The main objective of the research was to determine how owning a pet improves the lives of older adults in society. The research hypothesis was related to the assumption that there is a strong link between acquiring a pet and an older adult’s level of intimacy, depression, physical activity and social interactions. A random sampling technique was used to ensure that the data collected from the research was accurate. Participants were strategically selected to ensure that there was gender equality rather than basing the research on one gender. The other important aspect considered when selecting the participants is inclusivity to provide data on how different cultures view their relationships with pets. The study population was order adults between 60 to 85 years, with the study covering participants living in varying family setups. Basing the research on senior citizens created immense challenges because about 21% of people above 60 years are not proficient in English. Lack of English literacy made it difficult for them to respond to the questionnaires.
Location and Time of Interview
The interview was conducted at Timber Creek Pooch Park in Blackwood, New Jersey, on the weekend. The location was strategically located because it encourages people to visit with leashed or unleashed dogs. It was important to interact with the elderly as they took their dogs to the park to have fun because it allowed data collection through non-verbal and verbal cues. The other important factor that informed the decision to base the interview at Timber Creek Pooch Park is that older adults love spending their time at parks and stores. The parks offer them an opportunity to exercise and bond with their pets which is vital for improving their health. While most of the older citizens are pensioners selecting weekend offered an opportunity to observe how they interacted with young dog lovers. Most people rest on the weekends and choose to spend their leisure time at the parks. In essence, choosing to conduct the study in Timber Creek Pooch Park on the weekend was crucial in achieving the best results.
Description of the Participants
The research involved two older adults: a White male and the other an elderly African American woman. The White older adult’s name was Thompson, while the African American woman was Jenifer. Jenifer was sixty years and owned one of the leading grocery shops in New Jersey. She owned a beautiful Chihuahua dog and loved taking it to the park during the weekends. Her bond with the dog could not be overlooked as she loved and cherished it like a toddler. Thompson was a pensioner and spent most of his time at home with his German shepherd. He viewed the dog as his best friend and took it for walks at the park two times a week. The dog offered him the opportunity to interact with other people and pets whenever he visited the Timber Creek Pooch Park.
Making the Interview a Success
The success of the interview process was of high priority making it essential to implement the relevant guidelines. The first step that was taken to guarantee the success of the study was applying excellent communication skills. Effective interviewers convey information clearly to the participants and listen carefully to their responses (Sala 418). Throughout the interview, the respondents were asked probing questions while paying attention to their non-verbal clues and body language. In cases where the respondents illustrated discomfort through facial expressions on the questions asked, it was essential to quickly move on to the next question. The second step was ensuring that all the respondents were treated with the utmost respect. While at the park, elderly citizens desire to rest and have fun with their pets; therefore, it was important to ensure that the interview process did not disturb their peace. Lastly, it was vital for the interviewees to remain comfortable throughout the process and the primary strategy used was avoiding embarrassing questions that drive the respondents away.
Positives and Negatives of the Interview
Most parts of the interview process were a success because they helped in collecting sufficient data for analysis. Firstly, the interview offered an opportunity to interact with the older adults who were out to have fun. Spending time with the older adults was a fantastic experience because of the fantastic stories they tend to have regarding their lives. The study participants were friendly and approachable, which made it easier to collect the relevant data. They would even go further to document their life journey and the factors that drove them to acquire the dogs as their pets. However, the interview process was not without challenges and obstacles that had to be overcome. For example, some of the older adults between 60 and 85 years lacked English literacy, which made it difficult to fill the questionnaire. The challenge was overcome by asking oral questions and helping them fill the forms.
Themes from the Interview
The interview process was helpful in understanding how owning a pet improves the lives of older adults. Some of the main themes drawn from the study include emotional bond with dogs, enhanced happiness, a sense of purpose, and reduced loneliness. The main determinants of the quality of life enjoyed by the elderly include intimacy, depression, physical activity and social interactions (Soósová 487). Pets are essential in helping older citizens alleviate depression which enhances happiness and boosts their quality of life. All the respondents indicated that owning a pet made them feel happier about themselves and life. For example, one of the participants indicated that he lived a lonely life before acquiring the pet, which increased his anxiety and depression. Depression significantly affects the quality of life of the elderly, making pets important in improving their situation. For the respondents acquiring a dog was a life-changing decision that they will always make them happy.
The dog transformed his life because it offered him much-needed company in his life. For example, the dog offered him company and encouraged him to visit new places like the Timber Creek Pooch Park. Regular walks with his dog at the park trail were vital in keeping fit because they acted as a form of exercise. The other important lesson from the interview is that owning a pet is one of the best strategies for improving the health of older adults. Older adults suffer from illnesses such as diabetics and high blood pressure, whose remedy is exercising (Soósová 488). Owning a pet encourages them to go out to parks which is vital in improving their emotional and physical health. In essence, the interviewees showed that owning pets was one of the main reasons they had high-quality happy lives.
Sala, Emanuela, Jonathan Burton, and Gundi Knies. “Correlates of obtaining informed consent to data linkage: respondent, interview, and interviewer characteristics.” Sociological Methods & Research 41.3 (2012): 414-439.
Soósová, Mária Sováriová. “Determinants of quality of life in the elderly.” Cent Eur J Nurs Midw 7.3 (2016): 484-93.