For seniors, pet therapy can have an amazing impact on quality of life.
While many assisted living communities do not allow residents to have pets, many have decided to integrate pets into their communities.
Heritage Woods of Yorkville is such a place, allowing pets to visit residents in the Kendall County-based community.
Pets have proven to have positive effects on senior residents at assisted living facilities.
Studies show the health benefits of regular contact with an animal to be significant. Contact with a dog, cat or other pet has been clinically shown to lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels as well as reduce the incidence of depression.
Fewer doctor visits are reported, and pets can also help reduce boredom.
"Animals provide unconditional love and emotional support in a way that is unparalleled," says Judith Eisenberg, a Pet-Assisted Therapy Coordinator. "What an animal can give and teach is a powerful source of healing and personal connection."
There are several questions seniors should ask before owning a pet.
Are you healthy enough to have a pet?
Daily responsibilities of caring for an animal can be challenging of you are in poor health or have limited mobility.
What is the health and age of the pet?
Young pets require a lot of attention and training, and dogs and cats can live up to 15 or 20 years, making it a significant commitment.
What would happen if you could no longer care for your pet?
Consider if you have friends or family that would accept the pet if needed.
There is good news for most seniors who relocate into an assisted care facility that prohibits live-in pets. Family members can typically bring an animal into the facility for visits, rules permitting.
If you are considering moving into an assisted living community, contact the communities to learn about their pet policy as well as community pet care programs.
Heritage Woods of Yorkville, an Assisted Lifestyle Community for the Older Adult, 242 Greenbriar Road, Yorkville, IL 60560, 630-882-6502, www.gardant.com/heritagewoodsyorkville