Finding the right place for you and your pet

There is a lot to consider when choosing a retirement community — from location and convenience to amenities and personalities. But for those who don’t live alone and have pets as constant companions it’s important to find a place where your feline or fido fits in too.
Moving to a retirement community doesn’t have to mean giving up a member of the family.
Quite a few communities believe in the positive aspects of pets. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, pets have been known to help lower their human’s blood pressure, cholesterol and triglyceride levels and help to eliminate loneliness, stress, anxiety and depression.
Pets can also be helpful when settling into a new home and new environment as they tend to draw people in and are easy conversation starters.
Weighing in
Just because a community touts itself as pet friendly doesn’t make it an automatic candidate. It’s important to check the fine print and ask about regulations related to keeping a pet. Policies vary widely.
Some only allow cats, birds and fish. Others allow dogs, but only up to a certain size and weight. Some communities have restrictions on what units are available to pet owners, others don’t allow certain breeds.
At Oak Trace in Downers Grove, a continuing care retirement community, residents are limited to smaller size pets because there isn’t as much space in the residences or a yard. Pets also are only allowed in the independent living community.
At The Merion in Evanston the policy does not allow puppies, only dogs a year or older.
Almost all communities require pets to be properly neutered or spayed and have current vaccinations.
Check it out
Experts recommend spending time at any retirement community before making a decision. While it is important to consider the living areas, services and amenities for yourself, don’t forget to look at the pet population too.
Do you see evidence of other residents with pets? Are the staff and other residents comfortable with the pets?
Little signs like a jar of dog bones at the reception area or dog bowls outside on hot days can be ways the community shows how much it cares for its furry residents as well.
Don’t be afraid to ask for positive as well as negative pet stories. The responses could provide indications as to whether your pet would fit well at that location.
Some residences even have “house pets.” The CEO of Plymouth Place in La Grange Park brings his dog to work daily to visit with residents and there are also bird aviaries.
There are resources available such as A Place for Mom, at, that offer listings of pet friendly communities by state or region.
As seen in Chicago Tribune PrimeTime.