Independent Living Retirement Facilities: The Effect of Push and Pull Factors on Residential Satisfaction
Reynolds, Sandra G. Jr.
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Wants and needs for housing change over time as events occur (such as marriage, raising families, career promotions) that cause adults to re-examine their living environments. As people age, this reassessment continues, and alternative housing options may be considered. One housing option that is available to older adults is an independent living retirement facility. The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between motivations for moving to independent living retirement facilities and subsequent satisfaction with that environment. The sample for this study consisted of residents of townhomes leased to older adults for age-segregated living in a planned retirement community, with health care amenities on site. The research was conducted in two phases: focus groups were convened with residents of this facility, and a self-administered instrument was developed and sent to all 94 residents of the townhomes. The instrument measured the influences on moving and residential satisfaction on a four-point Likert scale. The data were analyzed using descriptive statistics, correlation analysis, and multiple regression. follow-up postcard, for a response rate of 84%. There were twice as many women as men in the sample group, and it was evenly divided between married-couple and widowed households. The average age for the residents was 78 years. They were well-educated older adults, and the majority had prior occupations in professional and managerial sectors. The influence on moving that received the highest number of positive responses (>2.5 on a Likert-type scale) was to maintain independence, followed by being free of home maintenance, and the knowledge that health care needs would be taken care of in the future. The residents were satisfied with their overall housing and neighborhood environment, especially with their neighborhood. They were less satisfied with maintenance of the facility and with the management. Two influences on moving emerged as having a positive relationship with residential satisfaction: preference for a homogeneous (age-segregated) community, and a desire to move closer to friends and family. The variables that significantly predicted residential satisfaction were (a) a preference for a homogeneous community, (b) a desire to move closer to friends and family, and (c) the pull of the macroenvironment (i.e., features available, or inherent, in the nearby vicinity of the retirement community that act as pulls, such as mountains, a nearby university, or a rural area), which had an inverse relationship to residential satisfaction. Four individual components of residential satisfaction (housing, neighborhood, maintenance, and management) were analyzed for predictors of satisfaction. One variable predicted housing satisfaction (homogeneous community), none predicted neighborhood satisfaction, five predicted satisfaction with maintenance (environmental concerns, homogeneous community, macroenvironment, future support, and family and friends), and three predicted satisfaction with management (homogeneous community, family and friends, and macroenvironment). The latter three predictors were the same predictors of residential satisfaction, emphasizing a strong relationship between management and residential satisfaction.
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