Graduation Year


Date of Thesis Acceptance

Spring 5-10-2017

Major Department or Program



Michelle Y. Janning


Through in-depth interviews with seniors in an assisted living home, this thesis explores how seniors describe and experience quality of life, autonomy as it relates to quality of life, and romantic relationships as they relate to both autonomy and quality of life. Using Goffman’s theory of the asylum (1961) and Atchley’s continuity theory (1989) as my theoretical framework, I conducted in-depth interviews of seniors in an assisted living home to best understand the nuance in which seniors describe, talk about, and experience their quality of life, autonomy, and romantic relationships. Some of my many findings are that there are more influences on seniors’ quality of life than previously described (Custers et al. 2012), that participants described instances of low and high quality of life together, and that a described diminished sense of autonomy does not necessarily contribute to a described diminished quality of life, contrary to previous findings (Meyer and Roseamelia 2007; Plath 2008). Seniors in romantic relationships are willing to compromise some of their autonomy for their spouse, which does not necessarily lead them to describe a lower quality of life, and those widowed or divorced used autonomy to actively decline or seek out romantic relationships. My findings informed my policy recommendations in the hope that seniors will benefit from this thesis.

Page Count


Subject Headings

Assisted Living Facilities, Quality of life, Autonomy, Older people -- Relationships, Man-woman relationships, Erving Goffman, Robert C. Atchley, Walla Walla (Wash.), Whitman College -- Dissertation collection 2017 -- Sociology Department

Permanent URL

Document Type

Public Accessible Thesis

Included in

Sociology Commons



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