Human animal studies, psychological well-being, grounded theory, lesbian, older adults


This qualitative study investigated the perceived impact of companion animals on the psychological well-being of lesbian women over age 65. Twelve women, ranging in age from 65-80, were interviewed with a semi-structured interview guide. Four thematic findings are highlighted: love and attachment, animals in transitional spaces, challenges and rewards of caregiving, and preparation for death. The author offers the term "relational ecology" to explain how animals contribute to well-being. This integrates the growth task model of human development, object relations theory, liminality, and deep ecology.

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