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EXAMINATION OF THE QUALITY OF LIFE AMONG OLDER ADULTS LIVING IN RURAL COOPERATIVE HOUSING



DISSERTATION



Presented in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for
the Degree Doctor of Philosophy in the
Graduate School of The Ohio State University

Jill Eversole Nolan, B.S., M.S.

*****


The Ohio State University

1997





Dissertation Committee:

Jo M. Jones, Ph.D., Adviser
Nikki L. Conklin, Ph.D.
N. L. McCaslin, Ph.D. Adviser
Marilyn A. Spiegel, Ph.D.

Copyright by

Jill Eversole Nolan
1997




ABSTRACT


The problem of providing viable, functional housing options for the older rural adult continues to be an intractable and crucial question which invites much attention and requires serious consideration by the older adults making housing decisions and the communities involved in the planning and policy making. This study used a descriptive qualitative and quantitative research design that examined the quality of life of older adults living in rural cooperative housing. It examined relationships and identified the qualities that existed among a set of variables within a census population of older adults living in rural cooperative housing. The variable that surfaced as the main influencing factor in selecting cooperative housing was "easier maintained home". In addition, but not to the same degree, variables "staying in the community"; "help close by"; "handicapped accessible"; "better financial investment"; and, "voice in the operation" all had a major influence in the housing selection process. Re-occurring themes in the focus group interviews addressing the cooperative housing choice process was the "quest for an easier life", "home-free maintenance", and "cooperative spirit". Several variables showed an effect on the quality of life of the cooperative residents: safety, happiness, life satisfaction, friend contact, ease in maintaining home, activities and independence. This study revealed that 70% of the cooperative residents lived previously in a small town or farming community within 12 miles of the cooperative (82%) for a period of 26 - 40 years (45%). Findings support two theoretical models of community attachment: the linear-development model and the systemic model. Residents reported a better quality of life (66%) when compared to their previous home; 94% would recommend the cooperative housing option; and 98% would move to a cooperative if making the decision again. Identifying the variables that correlate to quality of life helps gerontologists predict the future social and life temperament of the older adult population. Will cooperative living facilitate satisfying retirement years for older adults? When the rural dimension is introduced, will the issue of where to house rural older adults come into play? These questions will be concerns older adults, gerontologists, community developers and policy makers will need to explore in integrating rural older adults to local communities, increasing their quality of life, maintaining social structures, encouraging independence, and preserving "rurality".


DEDICATION

To My Husband, Mike
To My Daughter and Son, Mikal and Patrick
And to All the Older Adults Living in Rural Communities
Struggling with Housing Decisions



ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

Sincere appreciation is expressed to Terry McKinley, President of the HOMESTEAD Housing Center who supported this project and freely offered information about the HOMESTEAD operation. Much regard is extended to the HOMESTEAD homeowners who promptly completed the questionnaire and a warm thank you to those who welcomed me into their lives/homes to share their housing experiences, their hopes, and the quality of life they endure.

I express my sincere appreciation to the members of my dissertation committee, Dr. Jones, Dr. Spiegel, Dr. Conklin and Dr. McCaslin, for their guidance, encouragement, and willingness to see this project through to completion. Especially to Dr. Jones, adviser and chair of my doctoral committee, my deepest gratitude for her understanding, expertise, and total support which was always gratefully received.

To Ohio State University Extension for allowing me the work flexibility and financial support to make it possible to complete this project and the opportunity to share the resources gained with Extension staff. I am appreciative of the George Gist Scholarship, Ohio State University Extension Innovative Grant, Epsilon Sigma Phi Scholarship, and Ohio Extension Agents Association Scholarship which provided me with financial support to pursue each component of this research project.

To Annie Berry for her statistical assistance, notes of encouragement and support, and hours of mentoring me through the statistical process.

To Joyce Gerber and Kathy Moritz for the tireless hours of word processing and formatting, and not to mention the patience demonstrated waiting for text and then hurriedly meeting the deadlines with acceptance and precision.

To my children, Mikal and Patrick, thank you for helping with each questionnaire mailing and for your fun company to those rural Minnesota communities where you patiently helped with each interview taping. Mikal, your eagerness and conscientiousness in data entering was life-saving! I hope one day you both will look at this process as a learning experience that will facilitate a research project you may encounter.

Most importantly, to my husband Mike, who inspired me to undertake this academic challenge and encouraged me along the way. Your interest, our brainstorming and inspiring discussions and your valuable assistance throughout this project has opened the door to exciting housing options for older adults in rural communities. You were always there with a vote of confidence, a welcomed embrace, and frequent reality checks!

VITA


August 31, 1952 : Born in Ashland, Ohio

1974 : B.S., Home Economics Education,
College of Home Economics,
Ohio State University.

1976: M.S., Home Economics Education,
College of Education,
Pennsylvania State University.

1976-1979: Extension Agent, 4-H
Cooperative Extension Service
Ashland County

1979-1988: Extension Agent, 4-H
Cooperative Extension Service
Huron County

1988-1993: Extension Agent, Family and Consumer Sciences
Department Chairperson
Ohio State University Extension
Erie County

1993-present: District Specialist, Family and Consumer Sciences

Ohio State University Extension, Northeast District


FIELDS OF STUDY


Major Field:
Agricultural Education

Minor Field:
Extension Education
Human Development, Gerontology
Statistics

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Chapters:

1. Statement of the Problem
2. Review of Literature
3. Methodology
4. Findings
5. Summary, Conclusions, and Recommendations


Appendices:

A. "What is the Cooperative Concept?"
B. Focus Group Interview Question
C. Focus Group Interview Invitations
D. Focus Group Interview Reply
E. Focus Group Interview Letter of Confirmation
F. Focus Group Interview Thank You
G. Questionnaire
H. Panel of Experts
I. Human Subject Review
J. Questionnaire Cover Letters
List of References



LIST OF TABLES


Table

3.1: Personal characteristics of FGI participants, N = 38

3.2: Test-retest reliability coefficients for questionnaire

3.3: Davis convention for interpreting measures of associations

4.1: Descriptive statistics of the variables relating to the decision to move to HOMESTEAD

4.2: Descriptive statistics of variables on the effects of cooperative housing on respondents

4.3: Descriptive statistics of census population of older adults living in rural cooperative housing

4.4: Descriptive statistics on education and income level of older adult living in rural cooperative housing

4.5: Descriptive statistics of previous home among older adults living in rural cooperative housing

4.6: Descriptive statistics for the "quality of life" and "cooperative" dimensions

4.7: Correlation coefficients for the variables cooperative, life quality, location, years, gender, marital status, age, education, income, and miles

4.8: Descriptive statistics of HOMESTEAD


LIST OF FIGURES


Figure

3.1: Research design - quality of life among older adults in rural cooperative housing

3.2: HOMESTEAD gender, population characteristics

3.3: HOMESTEAD marital status, population

3.4: HOMESTEAD education, population characteristics

3.5: HOMESTEAD age, population characteristics

4.1: Distribution of quality of life values

4.2: Distribution of cooperative values

4.3: Quality of life/gender comparison

4.4: Cooperative/gender comparison


(C) Copyright by Jill Eversole Nolan 1997
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