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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


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


The problem of providing viable, functional housing options forthe older rural adult continues to be an intractable and crucialquestion which invites much attention and requires serious considerationby the older adults making housing decisions and the communitiesinvolved in the planning and policy making. This study used adescriptive qualitative and quantitative research design thatexamined the quality of life of older adults living in rural cooperativehousing. It examined relationships and identified the qualitiesthat existed among a set of variables within a census populationof older adults living in rural cooperative housing. The variablethat surfaced as the main influencing factor in selecting cooperativehousing was "easier maintained home". In addition, butnot to the same degree, variables "staying in the community";"help close by"; "handicapped accessible";"better financial investment"; and, "voice in theoperation" all had a major influence in the housing selectionprocess. Re-occurring themes in the focus group interviews addressingthe cooperative housing choice process was the "quest foran easier life", "home-free maintenance", and "cooperativespirit". Several variables showed an effect on the qualityof life of the cooperative residents: safety, happiness, lifesatisfaction, friend contact, ease in maintaining home, activitiesand independence. This study revealed that 70% of the cooperativeresidents lived previously in a small town or farming communitywithin 12 miles of the cooperative (82%) for a period of 26 -40 years (45%). Findings support two theoretical models of communityattachment: the linear-development model and the systemic model.Residents reported a better quality of life (66%) when comparedto their previous home; 94% would recommend the cooperative housingoption; and 98% would move to a cooperative if making the decisionagain. Identifying the variables that correlate to quality oflife helps gerontologists predict the future social and life temperamentof the older adult population. Will cooperative living facilitatesatisfying retirement years for older adults? When the rural dimensionis introduced, will the issue of where to house rural older adultscome into play? These questions will be concerns older adults,gerontologists, community developers and policy makers will needto explore in integrating rural older adults to local communities,increasing their quality of life, maintaining social structures,encouraging independence, and preserving "rurality".


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


Sincere appreciation is expressed to Terry McKinley, Presidentof the HOMESTEAD Housing Center who supported this project andfreely offered information about the HOMESTEAD operation. Muchregard is extended to the HOMESTEAD homeowners who promptly completedthe questionnaire and a warm thank you to those who welcomed meinto their lives/homes to share their housing experiences, theirhopes, and the quality of life they endure.

I express my sincere appreciation to the members of my dissertationcommittee, Dr. Jones, Dr. Spiegel, Dr. Conklin and Dr. McCaslin,for their guidance, encouragement, and willingness to see thisproject through to completion. Especially to Dr. Jones, adviserand chair of my doctoral committee, my deepest gratitude for herunderstanding, expertise, and total support which was always gratefullyreceived.

To Ohio State University Extension for allowing me the work flexibilityand financial support to make it possible to complete this projectand the opportunity to share the resources gained with Extensionstaff. I am appreciative of the George Gist Scholarship, OhioState University Extension Innovative Grant, Epsilon Sigma PhiScholarship, and Ohio Extension Agents Association Scholarshipwhich provided me with financial support to pursue each componentof this research project.

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

To Joyce Gerber and Kathy Moritz for the tireless hours of wordprocessing and formatting, and not to mention the patience demonstratedwaiting for text and then hurriedly meeting the deadlines withacceptance and precision.

To my children, Mikal and Patrick, thank you for helping witheach questionnaire mailing and for your fun company to those ruralMinnesota communities where you patiently helped with each interviewtaping. Mikal, your eagerness and conscientiousness in data enteringwas life-saving! I hope one day you both will look at this processas a learning experience that will facilitate a research projectyou may encounter.

Most importantly, to my husband Mike, who inspired me to undertakethis academic challenge and encouraged me along the way. Yourinterest, our brainstorming and inspiring discussions and yourvaluable assistance throughout this project has opened the doorto 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!


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


Major Field:
Agricultural Education

Minor Field:
Extension Education
Human Development, Gerontology



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


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



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 decisionto move to HOMESTEAD

4.2: Descriptive statistics of variables on the effects of cooperativehousing on respondents

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

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

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

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

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

4.8: Descriptive statistics of HOMESTEAD



3.1: Research design - quality of life among older adults in ruralcooperative 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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