Department or Program



As housing options for the elderly continue to expand, understanding how residential settings affect older people’s lives is important. Although the literature suggests that two notions, belonging and agency, are fundamental to experiences of the environment in later life, limited research has examined the nuances of these constructs in senior living communities. This multiple-case study explored how residents, staff, and physical spaces contributed to conceptualizations of community (i.e., belonging) and independence (i.e., agency) in two independent living facilities. Participant-observation, semi-structured interviews, and focus groups were used to understand how residents and staff perceived and negotiated these forces in their everyday lives. Data analysis revealed that four interrelated themes were shared across both sites. Overall, the themes indicated that notions of independence were consistently embedded within physical, social, and individual experiences of community. Implications for researchers, practitioners, and the elderly in independent living, both locally and nationally, are discussed.

Level of Access

Restricted: Campus/Bates Community Only Access

First Advisor

Aronson, Krista

Date of Graduation

Spring 5-2016

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science

Components of Thesis

1 PDF file


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