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Jaime-Lee Gardner
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Louise Martin
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Should developers create pet friendly estates?

Why allowing Fido is good for residents’ mental health

By Angelique Ruzicka

, |

Should developers create pet friendly estates?

Why allowing Fido is good for residents’ mental health

By Angelique Ruzicka

, |

2 min read

Most retirement homes have strict rules about keeping pets. But now there’s one retirement village that’s going against this status quo and allowing pensioners to keep their furry friends with them in retirement.

It’s called The Great Oaks Retirement Village and it will offer retirees the choice of luxury cottages and hotel-style apartments in the prestigious area of Constantia in Cape Town.

The Great Oaks Retirement Village will open for occupancy in late 2023. Hotel style apartments will start at R3.5 million while luxury cottages will be priced from R7.5 million.

Marketing and sales manager Lynette Harding told Cape Talk radio that the village will actively encourage pet ownership because ‘pets make for wonderful companions and offer immeasurable physical and mental health benefits.’

So, should other developers consider following this model? Here are six reasons why retirees should have a choice about keeping their pets.

1. They keep you active

According to Great Oaks, taking your dog on daily walks is good for you as you benefit from the fresh air and exercise. Great Oaks adds: “Studies have also shown that retirees with dogs are more likely to meet their recommended daily physical activity goals.”

2. They’re good for heart health

Stroking your pet can lower your stress, blood pressure and cholesterol levels. They also help to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.

3. They’re good company

While limited studies have been conducted in South Africa, studies do show that older people are vulnerable to social isolation. Pets, however, can improve social health as they force owners to get out and about.

Great Oaks points out: “They foster a sense of connection and often act as icebreakers in conversation. And lifelong pet owners can attest to the fact that it’s quite normal to have a conversation with your pet even when they don’t answer back.”

4. They can boost happiness

Studies show that owning a pet can boost your happiness. Being in the company of your pet can trigger a rise in oxytocin, which is known as the “love hormone”. A rise in oxytocin will put you in a good mood.

5. They can help you find love

According to research conducted by pet food manufacturer, Purina, your dog could be the perfect wingman. Their survey showed that 50% of people felt that their pets were beneficial in helping to strike up a conversation with someone they were interested in.

“Pets are the perfect companion and can open many doors for their owners,” said Dr. Zara Boland, Purina veterinarian. “Knowing that they can positively impact our social and romantic lives is just another great example of why pets and people are better together.”

6. They can make you feel more secure

While some retirees live in secure gated communities, keeping a pet can make them feel even more secure. While many retirement complexes aren’t in favour of people owning big dogs, it’s breeds such as German Shepherds and Rottweilers that are said to be some of the best at deterring threats and make owners feel safe.

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