Companion animals, older adults, aging-in-place, community services, affordable housing


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.

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