Date of Award


Document Type

Scholarly Project

Degree Name

Master of Occupational Therapy (MOT)


Occupational Therapy

First Advisor

Sclinda Janssen


Aged; Health Promotion; Independent Living; Needs Assessment


Most older adults prefer to age in place where they are more likely to experience greater health benefits and cost savings as opposed to living in skilled care facilities. Literature supports the role of occupational therapy in community-based wellness programming that helps older adults age in place; however, there is a need to conduct needs assessments to inform wellness program topics and activities. This study explores health and wellness needs of older adults living in a low-income, senior housing complex in order to inform current health and wellness programming provided at this site.

Researchers used a non-experimental, cross-sectional survey study design addressing the needs of community-dwelling older adults who have low incomes across 2015 and 2016. The data were analyzed using a mixed-methods approach. Quantitative methods, in the form of SPSS, were used to develop descriptive statistics, Spearman's rho, Pearson’s Correlation, Mann-Whitney U-test, and Non-Parametric Independent t-test. Qualitative methods were used to address the additional wellness program information in the 2016 survey. Thirty-one residents, ages 63 to 87 years old, living in a low-income, senior housing complex participated in the survey.

Results of the survey indicated that physical, mental, and social health factors influence overall health, while dietary health is not correlated to overall health in this specific population. The most significant finding of this survey was the correlation between boredom, social health, and overall health. Participants who indicated they regularly experience boredom and social isolation had poorer social health, which correlated significantly with poor overall health.

The influence of boredom and social isolation on overall health represents the need for occupation-based wellness programming and justifies a significant role for occupational therapy in community-based wellness programs. It is imperative that occupational therapists conduct needs assessments at wellness program locations in order to address the specific needs of the populations served.

As aging in place is becoming more prevalent, this study focuses on the needs of older adults as they were addressed by a needs assessment. This information was then specifically used to guide the current health and wellness programming by occupational therapists at a low income housing complex for older adults. This study highlights the importance of occupational therapy’s role in health wellness and programming in community dwelling older adults.