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The relationships between older, physically impaired men and their pets

By Jennifer Hughes Williams

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The present study examined older male adults' lived experiences with pet ownership. There is robust literature on older adults and the human-animal bond, but presently there are no qualitative phenomenological studies that focus solely on older physically impaired males who live alone and the relationships they have with their pets. With the guiding framework of biopsychosocial theory and using intensive interviews, 10 older males (65+) who suffered from some physical impairment discussed the relationships they have with their pets, and how their companion animals affect their physical, emotional, and social health. All interviews were transcribed, coded, and analyzed for themes. The results showed that the participants believed they could care for their pet despite their physical limitations. The themes and subthemes that emerged from the interviews were companionship, responsibility, plan for death of owner, routine, focus on animal instead of self, physical benefits despite physical limitations, worry about falls, emotional support, and social connections because of the pet. The present study provides new information about changes in the social behaviors of the older male adult in relation to his pet, where the pet aids the individual in relating to other people. The research results may benefit researchers, healthcare workers, and geriatricians who work with the population of older adult, physically impaired, males. The results demonstrate the need for understanding the relationship of the older male adult and his pet and suggests that pets may help the older males increase their socialization.


Marcy Wilhelm-South

Purdue University

Date 2018
Pages 178
Department Psychology
Degree Ph.D.
URL https://scholarworks.waldenu.edu/dissertations/4953/
Language English
University Walden University
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Animal roles
  2. Human-animal bond
  3. Males
  4. Older adults
  5. open access
  6. peer-reviewed
  7. Pet ownership
  8. Pets and companion animals
  1. open access
  2. peer-reviewed