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Health Promotion and Behavioral Sciences


Objectives: Prior research has shown social capital and built environment quality are associated with overall health status and the incidence of mental illness. This study explores the relationship between social capital, built environment, and quality of life specifically for assisted living residents, currently a gap in the literature. Method: A total of 76 assisted living residents were interviewed for the study using researcher-administered questionnaires. In addition, site audits were conducted to quantitatively evaluate the built environment surrounding 12 assisted living communities in the Louisville Metro region. Results: There was a moderate, positive correlation between social capital and mental health, r = .473, p < .001. Built environment quality for the neighborhood immediately surrounding the assisted living community was not significantly correlated with quality of life for assisted living residents. Other population characteristics, including demographic characteristics, self-rated health status, and instrumental activities of daily living were not significantly predictive of mental health scores. Conclusion: This study demonstrates that social capital is associated with happiness and self-rated quality of life. Specifically, increased social capital is associated with increased mental well-being for older adults residing in assisted living communities, with social capital explaining about 20% of the variation in quality of life scores.


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Original Publication Information

Walsh, Sarah E. and A. Scott LaJoie. "Influence of Built Environment Quality and Social Capital on Mental Health of Residents of Assisted Living Communities in Louisville, Kentucky." 2018. Gerontology & Geriatric Medicine, 4: 1-9.