Defense Date


Graduation Date

Spring 2007


Immediate Access

Submission Type


Degree Name



Counselor Education and Supervision (ExCES)


School of Education

Committee Chair

Jocelyn Gregoire

Committee Member

Emma C. Mosley

Committee Member

Lisa Lopez Levers


assisted living, ecological transition, older adults, older adults and relocation, older adults and transition, transition


The population of older adults in the United States is growing rapidly, and in response to demographic changes, a new housing market for elders known as assisted living is emerging as the fastest growing segment of the senior housing arena. While the impact of the transition to institutional facilities has been examined thoroughly in settings such as nursing homes, little is known about the influences of a late-life transition to assisted living (AL) on American elders. Using a phenomenologically oriented approach, this qualitative investigation examined the lived experiences of assisted living residents as a means of adding to the literature about the key developmental issues for elders and making recommendations for human services professionals who work with this population. The results of the investigation reflect fairly consistent findings about the reasons that elders move to assisted living. Health problems contribute much momentum to the transitioning process, as, it seems, do Western cultural values on individualism. The findings illuminated environmental concerns about social disconnectedness and a lack of challenging and meaningful activities within assisted living communities that have the potential to act as barriers to AL residents' positive development. Another concern for elders who relocate to assisted living is the potential loss of autonomy when real and perceived opportunities for self-initiated decisions are not readily available to residents. The results also provided evidence that opportunities for personal enhancement, relationship development, and community service are possible for elders who live in assisted living. These factors, which contribute positively towards human growth and development in the late-life stage and which confront cultural stereotypes about older adults and the aging process as a period of decline, are bolstered when older adults are in autonomy-supportive environments, have opportunities to forge meaningful relationships, and engage their sense of competence.