Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Gerontology Institute

First Advisor

Dr. Heying Jenny Zhan - Chair

Second Advisor

Dr. Mary Ball

Third Advisor

Dr. Molly Perkins


Little is known about the impact of senior multipurpose facilities on the quality of life of African American elders. This thesis examined the context of African American elders’ participation in these facilities. Qualitative methods were used. Fifteen in-depth participant interviews, one facility program coordinator interview and eighteen weeks of participant observation were completed. The principles of grounded-theory method were used during data analysis. Findings reveal that racial experiences played an important role in participants’ sense of community. Female and male participants engaged in different types of activities. While some participants reported physical improvements, all participants recounted social and emotional benefits as a result of participation. Participation at the facility facilitated the construction of new self identities. This study increases the knowledge of African American seniors’ participation in senior multipurpose facilities. It also provides data to generate research questions for future comparative studies in predominantly black and white senior multipurpose facilities.


Included in

Sociology Commons