Senior Living Community Plans Pet-Friendly Amenities

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WEST DES MOINES, Iowa  --  A pet is a part of many families, and a change of address doesn't change that, even for older Iowans. Senior living communities are taking note and adding amenities to attract pet owners.

When Jane Hughes moved out of her town home this summer, she couldn't do it alone.

"I would not have left if I couldn't bring her. I don't know what I would do without her. She's my best friend."

That's why she picked Edgewater in West Des Moines. They welcomed her 11-year-old dog Chloe with open arms.

WesleyLife Regional VP Janet Simpson said, “We've had folks here at WesleyLife who have had puppies, which is an interesting challenge to train a new puppy."

People can bring pets up to 65 pounds to the senior living community. They just need to be on a leash in the common areas and kept out of areas in which food is served. Ten to fifteen percent of the people who live there have at least one pet.

Simpson said, "Research has shown they're a stress reducer. They can lower blood pressure. People who own pets are more apt to exercise, whether it's through walking or playing with their pets. They provide companionship."

A new community called Brio is being built with pets in mind. WesleyLife is building the center in Johnston.

Simpson said, "We'll actually have a pet walking area or pet run, pet play area. It will be a fenced area specifically so owners will be able to let their dogs off leash. That is something I've learned over the years is important."

They're also looking at partnerships with dog groomers and veterinarians to come on site, so people and their pets have everything they need at home. Hughes said, "For me, finding myself alone, and my children live away, that having her, I don't feel alone. She makes me walk, and I think that's good for me."

Brio is set to open late next summer or early fall.