Saint Clare’s Villa Residents and Their Pets
(June 21, 2012) – Having a pet – be it a dog, cat, rabbit, bird or gold fish – can be beneficial to your health and emotional well-being. Studies involving both children and adults have shown that petting a dog or even being in the presence of one lowers a person’s blood pressure, either at rest or under stress. And pet owners tend to live longer after a heart attack or other serious illness.
Residents at Saint Clare’s Villa with pets by their sides know all about those benefits. The Villa has housed several dogs, birds and cats since it opened 10 years ago.
“Pets offer an unconditional love and acceptance,” says Sister M. Anastasia, Director of Saint Clare’s Villa, a 64-unit supportive living facility for seniors ages 65 and older, located at 915 East Fifth Street inside Saint Clare’s Hospital. “If our residents want to have a pet, we welcome them at Saint Clare’s Villa!”
When Mary Hassler of Granite City searched for a supportive living facility five years ago, she couldn’t find any that would allow her to bring along her beloved Calico feline, Bonnie. Until she found Saint Clare’s Villa, that is. “The Villa was the only place in the area that would let me bring Bonnie. I wouldn’t leave my Bonnie behind,” she says.
Just down the hall from Mary lives Hanna Burford and her black tabby cat, Salem. The playful Salem has been her sidekick for five of the seven years she has been living at Saint Clare’s Villa. A dog and cat lover, Hanna says that “cats are easier to take care of and good companions.”
Caring for a pet requires an investment of time and energy, but the payback can be significant in terms of mutual bonding and the feeling of being needed. Some believe that the lower blood pressure enjoyed by pet owners can be attributed, at least in part, to this bonding. Walking a dog forces the owner into regular exercise and in some cases, exposure to a social network of other dog owners.
One study of seniors found that those with pets were more active in their daily lives. Another study found that pet owners maintained a higher level of self-care, which in turn was associated with better personal health.
In addition to accepting pets, Saint Clare’s Villa offers a variety of amenities and benefits for its residents, like free Wi-Fi, three meals a day, help with medication management and more. Residents are invited to participate in daily recreational, social and cultural activities that are planned, including health education programs. Saint Clare’s Villa offers a monthly newsletter and calendar to keep residents apprised of upcoming events, such as shopping trips, bingo, musical programs, pet therapy, themed parties and exercise classes. There is a chapel and daily Mass for all residents.
For more information about Saint Clare’s Villa, please call 618-463-9000.