Year of Publication

2006

Document Type

Dissertation

College

Public Health

Department

Gerontology

First Advisor

Graham D. Rowles

Second Advisor

John F. Wilson

Abstract

The decision to relocate or to age in place can be a difficult one, mitigated by a variety of influencing factors such as finances, physical abilities, as well as social and instrumental support from family and others. This study focuses on the stresses of residential relocation to independent and assisted living facilities among older women living in Lexington, Kentucky. Participation entailed three semi-structured interviews as well as saliva and blood sampling over a period of 6 months, beginning within one month of the move. Measures of cortisol were used as indicators of stress reactivity. Distinct patterns of cortisol response have been identified, with those who indicated the relocation was the result of health issues or anticipated health issues showing the greatest degree of physiological stress reactivity. The majority of women reveal satisfactory psychosocial adjustment, with women indicating the move was facilitated by need for caring for ailing family showing the least amount of facility integration. Significant life events appear to be related to social integration, stress reactivity, and perceptions of facility life over the course of the first six months in residence. These results have implications for facility managers with regard to facilitation of new and prospective resident acclimation and possible interventions aimed at reducing adaptation time among those on waitlists for such facilities.

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