Rolling out the (pet-friendly) welcome mat

For Bearbrook resident Betty and her Yorkshire Terrier Nikki, finding a truly pet-friendly retirement residence was high on the priority list. Read about Betty and Nikki's special bond, as well as the many benefits of owning a pet in retirement.

Are you pet-friendly, for real?’ That was one of the first questions Elizabeth asked Bearbrook Retirement Residence when she began helping her mom Betty look into retirement homes. The answer from the Bearbrook team was an enthusiastic yes. But Elizabeth was even more pleased to see first-hand that the home meant it.

Betty and Nikki

That was three years ago, and over the years, Betty and Nikki, her six-year-old Yorkshire Terrier, have become adored members of the Bearbrook community. Betty has Alzheimer’s, so the Assisted Living Floor was the best option to get the support needed and have a helping hand close by for Nikki.  

At 96, Betty is comforted by her little companion Nikki, who she welcomed home on her 90th birthday. They bonded instantly, and Elizabeth knew it was not an option to separate her mom from Nikki when it was time to move. Bearbrook residents love seeing Nikki in the lobby, and many enjoy saying hello and stopping so that they can pet her. It’s not an overstatement to say Nikki has a lot of friends. 

Owning a pet, especially for seniors, can have many benefits. The bond between animals and people can run as deep as any human relationship. Pets can positively impact a person’s physical health and emotional well-being, lowering a person’s blood pressure, increasing daily exercise and encouraging social interaction. This is certainly the case with Nikki, who lights up the lobby, visiting with other residents and team members. 

Elizabeth’s advice to seniors considering retirement living with a pet is that it can work. Here’s what to consider:

  1. Look for a truly pet-friendly residence
  2. Meet with the managers early in the process to that they can clearly explain what the home can accommodate
  3. Even if the senior isn’t fully able to care for a pet themselves, it can be made possible with the support of family or others
  4. Enjoy the opportunity to start a new beginning with your pet. Many in your new community will love to meet you and your pet. They will bring so much joy to everyone you live with

Logan McCalder, Concierge team member at Bearbrook, works closely with new residents and their pets to ensure they both feel welcome. The team is happy to help residents connect with nearby services, whether veterinarian care or grooming. Pets quickly become a part of the Bearbrook family too.

“Our philosophy is that we are here to fit your lifestyle, not the other way around,” says Logan. “At Bearbrook, we want to do everything we can to ensure our residents live life to its fullest by experiencing the things that bring them joy.”


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