For animal lovers of all kinds, pets are family. When we welcome pets into our homes we invite the never-ending joy they bring along with them, as well as their unconditional love. The Hearth at Drexel’s pet friendly senior living demonstrates an unquestionable happiness that these beloved animals bring to the community. And the impact they have on the people who call this wonderful place home is equally unmistakable.

A proud member of Liberty Lutheran’s family of services, located on the beautiful Main Line in suburban Philadelphia, The Hearth at Drexel has a well-earned reputation for quality, comfort, and security. “I truly love it here,” says resident Marilyn Steward, who lives in her cozy assisted living apartment with her much-loved cats, Goldie and Silvery.

pet friendly assisted living
Marilyn and her cat, Silvery

“The people who take care of me are absolutely wonderful, and the food- The food is delicious!” Marilyn exclaims with a smile on her face thinking about what’s on the menu for later.

Marilyn says she can’t speak highly enough about the care she receives at The Hearth, “I enjoy living here very much. I have my own apartment and of course, my kittens! It’s wonderful having them here,” she smiles as her cat, Goldie, jumps onto the sofa and sits beside her. Marilyn pets Goldie’s yellow fur and you can see the special connection they’ve formed while living at The Hearth.

The benefits of pet friendly senior living for older adults

Assisted living at The Hearth distinctly sets itself apart from other senior living communities not just for their well-known elegance and luxury, but for another amenity that keeps animal-loving residents smiling every day. Pet friendly senior living at The Hearth demonstrates a shared understanding throughout the community that pets are just as much family as people.

For seniors especially, pets have the exceptional ability to bring a sense of familiarity that carries the feeling of home with them wherever they may go, and this is certainly the case for resident, Elizabeth Clarke.

Pet friendly senior living at The Hearth: Elizabeth Clarke and her cat, Chloe

pet friendly assisted living
Elizabeth Clarke and her cat, Chloe, at The Hearth

Elizabeth Clarke moved to The Hearth in 2016. Elizabeth has been a nun for many years, and prior to coming to The Hearth, Elizabeth’s community of sisters allowed her to return to her family home in Winchester, Massachusetts. There, she lived with her father, her mother, and her mother’s cat, Cocoa. Elizabeth greatly enjoyed helping her mother take care of Cocoa, and after her parents passed away, she gladly became Cocoa’s new owner. After selling her family home, Elizabeth and Cocoa moved to the town of Rockport, where she remembers the beautiful ocean breeze and large fishing port nearby. Cocoa the cat lived with Elizabeth in Rockport for a number of years before she sadly passed away.

“It was very difficult for me because Cocoa was originally my mother’s cat. Saying goodbye to her was like saying goodbye to a part of my mother as well.” Elizabeth says remembering the companionship Cocoa brought to both her and her mother.

It wasn’t long after Cocoa’s death that Elizabeth decided she’d like to have another cat. That’s when she went to a local no-kill shelter and met Chloe. A woman who worked there placed the sweet kitten in Elizabeth’s arms and she knew instantly that Chloe was the one she wanted to take home.

It took no time at all for Chloe and Elizabeth to form a very special bond. She loved taking care of Chloe, but as time passed and Elizabeth began to lose her vision, the realization hit that maybe Elizabeth needed someone who could take care of her. Although Chloe provided companionship as a pet it became increasingly difficult for Elizabeth to live alone in Rockport. She called her community of sisters and one of the nuns came to town to visit.

“I don’t think I can do this anymore,” Elizabeth told the nun explaining the challenges of living alone. Elizabeth, who was beginning to lose her vision, could no longer drive herself to the grocery store, and the last thing she wanted to do was potentially hurt someone by causing an accident.

“I think you should live at The Hearth,” the nun told Elizabeth.

“What is The Hearth?” Elizabeth asked.

The nun told Elizabeth that The Hearth was a beautiful assisted living community where she could have her own apartment with access to quality care. She went on to explain her reasoning.

“You can bring Chloe,” said the nun.

Elizabeth let out a deep sigh of relief as if an overwhelming weight lifted from her shoulders. She smiled at the nun with great satisfaction and agreed The Hearth would be her and Chloe’s new home.

“I don’t know what I would do if I had to give my beloved Chloe away,” says Elizabeth, “I knew it was likely that I might have to.” Elizabeth frowned at the thought. “When sister told me The Hearth welcomed pets and that Chloe could come with me, I was so happy.”

Chloe and Elizabeth moved to The Hearth together in September of 2016, and they’ve been thrilled to call it home ever since.

“Chloe loves it here,” Elizabeth says as she lovingly watches Chloe lay in a cardboard box that Elizabeth saved just for her, knowing her cat would like it as a cozy place to lay. As much as Chloe loves the pet friendly senior living at The Hearth, The Hearth loves her equally in return.

“She immediately became a hit here.” Elizabeth says referring to Chloe as her cat mews from inside her cozy cardboard retreat. Both staff and residents at The Hearth continuously ask Elizabeth how Chloe is doing, to which Elizabeth always happily responds, “She’s doing very well.”

Walk from Elizabeth and Chloe’s apartment on the East side of The Hearth to Marilyn Steward’s cozy abode on the West, where you’ll find, Goldie and Silvery, her beloved feline friends ready to greet friendly visitors.

“The name Silvery comes from the pretty strand of silver running through his black fur,” Marilyn says as she explains the history of her cat’s eclectic namesake. Marilyn got Goldie and Silvery from the SPSCA where she says they were playmates.

pet friendly assisted living
Marilyn’s cat, Silvery in her apartment at The Hearth

While currently sharing her pet friendly senior living apartment with cats, Marilyn has been a lover of all kinds of animals her entire life. She remembers bringing home a wild duck once as a child, and she grew up with dogs and cats in her family home. “My sister moves in with her cat Stanley very soon!” she says with excitement as she mentions yet another resident and pet The Hearth is happy to welcome into the community.

Pet friendly senior living brings joy to both residents and staff

It’s clear that pet friendly senior living at The Hearth makes residents very happy, and the staff will be the first to note the lasting impact these animals have on their beloved owners. Community Life Coordinator at The Hearth, Sarah Hayes, discusses residents who live with pets, and how living with an animal gives them a sense of purpose.

“The people who live with pets here still feel like they have a duty and responsibility, which is rewarding for them. The daily tasks of feeding the pets, and taking care of them definitely keeps residents’ quality of life high,” Sarah nods her head thinking about the benefits these pets bring to the community and the residents who live here.

“The residents feel that they are needed. This pet needs their care and attention, and that makes them feel good. It’s just a nice way for them to feel important and also have a little companion there to cuddle and hug whenever they want.”

Although relatively new to The Hearth, Sarah has been working with the senior population for over six years, and has been involved in recreation since she was 16. “I’ve been here for a month or so and I never run out of good things to say about the people here and the community as a whole.” Talking more about the pet friendly amenities and activities at The Hearth, Sarah mentions their pet therapy specialist who visits the community twice every month.

“She brings guinea pigs of all different sizes and colors. There’s some with long hair, some with no hair at all. She even brings this adorable bunny who has the softest brown fur.” Sarah goes on to describe the benefits these pet therapy sessions provide for residents,

Pet therapy really reduces their stress. You can see how happy it makes them when they sit with a little guinea pig in their lap.”

Sarah mentions another volunteer who brings her certified companion dog, Daisy. “Daisy is so cute. She goes around and visits residents in their apartments. I can see how comfortable and at home it makes the residents feel. It’s really nice.”

The benefits of pet friendly senior living are wide spread for residents, staff, and the community. For residents who own a pet before moving in, it gives them great relief to know that their furry friend who’s more like family can stay with them. And for those who want to own a pet even after moving in, it’s equally as comforting. Pets bring residents in assisted living the comfort of companionship as well as familiarity and a feeling of fulfillment. Their unconditional love and connection fills the community with continuous hope and joy. If you’d like to learn more about pet friendly senior living at The Hearth as well as other wonderful amenities offered at this community click here.

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