A move to a senior living community does not have to mean leaving a beloved pet behind. Branchlands is a pet friendly senior living community, welcoming pets (along with their human companions) with open arms.
Humans develop deep and lasting attachments to their pets, as strong as any they have experienced—even if their displays of affection may not be reciprocated in kind. (Contrast feline haughtiness to canine enthusiasm.) Pets love living with us and appreciate, as no human, our frailties and quirks. Our potato chip breath is irresistible. Shoes carelessly kicked off become delectable chewables. A loose thread provides hours of cat-size entertainment. Pizza crusts are a banquet, and spilled milk is, well, spilled milk.
Pet Ownership Sustains Mental Health
The emotional bonds that many people have with their pets are fundamental to their well-being. Long after the nest is empty and friends pass on, pet owners share an intimacy with their furry friends that is life-affirming. In a way, pets are like children who will never grow up, and they evoke in us the fierce protective instinct of a parent. In exchange, their responses to human mood, expression, and body language are comforting and pleasurable. Especially later in life when isolation poses health risks, the psychological benefits of pet ownership cannot be overstated.
Indeed, pets give a reason to get up in the morning and get moving. The rhythms of their day-to-day needs for food, exercise, and diversion establish human routines and connectedness. Dogs, in particular, miss us when we aren’t around and greet us enthusiastically when we return. They require attention and love, and, in turn, provide companionship and affection, great antidotes to depression and the isolation that many people feel as they age.
For individuals with cognitive impairment, the calming presence of animals can be soothing. Just as music appreciation remains after many other mental capabilities decline, so too can animal companions provide comfort and solace.
Physical Benefits of Pet Parenthood
In addition to the mental health benefits, simply being around a pet has positive effects on physical health. For starters, just walking a dog is a great form of moderate exercise. But even cat owners enjoy a boost to health. Studies have found the proximity of a friendly animal can reduce blood pressure, an important cardio-vascular benefit. For example, a dog and human study reported by the American Heart Association indicated significant stress reduction over time with individuals who interacted regularly with their pets. In fact, just by staring into a beloved pet’s eyes releases a rush of oxytocin, the same feel-good hormone that stimulates maternal care.
Pet Friendly Senior Living at Branchlands
For these many good reasons, we encourage residents to bring cherished animal companions along with them to Branchlands. Before the move, we will discuss the level of care a pet requires and the animal’s adaptability to a new environment.
Independent living residents of the Manor House can walk their dogs along beautiful wooded trails and in adjoining residential neighborhoods. Cats snooze in the warm sun of a resident’s window.
Linden House Assisted Living encourages residents to stay active in caring for their pets. For those less capable, we offer custodial pet care: we will feed, walk, and arrange for grooming and vet appointments. Even residents with significantly impaired capacity benefit from the presence of a nearby animal, and we regularly invite animal “guests” to visit.
Learn more about pet friendly senior living at Branchlands. Ask us about the role of animal companions in our commitment to doing all we can so our residents can “live life to the fullest”.