A qualitative study about perceptions of lifestyle and life satisfaction among older adults

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Teaching and Leadership


Roger Hiemstra


Adult education, Continuing education, Gerontology

Subject Categories

Adult and Continuing Education and Teaching


If people are expected to live longer, what will be the quality of that extended life? This question became the major focus of the dissertation. An important aspect of successful aging is looking at the concept of life satisfaction. A primary goal was to address the conceptual understanding of life satisfaction as found in the literature. I discovered that a variety of life satisfaction definitions were possible depending on an individual's perception of control or lack of control over life events.

Twenty nine older adults ranging in age from 65 to 95 were interviewed and observed as the source of data for the qualitative study. These people were located in three settings including: a residential home for the elderly, family homesteads, and Elderhostel programs at a local college.

A four cell model was developed to display the relationship between high or low life satisfaction and an individual's perception of internal or external control. A result of this analysis was the development of some generic characteristics related to those persons in each cell.

Implications for caregivers and the elderly themselves were offered. Special attention was given to adult educators who plan and execute programs in lifelong learning. Understanding the diversity of older adults as displayed in each cell could help caregivers respond better to the diverse needs and interests of this population.


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