Undergraduate Honors Thesis Projects

Date of Award


Document Type

Honors Paper

Degree Name





Dr. Robert Kraft

First Committee Member

Dr. Robert Kraft

Second Committee Member

Dr. Michele Acker

Third Committee Member

Erica Van Dop


older adults, happiness, social support networks, senior living, assisted and independent living facilities, geriatrics

Subject Categories



As the elderly population continues to grow, the importance of gaining knowledge on how assisted and independent living facilities affects residents’ psychological, social, and physical well-being also continues to grow. This research looked at how the structural difference of independent and assisted living facilities (the integration of living and recreational areas between different levels of assisted residents) affect residents’ social support networks and happiness in independent living as compared to assisted living. A qualitative analysis was used to determine other important themes about the well-being of these older adults.

The two facilities used in this study included Friendship Village, which does not integrate living and recreational areas, and Oakleaf Village, which does integrate living and recreational areas. To complete this research, participants from these two facilities completed an interview as well as a happiness questionnaire. Interviews were tape recorded, transcribed, coded, and compared with the results of the happiness questionnaire.

Quantitative analysis concluded independent living residents at Friendship Village were significantly happier than independent living residents at Oakleaf Village and across both independent and assisted living, participants at Friendship Village were significantly happier than participants at Oakleaf Village. Qualitative analysis found multiple themes during interviews including relocation, socialization, physical health, finding meaning in life, and opinions of other residents. This study has been able to continue building knowledge and information about the older adult population. There is, however, a need for more answers on the influence the physical structure of independent happiness.

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Psychology Commons