Highgate at Flagstaff Pet-friendly Concept Includes Pet Care Plans

You may have heard of a care plan, but have you heard of a pet care plan?

Highgate at Flagstaff Pet-friendly Concept Includes Pet Care Plans

Ron and Michele knew it was time to move into a senior living community, but they couldn’t bear the thought of parting with their pups. At Highgate at Flagstaff, a pet-friendly assisted living community, they don’t have to.

“We chose Highgate at Flagstaff for a couple reasons,” the couple says. “With Michele’s diagnosis and my recent back surgery, we knew it was time to downsize from our home. Our kids were excited about Flagstaff because they went to Northern Arizona University but mostly because Highgate is a dog-friendly community.”

In the past, moving to an assisted living or memory care community usually meant seniors had to part with their four-legged friend. Not only would many of these pets end up in shelters, but the separation was also distressing to the pet owner. 

Fortunately, an increasing number of senior living communities — including Highgate — recognize the benefits pets bring to seniors and offer pet-friendly environments.

“We’re all about empowering seniors to live life to the fullest,” says Highgate at Flagstaff Executive Director Leslie Blum. “Pets not only enhance the life of the resident, providing them love and purpose, but they enhance the lives of everybody in the community.”

Benefits of Pets for Seniors

Research shows pets can offer seniors some pretty powerful physical and mental health benefits, from improving their social lives and keeping them active to alleviating depression and adding purpose. 

One study found that pet owners were 60% more likely than non-pet owners to get to know people in their neighborhoods they hadn’t known before. This can be true in a community setting, like assisted living, as well. Having a pet opens the door for social interaction, acting as “social lubricants” for seniors who may not be outgoing individuals by nature. Pet owners often become friends themselves, with the topic of their pets breaking the ice and starting discussions.

Pets can also help older adults get the exercise they need. Research shows that dog owners on average walked 22 minutes more per day compared to people who didn’t own a dog.

One of the biggest benefits of pets for seniors is that pets can provide a sense of purpose and boost self-esteem because they need and rely on their owners for virtually every aspect of their care. Having a pet can give new meaning to the lives of older adults, who may begin to feel a diminished sense of purpose due to the gradual changes in social roles that accompany increasing age. Not only do pets give seniors a purpose, but they also enhance their self-confidence and self-esteem, providing them a way to feel useful and responsible for something. This can help reduce stress and alleviate depression as well.

These benefits are why some assisted living communities not only allow pets but also offer pet therapy for seniors.

Pet-friendly Assisted Living Communities

Pet-friendly senior living communities like Highgate at Flagstaff understand the many benefits pets offer older adults. Allowing residents to bring their pets with them can not only help ease the transition to senior living but also improve the quality of their lives.

Pet-friendly communities typically allow cats, small- to medium-sized dogs, and other small pets. Some communities have a weight restriction, limiting the pets to small birds, cats, dogs, fish, or rabbits, and other communities only allow pets on a case-by-case basis.

Some assisted living communities also offer pet therapy. Also known as animal-assisted therapy, pet therapy is a technique that uses animals to interact with seniors for numerous reasons to help improve their quality of life. Pet therapy is recognized by the National Institute of Mental Health as a viable option for treating depression and other mood disorders. Research shows that pets can boost levels of serotonin, the feel-good hormone, and reduce cortisol, the stress hormone and that just 15 minutes spent bonding with an animal promotes positive changes within the brain.

Pet Care in Senior Living Communities

At Highgate at Flagstaff, there are also team members who help residents care for their pets to ensure the health and happiness of both the seniors and their pets. Owning a pet is indeed a big responsibility, and caring for an animal is a lot of work. Many aging pet owners find themselves unable to care for their animals.

“We create a care plan for our pets when their loved ones are no longer able to care for them,” Blum says. “That could be taking them for a walk every two hours, cleaning the litter box, making sure they have fresh water.”

Choosing Highgate’s Pet-friendly Environment

Ron and Michele chose Highgate at Flagstaff because it’s a pet-friendly community.

Pets and pet therapy are part of Highgate at Flagstaff’s holistic approach to wellness. We believe that people live healthier and happier lives when they care for their mind, body, and spirit. So, at Highgate, we get to know each person as a whole and focus on wellness and prevention, not just managing illness and treating disease. We help residents focus on their strengths, achieve personal goals, and live their values through this holistic approach with massage, medication management, pet therapy, and aromatherapy, among other modalities. 

Download Highgate at Flagstaff’s Signature Programming brochure to learn more about our holistic approach to wellness, Purposeful Living philosophy, five-star dining program, and Positive Approach to Memory Care.

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