend with you during your golden years. Make sure you thoroughly understand your options, community rules, and your pet’s abilities to ensure the process goes smoothly. 

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