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When 'Places' Include Pets: Broadening the Scope of Relational Approaches to Promoting Aging-in-Place

By Ann M. Toohey, Jennifer A. Hewson, Cindy L. Adams, Melanie J. Rock

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Aging-in-place is a well-established concept, but discussions rarely consider that many older adults live with pets. In a ‘pet-friendly’ city, we conducted semi-structured interviews to explore perspectives of community-based social support agencies that promote aging-in-place, and those of animal welfare agencies. Applying a relational ecology theoretical framework, we found that pets may contribute to feeling socially- situated, yet may also exacerbate constraints on autonomy experienced by some older adults. Pet-related considerations at times led to discretionary acts of more-than-human solidarity, but also created paradoxical situations for service-providers, impacting their efforts to assist older adults. A shortage of pet-friendly affordable housing emerged as an overarching challenge. Coordination among social support and animal welfare agencies, alongside pet-supportive housing policies, will strengthen efforts to promote aging-in-place in ways that are equitable and inclusive.


Marcy Wilhelm-South

Purdue University

Date 2017
Publication Title Journal of Sociology & Social Welfare
Volume 44
Issue 3
Pages 119-145
ISBN/ISSN 0191-5096
Language English
Additional Language English
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Aging
  2. Animal roles
  3. Communities
  4. Housing
  5. Older adults
  6. open access
  7. Pets and companion animals
  1. open access