The effects of residential relocation on health among very old community -dwellers

Pei-Chun Chen, Purdue University


Residential relocation allows aged individuals to improve the quality of their physical and social environments and also provides them with supportive care as health declines. Previous research has shown that residential relocation has inconsistent impacts on health status among older adults living in the community. Failure to consider the effect of various reasons of move and other important variables such as housing and social support may help explain the inconsistency. The purpose of this dissertation is to find out how residential relocation influences older adults' functional health, which is an indicator of being able to live independently in the community, and their self-rated health, which reflects their overall status. ^ This dissertation applies person-environment theory to explain how residential relocation affects health among older adults in the community. In other words, both personal and environmental factors, such as demographic, health status, social support, and housing and neighborhood characteristics are considered in the multivariate analysis. Two national surveys---The Longitudinal Study of Aging (LSOA; 1984-1990) and The Asset and Health Dynamics Among the Oldest Old (AHEAD; 1993-2000)---are used to examine differences in health outcomes between movers and non-movers who are all age 70 and over and live in the community. ^ The first study, which use LSOA data, focuses on how residential relocation and the subjective motivation of relocation influence objective activity of daily living (ADL) and instrumental ADL (IADL) limitations. The findings show that residential relocation is associated with a short-term increase in ADL and IADL limitations. This short-term negative effect is only experienced by older adults who move for subjective health reasons. ^ The second study examines the impact of relocation on Nagi functional limitations in AHEAD data. Tracking the subjects' functional health over time, this study finds that there are significant differences between the functional limitations of very recent movers and non-movers. Consistent with the first study, the negative effect of residential relocation does not last long once personal and environmental variables are taken into account. ^ The third study also uses AHEAD data to analyze the effect of residential relocation on self-rated health. There is no significant effect of residential relocation on self-rated health except the earliest move is associated with improved self-rated health. Previous health and the change of housing condition are critical to health outcomes in the second and third study. ^




Major Professors: Janet M. Wilmoth, Purdue University, Kenneth F. Ferraro, Purdue University.

Subject Area

Gerontology|Sociology, Demography

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