Situational factors related to loneliness and loss over time among older pet owners

West J Nurs Res. 2013 Aug;35(7):905-19. doi: 10.1177/0193945913480567. Epub 2013 Mar 18.


Loneliness occurs in people of all ages but can be particularly debilitating in older adults. In this population, there are many factors that enter into the loneliness-loss pathway. The purpose of this study was to examine the interrelations of situational factors, coping, and pet attachment that affect loneliness in 191 older adults who experienced loss over time. Data showed that loneliness was lower among study participants who lived in 55 and over residences than private residences, those who experienced loneliness due to loss, those who reported lower coping, and those who reported higher pet attachment. The results of this study suggest that nurses working with this population need to evaluate loneliness by means of situational factors such as living arrangements. Nurses should also examine the effects of loss over time and discuss coping mechanisms, including the benefit of pet relationships in this vulnerable population. Implications for nursing are addressed.

Keywords: coping; loneliness; loss; older adults; pet attachment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Bereavement*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Loneliness*
  • Male
  • Pets*