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Best in Show: Nursing Student Explores Senior Living and Pets

 

For immediate release
Date:    2002
Contact:   nscomm@uw.edu

When UW undergraduate nursing student Kate Malkin was doing her first round of clinical training at the Veteran's Administration in Seattle, she was surprised to learn that their extended care facility allowed residents to bring in pets. Malkin went for a visit, and sure enough met a friendly dog sauntering across the hallway.

"My grandmother always had a dog," she explains. "And when my grandfather died, that dog became her closest friend. I cannot imagine her living without it."

With an undergraduate research scholarship from the de Tornyay Center on Healthy Aging at the School of Nursing, Malkin began investigating the feasibility of taking pets along when seniors move into retirement communities. Her mentor, Assistant Professor of Nursing Brenda Zierler, herself a dog lover, helped Malkin do background research and then develop a strategy for finding out what communities in the Seattle area take pets, and what potential residents should look for before they sign up.

"It was not as prevalent as I had hoped," Malkin says. "The assisted living facilities that accept pets tend to be more expensive, $2200 - $2400/month, and that doesn't include a pet deposit fee of about $500. And many of these only take small pets."

Malkin also discovered that many facilities that say they take pets offer little protection for the consumer once they have moved in. "It would be very difficult for an older person to make the move into assisted living with their pet and then find out the policy has changed," she says. "It's important to read the fine print on their pet policy."

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The University of Washington School of Nursing is consistently the nation’s No. 1-ranked nursing school, according to U.S. News & World Report. Ranked No. 3 in research funding from the National Institutes of Health, the UW School of Nursing is a national and international leader in improving the health and well-being of individuals, families and communities. The school addresses society’s most pressing challenges in health care through innovative teaching, award winning research and community service.