Pets in retirement homes: Make the most of retirement with your furry friends in tow
People often ask us about keeping pets in retirement homes and whether it is a good idea or not. Keeping a pet is extremely rewarding but the unseen benefits can be far greater, especially in later life. Churchill Retirement Living regularly sees the positive impact pet ownership has on the health and wellbeing of its Owners, which is why, unlike some other retirement developments, our Owners are welcome to bring well-behaved cats, dogs and caged birds when they move.
When Valerie Down recently moved to our Beecham Lodge development in Cirencester, she was delighted to be able to bring her dog Georgie with her. She says:
"Deciding to buy a retirement apartment at Beecham Lodge was, initially, a psychological wrench – the future was unknown, and I was giving up a home that held many happy memories. Yet I knew the upkeep of a large house was becoming more and more of a burden, and rattling around in such a space was not only silly, but was becoming lonely. I knew it would only continue to be an uphill battle.
“I need not have worried. My brand new apartment is light, sunny and warm, and brings with it the freedom of junking all those past house repairs."
Bringing my little dog Georgie has been no problem; she has adapted wonderfully to apartment life, and loves looking at passers by from the balcony window. Most importantly, the owners love seeing her. The animal contact is so important to many, and Georgie laps up the attention.
“There is never a dull moment at Beecham Lodge, and a wonderful enthusiastic and caring lodge manager, Trudi Pannell, is always at hand should we have queries, or need advice. She is not only a friend, who manages to maintain a secure environment, but is a mine of information – all done with a cheerful smile.
“What was a leap into the unknown, has undoubtedly proved to be a most rewarding and comforting experience. After the snow and ice of the winter, the sun is now shining through the window – surely a metaphor to describe my move to Beecham Lodge. All fears gone, just a relief to know that the next chapter of my life is going to be one of friendship and fulfilment.”
Reverend Chris Quine and his wife also took up the opportunity to move to a Churchill retirement apartment and brought their dog with them: "When we first came to look at Trinity Lodge, one of the first questions we asked was can we bring pets. If the answer had been no, there’s simply no way we’d have considered moving here."
Our Cockapoo, Temmi, has settled into apartment life very well. She needs three walks a day, and she gets me up bright and early, which keeps me active and I suppose does me good! Everybody loves her here and the other Owners often offer to take her out for walks for me, so she’s certainly a much-loved member of the new community we’ve formed since moving here.
Five benefits of keeping a pet in retirement
There are many benefits to having pets in retirement, but here's our pick of the best.
1. Reduces stress
Stress is something we all try to avoid but sometimes there’s no escaping it. Retirement is a time to kick back and enjoy life, and a pet can help you to achieve this. It has been said that pet owners have significantly lower stress levels than those who don’t own a cat, dog or other furry friend. The affection that pets provide helps us to get through hard times and provide much needed love when we’re feeling down.
2. Increases physical activity
Keeping active in your later years can seem like a chore sometimes. We know it’s good for us but a day at the gym may not be as appealing as it once was. Pets encourage playfulness, laughter, and exercise, which gives a boost to your immune system and your energy. Taking your dog for a stroll once a day provides some much needed exercise while allowing you some enjoyment and companionship.
3. Increases social interaction
Sustaining a social network isn’t always easy as you grow older and pets can be a great social ice breaker. Whether you’re taking your dog for a stroll or chatting to people about your cat, these animals are a shared interest which allows for endless conversation.
4. Improves mental health
Playing with, chatting to, or just holding a pet is believed to increase our brain activity and improve our mood. If you live alone, it’s easy to feel down, especially if you used to have a busy household and a large family. Your animal companion can give you that lift you need and we all know there’s nothing better after a difficult day than coming home to a purring cat or a wagging tail.
5. Improves physical health
You can overcome many of the physical challenges associated with ageing by taking good care of yourself. Looking after an animal can help you to appreciate the importance of this. Making sure you take your pet out and about can help you to lower blood pressure, reduce the effect of arthritis and keep you feeling great.
There are many more benefits to keeping a pet in retirement, and at Churchill, we understand how important pets are to our Owners.