Chapter 2 documents the literature addressing older adult housingconcepts, theoretical perspectives of successful aging and rural/urbandifferences. The chapter concludes with a comprehensive reviewof a few selected research studies.
"Home Sweet Home!" It is a term and a concept easilytaken for granted; few would find fault with the sentiment itexpresses. However, if thoughtfully addressed to the needs ofan aging society, it begins to take on far greater significance.For hidden deep in this simple clichÈ are implicationsof comfort, security, family, friendships, happiness, and independence.
In 1993 approximately 30 percent of all non-institutionalizedolder adults lived alone. However, the percentage of women livingalone was substantially higher than that of men; 43 percent ofwomen as compared to 18 percent of men. Even more significantperhaps is the fact that the number of older persons living aloneincreased by 68 percent between 1970 and 1994, about one and one-halftimes the growth rate for the older population in general (AARP& AoA, 1994).
In recent years, the focus in the area of housing for older adultshas been on maintaining what already exists and to make betteruse of existing housing resources through home-sharing, accessoryapartments, and home equity conversions. The trend was to meetolder people's housing needs through adapting existing communitiesand neighborhoods rather than through expensive housing programs(Newcomer, Lawton & Byerts, 1986).
The lack of adequate, affordable housing is a serious problemfor the older adult, particularly those who live in rural areas(Rowles, 1984). Census data indicates that 44 percent of the sub-standardhousing in rural America is occupied by persons 65 years of ageand older. In addition, at least 60 percent of older persons livingin rural communities occupy homes that were built prior to 1920(U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Census, U.S. Departmentof Housing and Urban Development, 1991).
The housing requirement for older adults, in general, are significantlydifferent than young adults, due to the progressive limitationsof the mobility, physical, social, and mental characteristicsof older adults over time (Golant, 1992). This creates seeminglycontradictory needs and demands, with the ability to maintainan active life. Cooperative housing is an alternative for olderadults who need and want comfort, security, family, friendships,happiness, and independence.
Older adults who move gracefully to retirement communities tendto be pragmatic planners who see the change as a necessary newbeginning (Blank, 1988; Brand & Smith, 1974). Much of thefollowing review of literature relating to the "whys"older adults move to communities boasting of better retirementcharacteristics support the theory that older adults want to maketheir own decisions, relieve their relatives of responsibilityand eliminate worry about future health and home care. Consequently,they reap new freedom to pursue activities they love, new friendsand often better health (Bull, 1993).
Theorist Ponsioen (1962) suggests that a society's first responsibilityis to meet the basic survival needs of its members, includingbiological, social, emotional, and spiritual components. Eachsociety, or the dominant group in each society, identifies a qualityof life level below which no individual or group should fall.These levels will change over time. Within this framework, socialneeds exist when some communities have a service or opportunitywhile other communities do not.
Maslow (1968) took a slightly different view and proposed theexistence of a hierarchy of need. Consequently, an individualbecomes aware of needs in a prescribed order from the lower levelof a pyramid progressing upward. Only when the lower needs aresatisfied can a higher need be addressed. A person cannot be overlyconcerned with safety and security until physiological survivalneeds of food and shelter are met. Only when all levels of needsare achieved can attention be directed to the need for love andself-actualization.
The need for achievement is manifested in the individual's tendencyto strive to accomplish particular tasks in order to generatepersonal satisfaction and contentment (Maslow, 1987). It involvescontinued struggle for knowledge and skills, and for explorationand mastery of the environment. Older adults exhibit a need forself esteem or self-actualization to exercise their influenceabout later life decisions.
Addressing the concerns of these early theorists has offered anumber of useful insights to assessing the needs of older adults.The needs of our aging society are diverse because of the verynature of the aging process and due to the diverse profile ofthe older population. Lifespan studies suggest that older peopleare more unlike each other than younger populations. Not onlydo people become more different from each other as they age, butthere are significant differences among the older adults in thispopulation called aging. The young-old, 65, are quite differentfrom the old-old, 85+, in personality, health, vigor and emotionalstability. Therefore, to address the quality of life and basicneeds of all older adults demands a clear understanding of thediverse physical, mental, social, environmental attributes ofthe individuals in later life (Altman, Lawton & Wohlwill,1984).
The needs of the older adult also vary with the particular groupstudied. Are the older adults rural or urban, married or nevermarried, male or female, low socio-economic or high socio-economic,high school education or no high school education, with childrenor without children? Furthermore, the older adults in the currentpopulation are healthier, better educated, more active and moreinvolved in community leadership roles than those counterpartstwenty-five years ago and will probably be just as different fromthose in the year 2020 (Stevens-Long & Commons, 1992).
Theoretical Perspectives of Successful Aging
Numerous theories have been suggested to help explain and understandolder adult behavior. These theories of the 1950s and 1960s lendsupport in describing why older adults respond to situations asthey do and lend credence to the reasons older adults choose particularhousing options. Two specific aging theories addressed in thisstudy are disengagement theory and activity theory.
The disengagement theory (Cumming & Henry, 1961) proposedthat older persons were happiest and most successful when theyacknowledged their declining capacities and began to look moreand more toward the end of life. It was felt that time and thedeclining pool of energy were best spent in roles that were specificallydifferent from other age-based roles and unique to old age (grandparentingand great-grandparenting) and in preparation for death. To enableolder persons to do these things without guilt and to allow societyto fill their former roles with younger, stronger workers androle-fillers, disengagement theorists felt it would be best tohave older persons segregated so that they could concentrate ontheir distinct needs and thoughts.
Many gerontological researchers and practitioners were opposedto the implications of the disengagement theory that older peoplewere on the other side of some distinct discontinuity from theirpasts and from other age groups ( Rose, 1965; Rosow, 1967; Havighurst,Newgarten & Tobin, 1968). Particularly, they were disturbedabout the negativity of the view of old age as little more thana time of waiting to die and the implication that older personswere incompetent to continue to be involved in the sorts of rolesthey had formerly filled so well (Havighurst, Newgarten &Tobin, 1968). Theorists opposing disengagement foundations, feltthat society had done little to provide the alternative rolesthat would be so important in society, instead leaving older adultswith "unmeaningful" roles (Rosow, 1967). These socialgerontologists felt that healthy older persons want to continueto live, act, and perform roles quite similarly to what they haddone as younger persons. This premise was referred to as activitytheory postulating that the best way to age successfully is tostay active and involved (Havighurst, Newgarten & Tobin, 1968).
While known for their competing philosophies, both emphasize theimportance of having roles to fill, specific activities and statusesin society that mark one as "worthwhile" (Lemon, Bengston& Peterson, 1972; Schaie & Willis, 1986). The two theories,however, proposed different ways to insure that older adults feltworthwhile in the roles they assumed. Both disengagement and activitytheories lend support to the cooperative housing concept but fordifferent reasons.
Disengagement theorists may view cooperative living as a placewhere older persons would do distinctively different things fromyounger persons and perform a set of unique roles. It may be promotedas a setting to assure a continuity of roles for older personsand be seen as a way to enhance roles and activities of olderpersons. Encouraging a person to move into a totally differenthousing situation might appear to be an ineffective way to providecontinuity with one's past life. There is, however, a logic toit, although that logic is rooted in an "ageism" beliefthat activity theory shares with disengagement theory--older personsare less able than younger adults to compete for and fill thewide variety of roles needed and valued by our society.
Activity theorist agree that if older persons remain living andworking alongside others, they would suffer because the leadershiproles and central roles of society would be handed over to youngerpersons. Cooperative housing would provide new opportunities tofulfill the same kind of roles as before without having to competewith those of other age groups. As older adults grew older, theybecame more peripheral, less pivotal actors as the number of settingsin which they were involved diminished (Barker & Barker, 1961).
What is particularly interesting about the background of the disengagementand activity theories is that two major theories about successfulaging do not share many similarities but both lend support tothe concept of cooperative living and the social importance ofthe growing aging population. In the 1950s and 1960s, when Americansociety was ready to address some of the big issues about howto assist older adults and insure their successful aging, disengagementand activity theorist were ready with answers. The answer wasto provide age-segregated settings where older persons could congregateas a unit, become an important voting block, and fulfill all theirneeds. Simultaneously, their withdrawal from the main societyallowed their essential roles and positions in society to be availableto members of more recent birth cohorts (Rose, 1965; Messer, 1967;Schooler, 1969).
Theoretical Perspectives on Rural and Urban Differences
Many researchers have studied several sociological frameworksaddressing rural-urban differences and examined and defined theirrelationship to rural-urban controversy. The conceptual frameworksdiscussed in this section are: (a) classical theory, (b) deterministtheory, (c) compositional theory, and (d) subcultural theory.
Classical theory (Toennies, 1957) focuses upon the conceptof a societal continuum separated into two basic kinds of socialrelationships or two ways in which people relate to each other--gemeinschaft(community) and gesellschaft (society). Gemeinschaft is definedas a sense of mutuality, common destiny, common bond and obligation.In contrast, gesellschaft identifies the means-end relationshipwhere each individual is serving his own personal interest. Toennies(1957) felt that both relationships most commonly existed at thesame time; but, gemeinschaft best characterized the small ruralcommunity and the latter was more prevalent in the city.
Determinist theory (Fischer, 1976) debates that urbanism boostspersonality and social disorders more so than those found in ruralcommunities. These psychological factors and social structuralchanges encourage social disorganization and disintegration (e.g.,crime, mental health). Conversely, rural residents in secure communitiesare less likely to encounter such problems.
Compositional theory (Fischer, 1976) denounces the effects ofurbanism and credits the rural-urban differences to the formationof the different populations. Compositionalists do not believe,as their determinist counterpart, that urbanism weakens small,primary groups. They argue that ecological factors, such as size,density, and heterogeneity, do not have important repercussionfor personal social structures. Instead, this theory proclaimsthat nonecological factors, such as social class, ethnicity, andlife stage influences the dynamics of social life. Financial status,cultural characteristics, and marital/family structure are theprimary factors of an individuals' behavior.
Subcultural theory (Fischer, 1976) compromises both thedeterminist and compositional concepts. It believes that urbanismindependently affects social life by helping to create and strengthenthese social groups. City populations allow development of suchgroups as delinquents, professional criminals, alternative lifestylesand it is the members of these groups who interact with and supporteach other (Davensport & Davensport, 1984). Therefore, incontrast to the determinist's view of discouraging social groups,the Subcultural theory argues that urbanism encourages socialgroups or subcultures.
Each theoretical orientation falls into the evolutionary continuumof sociology. With the improved communication and transportationsystems, urban and rural differences are less pronounced. Bothecological and nonecological factors are important determinantsof behavior. Researchers conclude that caution should be madewhen supporting a theory because differences will occur in conceptualizingan outcome in the controversy of rural versus urban (Ponsiaen,1962; Schulz & Brenned, 1977; Davensport & Davensport,1984; Stevens-Long & Commons, 1992).
Age-segregated housing, or sometimes referred to as congregatehousing, clusters older adults into a single setting separatingthem from other age cohorts. This concept does not include housingfor individuals oriented toward medical care or assisted livingcare but is directed to older adults in relatively good healthand capable of caring for themselves (Donahue, Thompson &Curen, 1977; U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development,1979; Lawton, 1980). In most cases studied, age-segregated housingincluded provisions of at least some level of service such asdining room for congregate meals, security, lounge areas, laundryfacilities, transportation, hair-care services.
Although the social gerontologists and planners of the 1950s and1960s seemed to feel that age-segregated communities were theanswer for the masses of older persons, there is much more realizationtoday that age segregation is by no means for all, or even most,older adults (Lawton, 1977, 1985). Older adults continue to livein the wider, "age-integrated" community because thatis where they want to be and are capable of being.
It should be noted that virtually every study examining life satisfactionand age-segregated housing concluded that residents of congregatehousing find it a very satisfactory housing situation. In general,age-segregated housing seemed to lead to better quality of life.Factors such as independence, friendships, services and safetyoften surfaced as high indicators of life satisfaction among theolder adult residents in age-segregated housing (Sherman, 1972;Lawton & Cohen, 1974; Carp, 1975; Malozemoff, Anderson &Rosenbaum, 1977; U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development,1979; Chellis, Seagle & Seagle, 1982; Golant, 1985; Hinrichsen,1985; and numerous others). Some barriers that surfaced with theage-segregated housing is that it may perpetuate the ageism notionthat one is "old" and one is "different".This ageism view is quite pervasive and influenced the image ofage-segregated housing as nursing homes with total institutionalquality. Some researchers state that age segregation can reducethe level of activity among adults while reducing independence(Jacobs, 1974; Lawton, 1985). An often neglected factor in age-segregatedhousing is site placement and neighborhood characteristics whichresidents reported as important (Wireman & Sebastian, 1986).
There is considerably less research on rural living than on urbanliving both in the gerontology field and in the housing field.Only in more recent years have researchers examined in detailthe relationships rural elderly have to their environment, includingtheir homes (Rowles, 1984; Coward & Lee, 1985; Krout, 1986;Atchley, 1988; Rogers, Burdge, Korsching & Donnermeyer, 1988;Stevens-Long, 1992). Many studies describe older adults in ruralareas as having the advantage of a slower pace of life, a senseof identity, recognizable in the community, and exhibiting lowerlevels of complexity. Studies in the 1960s and 1970s showed themost important two benefits of rural living were the stabilityof rural life and the inter-generational structure (Coward, 1979;Lee & Lassey, 1980; Nelson, 1980). Family and friends werein the rural neighborhoods and able to take responsibility ofolder adults complementing the role of social services assumedin more urban areas. In more recent years, families in rural areas,as in other segments of the country, have become more fragmented.As a result, rural older adults may not have the family assistance;social services are likely to be inconvenient; and, transportationassistance is near nonexistence.
Quality of housing for many older adults in rural communitiesis lower than the average (Lee & Lassey, 1980, Nathanson,1980; Bull, 1993) These older adults spend a large percentageof their income on housing (AARP & AoA, 1987). The particularhouses in which older adults live are often old, significantlyolder than the average age of U.S. housing (Struyk & Soldo,1980). Since the homes are older, they may lack many of the modernconveniences aiding in the comfort level and quality of life amongthe older adult residents. Rural homes are more likely than theirurban counterparts to be located in communities hosting the oldestinfrastructure. Infrastructure includes such aspects of the physicalenvironment such as inadequate sewers, poor streets and sidewalks,no water lines, limited access to community services, etc. aggravatingunhappy and stressful homeowners (Lee & Lassey, 1980; Nathanson,1980; Struyk & Soldo; 1980; House Select Committee on Agingand Senate Special Committee on Aging, 1987; Bull, 1993). In retrospect,studies continue to show that older adults want to remain in thecommunity to which they have become accustomed, regardless ofthe structural housing factors, location, or infrastructure issues.
Older Adult Cooperative Housing
If the word "cooperative" were to be construed narrowly,it may be thought that a cooperative housing development shouldcome into existence only because some people, in need of an apartmentor home would decide to pool their resources and develop for themselvesthe housing they need. But the great majority of cooperativesbegan through altruism, not self-help; they began because a groupof citizens, full of good-will, wished to help others get a decentapartment or house at a price they could afford (Liblit, 1964).
Research is extremely sparse in the area of cooperative housingand even more so when the quality of life and older adult variablesare added to the mix. One main theme that seems to surface inthose existing works is that housing cooperatives have been mostsuccessful when sponsored and developed by public service agencies.The benefits of this consumer-oriented approach to developmentare housing costs, quality of construction and design, and smoothoperations (Liblit, 1964). These public service agencies addressland purchase, architectural design, financing, incorporation,organization, and construction which are issues most individualsfind difficult to master. Sponsors may include insurance companies,churches, private foundations, and community developers.
Cooperative housing is not limited to the United States. It hasmade far greater advances in Europe than it has in this country.As the cooperative housing movement grows and new developmentscome into the picture, the need for exchange of information, reviewof common problems and joint action becomes apparent. The NationalAssociation of Housing Cooperatives was established in 1950 toserve as a catalyst for cooperative development, and to representand advance the interests of housing cooperatives throughout thecounty. It represents housing cooperatives, professionals, organizations,and individuals promoting the interests of cooperative housingcommunities. The Association is the only national housing cooperativeorganization (National Association of Housing Cooperatives, 1993).
Frichette (1972) and Bourdeau (1976) found that financial benefitwas a major determinate in students selecting cooperative housing.Students selecting the cooperative housing option tended to holdmemberships in more youth groups, 4-H and church, than non-cooperativepotentials identified in Bourdeau's study. Lack of privacy andlack of awareness of the cooperative housing option emerged asthe major barriers with student residents (Bourdeau, 1976).
Housing cooperatives have succeeded in bringing back the spiritof neighborliness and community that had begun to disappear frommany low and middle income areas in large urban areas (Liblit,1964). Cooperatives create feelings of permanence and sociability.According to the National Association of Housing Cooperatives(1993), three million people have chosen to live in cooperativehousing units in the United States. These housing cooperativesvary from small, family-style homes to large, multi-story apartmentbuildings. They also vary considerably in their equity structuresand level of resident involvement. Cooperatives exist for housingof students, older adults, individuals, and families.
Studies conducted on senior housing cooperatives suggest thatthe participatory nature of cooperatives enhances the qualityof life of the residents. Cooperative members showed participatorymanagement leads to greater satisfaction and well-being amonghome owners, particular those who choose to become involved inthe management of their cooperatives (Van Ryzin, 1992).
Since its conception in 1991, the HOMESTEAD housing boasts of"independent living for rural seniors." HOMESTEAD Cooperativesare both one and two-story multi-family buildings with servicesdesigned for older adults in rural communities. HOMESTEAD Cooperativesinclude full-sized apartment homes with kitchens, extensive communityfacilities, storage, attached garages, and gardens. Existing HOMESTEADSrange in size from 16 to 31 homes, and are located in Minnesotaand Iowa. Each Cooperative is sponsored, through leadership andmatching seed capital, by local organizations and individualscommitted to improving housing choices for older adults. Cooperativemembers, as shareholders, are the owners of the building and grounds,and govern its operations.
In a study conducted at three HOMESTEAD Cooperatives, resultssuggested that residents were very pleased with cooperative living(Altus, 1995). Ninety-seven percent of survey respondents saidthat they would recommend their cooperative to others and 81%indicated they would prefer the cooperative to their previousliving arrangement. In parallel, 97% of respondents shared a positiveeffect on their personal safety and 92% indicated a positive effecton life satisfaction. The major reason surfacing as to the reasonfor moving to HOMESTEAD was the individuals wanted a home thatthey could care for more easily. In addition, 69% of respondentswanted a home with disability-accessible features. Common themesthroughout the HOMESTEAD survey were a need to live in an environmentwhere their needs could be met as they grew older, privacy andopportunity for socializing, security, and convenience (Altus,1995).
Appendix A, "What is the Cooperative Concept", outlinesfour components: ownership, governance, social, and accessibility(Nolan & Nolan, 1996). Cooperative housing programs are developedto enhance independence of the rural older adult population. Seniorsremain in their community supported by people with concern fortheir well-being, and live in a home designed to meet their needs.
A HOMESTEAD resident shares:
" ... The housing center is organized to help rural communitiesimprove local housing so that elders, like me, need not move fromtheir home, family, church, and community when a large single-familyhousing becomes too cumbersome for us" (HOMESTEAD HousingCenter, 1994, page 2)
Comprehensive Review of Selected Studies
Goudy (1990) conducted a correlational research study which focusedon two theoretical models of community attachment: the linear-developmentmodel and the systemic model. The linear-development model (Kasardaand Janowitz, 1974) indicated population size and population densityas key variables in determining community attachment. Whereas,the systemic model (Park & Burgess, 1921; Janowitz, 1967)emphasized length of residence, position in the social structure,and stage in the life cycle as important variables in communityattachment.
Goudy used a data set from a 1975 study involving 27 Iowa communitiesfrom six adjacent counties varying in population size from 200to 32,000 residents. The sample involving 4,627 residents wasderived from a population frame of residents on telephone andutility lists. A 78% rate of return was achieved from the mailquestionnaire. Community attachment was measured by social bondsand local sentiment questions and local sentiment was measuredby questions soliciting sense of community, interest in community.Both measures were used by Kasarda and Janowitz (1974) in theirstudy of community attachment. Findings revealed a stronger correlationfor the systemic variables in relationship to the local socialbonds and sentiments and less significant correlation of the linear-developmentvariables. Friends and people known were important indicatorsof sense of community and sorrow about leaving. Length of residencewas positively related to each social bond with strongest relationshipswith friends, relatives, and people known. Length of residencewas more strongly related to the dependent variable than was incomeand age. Consequently, a longer term of residence in the localcommunity, higher social standing, and older adults (age) leadto a greater sense of community, and more sorrow when forced tothink about leaving, and greater interest in local affairs. Forexample, those residing in the community for 21 years or longerwere more positive in their assessments of sense of communityand expressed greater sorrow if they should have to leave. Thetwo linear-development measures showed significant relationshipto friends and people known in the community. Greater densityand larger community size related to fewer people known in thelocal community.
In summary, the systemic model received greater support in analysisof both social bonds and sentiments than did the linear-developmentmodel. Goudy cautioned that the strength of the systemic indicatorsdid vary from community to community in their sample of 27 communitieswhich may indicate that attachment could be influenced by variablesfunctioning differently in each community.
Hong and Duff's (1994) study focused on the low life satisfactionof widows. Hong and Duff used a data set from earlier studiesby the same researchers. (Duff & Hong, 1992; Duff & Hong,1993). This correlational study was based on existing theoriesand findings in gerontology (Havighurst, Neugarten, & Tobin,1968; Palmore, 1970; Duff & Hong, 1982, 1993). These theoriescontended that variables such as community context, quantity and/orquality of social interactions are vital to the life satisfactionof older adults and married couples. From this original data set,the study subsampled 233 widows in Oregon and California who livedalone and reported good to very good health. The median age was78 and median income was $20,000. The dependent variable, lifesatisfaction, was measured by Liang's (1984) 11-item scale. Theindependent variables were community context, frequency of insideparticipation, frequency of outside participation, frequency ofseeing friends, frequency of seeing children, age, years of widowhood,and income.
The findings concluded that community context, frequency of participationin group activities inside the community and frequency of seeingfriends were the strongest predictors of widows' life satisfaction.Findings showed that in communities with fewer marrieds, the widow'sscore was high in satisfaction, 60%; conversely, those communitieswith married majorities had 45% widows with scores high in satisfaction.Very little variance was found in recent widows compared to thosewidowed for many years. In widow majority communities, 74% ofthe widows saw their friends daily or more than once a week ascompared to 57% of the widows in the married majority community.In conclusion, Hong and Duff, linked community context and socialinteractions to widow's life satisfaction.
Klein's (1993) convenience sample of sixty-four older adults infour Midwestern Senior Citizens centers explored home and lifesatisfaction variables. Of the sixty-four older adults who volunteeredto participate in the project, 69% were females, 51% were widows,and median age was 73 years. The study explored individual characteristicsassociated with personal home and life satisfaction among olderadults. The goodness-of-fit model (Lawton & Nahemow, 1979)was the theory supported in this research study stating that whenthe resources of the individual are adequate to meet the challengesof the home, the person can live a safe and satisfying life .Data was collected from a personal information sheet and six scalesrelated to home satisfaction, life satisfaction, health, and aspectsof psychosocial. Health was found to be positively related tohome satisfaction and it was also the best predictor of home satisfaction.Self-esteem was the only psychosocial variable examined that exhibiteda significant correlation with home satisfaction. Those olderadults who felt good about themselves also felt good about theirhome situation. Home satisfaction did not show a significant relationshipto either locus of control or social support; however, the self-esteem,social support, and locus of control variables all showed a relationshipwith life satisfaction in that order of importance. In contrastto many studies, health was not a strong predictor for life satisfaction.Klein suggests from the findings that positive self-esteem maybe a determining factor for older adults to implement needed changesin homes, thus contributing to their satisfaction and qualityof life.
O'Brien, Hassisnger, and Dershem's (1994) study researched therelationship between community attachment and mental depressionin a sample survey of 296 individuals in two Midwestern ruraltowns. A stratified sample procedure was used to select an equalnumber of households from each town. Each town had similar populationsbut differed in complexion. One was strictly rural with farmsand agriculture-centered businesses. The second town representeda variety of businesses and availability to services was higherthan town number one. The researchers hypothesized that a weaksense of community attachment would be associated with higherlevels of depression symptoms among rural residents. Depressionwas measured with a modified version of the CES-D scale (Radloff,1977) appropriate to determine relationships between communityattachment and general mental stress. Community attachment wasmeasured by four-item statements used in an earlier study of O'Brienand Hassinger (1992). Respondents checked a seven-point scalein the extent they felt that their community was an ideal placeto live, were satisfied with the community as a place to live,had a lot in common with other people living in the community,and felt like they fit in the community. The study did show arelationship between community attachment and mental depressionin rural communities. When variables strongly associated withdepression and independent of community attachment (such as health,age, and social networks) were controlled the analysis showedstrong support of the stated hypothesis. O'Brien, Hassinger, andDershem (1994) concluded by stating, "rural residents' concernswith preserving the local community are not merely reflectionsof romantic visions but rather are rooted in measurable effectsof community attachment on personal well-being (page 263)."
Willitis, Bealer, and Timbers, V. L. (1990) statewide telephoneand mail survey was conducted with 1,881 Pennsylvania residentsexploring popular attitudes about rurality. The author used arandom-digit dialing procedure to reach a cross section of householdsthroughout the state. The telephone interview gleaned demographicinformation about respondent, focused on the positive images ofrurality, and assessed respondent's attitudes about rural life.The attitude assessment focused on Gemeinschaft images of rurallife and rural people. Telephone participants were asked to respondto a follow-up mail questionnaire as a means of securing a morecomplete representation of the popular attitudes about rurality.A total of 1,670 individuals agreed to participate in the mailsurvey and 1,241 actually completed and returned the form. Theresearchers used a Likert-type questionnaire using rural and urbanstereotype statements such as "rural communities are themost satisfying places to live, work, and play", "rurallife is monotonous and boring", "urban life is complex,fast-paced, and stressful", and "rural life brings outthe best in people". The findings concluded that the respondentswere "overwhelmingly likely" to view the various aspectsof rurality in positive statements and to reject the negativeimages of rural life. The researchers coined the term "ruralmystique" to reflect this imaginary image of rural life.This research supported the existence of the rural mystique amongpeople in the general population and that these people expresseda greater life satisfaction for rural living to a greater degreethan those who actually live rural, also a high level of expressedlife satisfaction. Cities tended to be viewed negatively by rural,urban, and suburban residence categories and all three categoriesoverwhelmingly rejected negative rural images. The researchersconcluded that these positive images of rurality contribute tohow Americans regard rural places, people, and things and whysociety needs to recognize the potential value of this rural mystiqueas it relates to life satisfaction
This comprehensive review of studies describes the most currentresearch found addressing a variable(s) of satisfaction and itsrelationship to home location/community attachment/home satisfactionin addition to other influencing variables. Independent variablesvaried from health, depression, satisfaction, location, to qualityof life variables. Because of the few studies which actually focuson the rural older adult, research on older adults in generalmust be used as support literature to hypothesize correlationsand relationships with life satisfaction and community attachment.
Goudy's (1990) research gave good theoretical defense by identifyingthe systemic conceptual model as a framework emphasizing the variables- length of residence, position in the social structure, and stagein the life cycle - as important influences in community attachment.In addition, since few studies examine rural and urban differences,the term community attachment (Goudy, 1990; O'Brien, Hassinger,& Dershem, 1994) is introduced to help draw references tolocation. Granted, assumptions must be made when drawing researchtogether as a support system to hypothesize, but correlationscan be cautiously stated and contradictions openly shared. TheWillitis's paper introduces the "rural mystique" conceptwhere Americans supported the strong positive images of rurallife and an entry that lended much strength to the life satisfactionand community attachment relationship. Willitis's study documentedextensive research on residential preference for rural living.While this study drew upon data from a single state, Pennsylvania,it seemed likely (random sampling in part) that the acceptanceof positive images of rurality, farming, and open-country areaswould be evidence in other states as well, varying in degree.This reservoir of positive feelings about rural community attachmentcontributes to the reasoning that rural older adults have a greatersense of satisfaction when using community attachment as a dependentvariable.
Early scholars, such as Toennies (1957) and more recent researchers(Goudy, 1990; Klein, 1993) explored rural locations as a markeddisadvantage to older rural adults in terms of health, economicstatus and other known antecedents of emotional well-being. Inthese same studies, variables with higher levels of social integrationamong older residents compensate for the above marked differencesresulting in higher levels of well-being. With the exception ofKlein, none of the studies held all extraneous variables constantwhen measuring for satisfaction making it difficult to determineif variables strongly associated with satisfaction and independentof community attachment showed strong support to research study.Klein (1993) showed self esteem level, health status, degree ofsocial support, and control of life decisions the best predictorsof the variable life satisfaction.
All research studies shared in this comprehensive review of literatureused some type of random sampling when selecting the sample groupand large sample sizes were used in all cases contributing tolow alpha levels of errors. Random sampling contributed to externalvalidity which strengthened the ability to generalize to designatedtarget populations. The research studies examine demographic variablesof older adults and make correlations with life satisfaction orsimilarly defined variables.
There are some exceptions to the argument in support of this researchproject's objectives. First, the enormous diversity of rural communitysettings in America cannot be reflected completely in the communitiesstudied in the identified research. Second, the instruments usedin all the studies differ. Reliability accounts on all the instrumentswere high but certainly using the same instruments throughoutwould greatly enhance the argument in support. Third, variationof life satisfaction and community attachment variables were studied.Fourth, two extraneous variables, this author feels may be strongpredictors of life satisfaction - SES and health - were measuredin only two of the studies, perhaps a limitation.
The objective of this review of literature was to lend strengthto several interests currently being explored by this investigator:
1. Why older adults choose to move in cooperative housing?
2. What effects does living in rural cooperative housing haveon older adults?
3. What are the personal characteristics of older adults livingin rural cooperative housing?
4. What is the quality of life of the HOMESTEAD residents.
The argument in support of the research - are theresimilarities between the factors that influence rural older adultsto select rural cooperative living and quality of life variables- offers many implications in older adult research. Identifyingthe variables that correlate to quality of life helps gerontologistspredict the future social and life temperament of the older adultpopulation. Will cooperative living facilitate satisfying retirementyears for older adults? When the rural dimension is introduced,will the issue of where to house rural older adults come intoplay? These questions will be concerns older adults, gerontologist,community developers, and policy makers will need to explore inintegrating rural older adults to local communities, increasingthe quality of life, maintaining social structures, encouragingindependence, and preserving "rurality".