Date of Award

Summer 7-28-2017

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Nursing Science (DNS)



Committee Chair/First Advisor

Dr. Rachel Myers

Committee Chair

Dr. Mary de Chesnay

Second Committee Member

Dr. Anne Bongiorno

Third Committee Member

Dr. David Mitchell


The purpose of this Participatory Action Research (PAR) study was to discover ways to enhance well-being in young adults with DD and older adults in the Oak Grove community. This dissertation details how PAR was used in the Oak Grove community to identify ways to enhance purpose and meaningful activity for older adults while developing positive relationships with younger adults with DD through qualitative methods.

Ryff and Keyes (1995) discovered that although some elements of well-being remain stable as a person ages, purpose-in-life drops significantly in older adults. In addition, young adults with developmental disabilities (DD) lack meaningful relationships, which negatively impacts their well-being (Mazurek, 2014). The data echoes the reported loneliness in young adults with DD in Oak Grove (the location of this study). Several older adults have purposefully tried to address this loneliness in young adults through inclusion in volunteer work; however, this has been on an intermittent basis and the need for meaningful relationships remains.

Analyses of the data revealed ways to enlist the wisdom and knowledge of older adults to enhance the well-being of young adults with DD and consequently enhance the well-being of the older adult as well. Themes that were discovered in the data include the five elements of the Well-being Theory as they relate to the people of Oak Grove, specifically: engagement, positive relationships, positive emotion, purpose and meaning, and accomplishment (Seligman, 2011). In addition, multiple aspects of the unique nature of young adults with DD were revealed; the term exceptional people was used to identify this theme. Other important findings include the need for policy development for transportation for people with disabilities, the need for development of intergenerational activities, and the importance for further research.