Nursing ETDs

Publication Date



Older adults continue to live longer, and their desire is to not only live longer but to remain as independent as possible. Therefore, older adults strive to live more productive lives, not to just continue to exist. By living a healthy life, older adults are empowered to take control, not only of their health but of other important life decisions. The purpose of this study was to explore and describe rural older adults behaviors toward healthy lifestyles. The theoretical framework for the study was Pender's health promotion model, which addressed factors that enhance health-promoting behavior, leading to improved health and quality of life for the older rural adult. This ethnographic study was conducted in West Tennessee, with 30 rural older adults, aged 62 years or older, independently living in a senior center apartment complex. Three research questions guided data collection: What are the barriers to health-promoting behaviors in rural older adults?; What are the health-promoting behaviors in the rural older adult?; and What qualities facilitate healthy aging in rural older adults? Data were collected through two interviews with each participant and participant observation. Key themes that emerged through the analysis process of immersion and crystallization were unhealthy behaviors, self-control, and healthy qualities. This study revealed that some rural older adults felt that the most important factors in aging were being positive about life, having a zest for life, and living viii life to the fullest. Some participants had knowledge of healthy behaviors, but through choice or lifelong habits, they continued with unhealthy behavioral choices.

Degree Name


Level of Degree


Department Name

College of Nursing

First Committee Member (Chair)

Parshall, Mark

Second Committee Member

Escandon, Sookie

Third Committee Member

Gibson, Debbie


Health Promotion



Document Type