Good Stuff

Seniors keep a ‘leash’ on life

Don Picciano, Jr.

When people over age 55 decide that it's time to downsize and move to an active adult community that provides the services to help transition them through the aging process, their ultimate decision might be impacted by a dear friend or companion-their loving pet. In its more than 40-year history, Copeland Oaks, a CCRC in Sebring, Ohio, has realized the pivotal role that pets play in their residents' lives.

According to Don Picciano, Jr., Director of Marketing and Public Relations at Copeland Oaks, the organization's pet policy has been upgraded to be more encompassing. “We now allow residents to have two pets in their units,” he says. It is common to see owners and pets enjoying the campus' many walking trails through bucolic settings.

“While pets are welcome, their owners do have responsibilities. The animals must be in good health, well-behaved and cared for,” explains Picciano. He adds that with the liberalization of the policy, pets (primarily dogs and cats) are welcome not only in the independent living villas, but in assisted living apartments as well. One caveat: If, over time, a resident's independence becomes an issue, he or she needs to make sure that a family member or other trusted person is willing to assume the tasks of ownership.

“While residents in skilled nursing do not have personal pets, the unit does have a resident cat and visiting dogs to provide companionship,” says Picciano. It is an acknowledged fact that pets promote happiness among seniors. When the grandchildren visit, they love being welcomed by a familiar friend.

The pet policy has received overwhelming support from all residents in the community. Even those who don't own pets enjoy having them around. Picciano adds: “We plan to build a dog park in the future to reward our four-footed guests for adding so much love and entertainment to our community.”

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Long-Term Living 2011 August;60(8):56

Topics: Articles