Transitioning to Assisted Living for Pet Owners

Transitioning to assisted living or memory care is a significant life change, especially for elderly parents who have cherished pets. Pets provide companionship, reduce stress, and improve overall well-being, making it crucial to consider their needs during this transition. Here are some tips and insights to help make this transition smoother for both your loved ones and their furry friends.

Understanding the Options

1. Assisted Living with Pet Policies

Many assisted living facilities are pet-friendly and have specific policies regarding pets. It’s essential to research and choose a facility that welcomes pets and understands their importance in residents’ lives.

2. Memory Care Units

Memory care units might have stricter policies regarding pets due to the nature of the care provided. Some facilities may allow pets if they are well-behaved and don’t pose a risk to other residents. However, you must consider if the pets quality of life and routine will be changed drastically or be inconsistent, as well as their safety.

Preparing for the Transition

1. Visit the Facility

Before making any decisions, visit potential facilities with your parents. Observe how the staff interacts with pets and ask about their pet policies. Most Facilities do have policies in place where staff can not care for the animal due to policy, insurance and safety reasons. Be sure to ask what the facility policy is on staff interaction and pets.  This firsthand experience can help ensure that the environment will be suitable for both your parents and their pets.

Transitioning to Assisted Living for Pet Owners: visit the facility
Transitioning to Assisted Living for Pet Owners: health and behavior assessments

2. Health and Behavior Assessments

Ensure that the pet is in good health and has up-to-date vaccinations. Assess the pet’s behavior to determine if they can adapt to a new environment with different routines and potential noise levels, new smells, sites and interactions.

3. Create a Familiar Space

When moving, try to recreate a familiar space for the pet. Bring along their favorite toys, bedding, and other items that carry a comforting scent from home. This can help ease the pet’s anxiety during the transition.

Alternative Arrangements

1. Rehoming

In some cases, it may not be feasible to bring the pet along. If this is the case, finding a loving new home for the pet is crucial. Consider relatives, friends, or reputable rehoming organizations that can provide a safe and loving environment.

2. Pet Visits

If the facility does not allow pets, arrange regular visits. This can provide comfort to your parents and maintain their bond with their pet. Some facilities might also allow therapy animal visits, which can provide similar emotional benefits.

Emotional Support

Transitioning to Assisted Living for Pet Owners: counseling

1. Counseling

The transition can be emotionally challenging for your parents. Consider seeking counseling or support groups that can help them cope with the changes and the potential separation from their pets.

Transitioning to Assisted Living for Pet Owners: staying connected

2. Staying Connected

If the pet cannot move with your loved, ensure they stay connected through regular updates, photos, and video calls. There are now services were custom artwork, video games and stuffed toys can be replicated to look like the beloved pet., This can help mitigate feelings of loss and loneliness.

Professional Help

1. Pet Sitters and Dog Walkers

Hiring a pet sitter or dog walker for a pet in an assisted living facility or memory care unit offers numerous benefits for the pet, the resident, family members, and facility staff. This service ensures consistent care, regular exercise, and companionship for pets while providing peace of mind, enhanced quality of life, and reduced responsibility for residents and their families. Professional expertise and customizable services make pet sitters and dog walkers valuable assets in maintaining the well-being of both pets and their owners in these settings.

2. Pet Therapy Programs

Look for assisted living facilities that offer pet therapy programs. These programs can provide your parents with the joy of interacting with animals even if their own pets are not with them.


Moving to assisted living or memory care is a significant change for elderly parents, and it’s essential to consider the well-being of their pets during this transition. By researching pet-friendly facilities, preparing for the move, and exploring alternative arrangements, you can help ensure a smooth transition for both your loved ones and their beloved pets. Remember, the goal is to maintain the bond and comfort that pets provide, even in a new living situation.

About the Author:

Savanna Westwood

Savanna Westwood is the Owner and Founder of The Savvy Sitter, Pet Sitting and Dog Walking, LLC. She has grown up with animals all her life and enjoys spending time with them. Savanna has lived in the Winter Garden and Windermere Area for over 30 years. When she is not taking care of Fur Friends, one can find her reading, practicing archery, riding, and devising ways to provide additional and excellent services to clients.  Savanna is a Certified Professional Pet Sitter with Pet Sitter International's CPPS certification and also holds certification in Pet First Aid and CPCR for Pet-Care Professionals.

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