Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Social Work (MSW)


Social Work




Older people, Older people -- Dwellings



Physical Description

Digitized photocopy of typescript.


This research project was focused on elderly people and their living arrangements in an attempt to discover whether elderly people would prefer to live alone or with other elderly persons. If it was found that the elderly people interviewed would like roommates, then this would provide information which would be helpful in assessing the need for and determining the feasibility of a roommate service for elderly people.

Willingness to roommate served as the dependent variable. This study tested the relationship between each of two psychological variables, loneliness and independence, and the dependent variable. Loneliness was defined as an elderly person's feeling of being alone, and independence as an elderly person's ability to do things unaided. In addition, twelve demographic variables were used to describe the sample: sex, age, marital status, separation time, health, religion, length of time living in Portland, length of time living alone, income, education, occupation, and number of activities. The data obtained from these variables enabled the researchers to answer the following questions:

  1. What are the characteristics of the sample?
  2. What are the relationships of loneliness and independence to willingness to roommate?
  3. What are the correlations between each of the demographic and psychological variables and the dependent variable?

The population consisted of all those elderly people 62 years of age and over who lived alone in Portland Public Housing as of May 15, 1970. The sample was composed of 220 people from this population who were selected by choosing every sixth name from a list of 1,699 names. Letters were sent in two different mailings, and of the sixty-four who responded, fifty-six were interviewed.

The student researchers collected the data by using the structured interview. The data was coded, programmed and processed through an IBM 1130 computer.

The data analysis indicates that independence is correlated with willingness to a higher degree than any other single variable. Loneliness is negatively correlated with willingness, but the correlation is so small it is not meaningful. An analysis of the data reveals the sample to be mostly White, Christian, female, healthy and highly in­ dependent. As a group they are not lonely and not willing to roommate: these people prefer privacy and living alone. They are not really willing to share their bathrooms, furniture or rent; however, they may be willing to help another homeless elderly person by allowing that person to stay temporarily. It was concluded that the people in the sample do not feel that they need roommates; therefore, a roommate service probably is not feasible for this group of people.

Since the population studied in this project was characterized by a high level of independence, future research will be necessary to determine if a less independent population would be more willing to roommate.


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