Retirement communities are all about improving your quality of life. Therefore, many recognize how pets contribute to that quality of life and are happy to have you bring them along when you move in.

More than companionship. “We strongly believe in the life-affirming power of pets,” says Holiday Retirement, which owns Heritage Oaks on Richmond, Va.’s Southside, on its website. That power includes lowering blood pressure, cholesterol and triglyceride levels; protecting against heart disease and stroke; motivating an increased level of exercise; and just plain making “their humans” happier. Bottom line, having a pet may actually prolong your life!

Conversation starters. “It’s also a great opportunity for introducing yourself to your fellow residents,” the Sunrise Senior Living website explains. Sunrise operates a community in the West End of Richmond, as well as a location in Bon Air. Whether you walk your dog on the community’s grounds or take your pet into the building’s common areas (if allowed), animals have a way of sparking conversation and drawing you closer to other animal lovers, particularly those missing their own furry friends. Not to mention, feeding, walking and caring for a dog or cat gives you back the purpose in life you might feel that you’ve lost.

Loaner pets. You may even see a community pet or two at some communities in the Richmond area. Sunrise Senior Living communities in the area may have a friendly cat and dog greeting you in the foyer. Their mission is to “encourage our animal-friendly residents to engage with our community pets as much or as little as they like through feeding, walking and other daily care.” So if you don’t have a pet of your own, or for some reason can’t bring yours along, you can still have a wagging tail to greet you and a fuzzy head to scratch whenever you need it.

Read the fine print. Although you’ll find plenty of communities that allow pets, this privilege must be regulated. For example, The Towers on the Southside of Richmond sets a 25-pound weight limit on resident pets, while other communities may allow cats but not dogs or restrict the number of pets you can have. Plus, once you and your furry roommate are living in the community, you’ll need to abide by a set of rules like keeping him on a leash when outside your living space or making sure she’s current on her shots.

So before you choose a community, be sure to check whether it allows pets and the guidelines the community has set around bringing them with you. Then pack up Rover’s bones or Fluffy’s scratching post and move your family into your new home!

Did you take your pet with you when you moved to a retirement community?

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