St. Louis, MO. (December 1, 2020) – Friendship Village Chesterfield has two new four-legged visitors at the senior living community, 15201 Olive Boulevard, Chesterfield, MO 63017. The dogs are part of its new pet therapy program, which is designed to provide companionship and bring smiles to residents’ faces during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. The dogs’ visit not just the residents, but also the staff members who look forward to spending time with them.
The senior living community welcomed Edgar, a French Bulldog puppy, and Angus, a rescue Australian Cattle Dog mix, earlier in the year. When not on campus, Edgar and Angus live with Friendship Village Community Life employees.
Pet therapy has been a widely accepted form of therapy for all ages, including seniors. Research has shown that when people spends as little as 15 minutes with an animal the brain increases serotonin and in turn decreases stress levels. Something community leaders felt would be particularly helpful to residents during the pandemic. And according to the Mayo Clinic, pet therapy has also been shown to help people recover or better cope with health problems such as heart disease, cancer, and mental health disorders.
While the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) state that the virus can’t be passed between humans and canines, Friendship Village staff members make sure to sanitize each dog’s travel case and toys between resident visits and make sure social distancing, mask wearing, and hand washing protocols are done when Angus and Edgar are interacting with residents and staff members.
To help get Angus out and about in the community, a Friendship Village staff member takes him on scheduled visits to residents’ apartments, to group visits, and to see other staff members. A few minutes with Angus and staff members notice that residents and Angus feel happier and more relaxed. Not only can these dogs provide a mood boost to residents, but they can offer a level of companionship that Friendship Village’s visitor restrictions don’t allow at the moment due the virus.
With Edgar being a puppy, his quirky personality, and ears bigger than his head, has made him particularly popular among residents. The residents in skilled nursing in particular have a soft spot for Edgar and some even request he ride with them as they go to and from appointments. Edgar even has scheduled playdates with a Villa resident’s senior dog. In addition to being extra cute and very friendly, the Friendship Village team wanted to welcome a French Bulldog to the community because the breed is known for being quiet and low energy, which meant it was unlikely to jump on or startle residents.
“Having Angus and Edgar on campus really has been a blessing. We have noticed not only a positive mood increase among residents, but with our staff members, too, says Carmen Fronczak, Executive Director at Chesterfield. “With COVID-19 affecting our visitor policies, the dogs have made a huge impact in bringing that companionship our residents are missing.”
Friendship Village is committed to ensuring its residents are taken care of not just physically, but mentally and emotionally. To learn more about Friendship Village’s promise to keep residents living independent, longer and to schedule a private tour, visit FriendshipVillageSTL.com or call 636-255-8281 for the Chesterfield campus or 314-730-3902 for the Sunset Hills campus.