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Marketing to Animal Lovers as Senior Living Communities Become Pet Friendly

Does it seem like some senior living communities are going to the dogs these days? The answer is actually yes as more and more senior housing facilities become “pet friendly” to accommodate the growing desire of residents to remain with their pets when relocating to senior communities. As professionals in the fields of elder care marketing and senior care advisor, we should be aware of this trend to maximize our marketing and outreach potential in Chicago. Indeed, animal lovers of all ages might take a closer look at a senior facility marketing campaign when they realize that they–or their parents–can stay with their cherished pet at a new address!

“I have seen a significant increase in seniors bringing their pets with them when they move to a senior community,” says Gail Niksic, senior care advisor with Elderwerks, an elder care referral agency serving the Chicagoland area. Niksic adds that “some of these residents may have recently lost a spouse. Their move to a new community allows them to remain independent while continuing to care for their beloved pet. This means they can maintain their daily routine of walking a pet, which provides important companionship and exercise for both of them.”

Niksic points out additional reasons to remain close to pets. “Studies have revealed that there are both medical and therapeutic benefits to having pets in senior communities,” she explains. “These include lowering stress and blood pressure levels among residents and even helping to curtail depression.”

Of course, individual pets are not the only kinds of creatures to find their way into elder care facilities lately. Staff members of nursing homes, assisted living centers and retirement homes around Chicago have long discovered that maintaining aquariums and bird aviaries, along with scheduling routine dog visits from canine companionship organizations, can lead to improving the health and emotional well-being of their residents. In some cases, the bonds that the patients form with the animals may be the only type of social interaction they have had for months, a testimony to the nurturing and even palliative “powers” of pets.

The past decade undoubtedly has seen a noticeable rise in the number of senior living communities allowing residents to bring their cats, dogs and birds with them. This is especially important for elder care marketing specialists to recognize this trend, as more adult children now inquire whether their parents can keep their pets with them when searching for senior housing alternatives for their mothers and fathers. For animal lovers, it’s helpful to know that their pet may continue to play an important role in their life. In fact, a senior’s busy lifestyle today has the actual potential to include “all creatures great and small.”

Marla Levie, BSW, MA, President and Founder of Focus on Aging, has successfully been providing marketing advisor, social media and recruiting services to the elder care market and to other service-related professions in the Chicago area for over 20 years.

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