How Life Plan Communities Boost Resilience, Emotional Wellness and Life Satisfaction
The Mather Institute has partnered with Northwestern University for a multiyear study of Life Plan Community living and its effect on the quality of life for seniors. This study, called the Age Well Study, is ongoing, with plans to run for a total of five years. The findings from year three have recently been released.
Over the course of the project, more than 4,000 Life Plan Community residents from 122 communities have participated. The research seeks to understand the relationship between the retirement lifestyle seniors live at a Life Plan Community as compared to other forms of residence, and their overall happiness, life satisfaction, and the effect this has on their physical, cognitive and mental health over the course of their retirement years.
This is the first study of this size and scope on this subject, and the importance of the information being learned cannot be overstated. Researchers are discovering what makes seniors happier and healthier and able to live longer, more satisfying lives.
Facts About the Age Well Study
The main purpose of the Age Well Study is to understand the impact a Life Plan Community has on the people who live there.
The information gathered accounted for the following factors for each participant:
- Marital status
- Mental health diagnosis
- Any physical health conditions
- Length of time residing in the Life Plan Community
Here are some facts about participants:
- Just over half of the participants were age 85 or older
- About two-thirds were female
- About half were married
- Close to one-third were widowed
- The Life Plan Communities that participated were fairly evenly distributed geographically, with respondents from all over the United States
Age Well, Year 3, Study Purpose
Year three of the Age Well Study focused on happiness. It’s important to note that “happiness” is a subjective concept. In other words, individual people have their own ideas about what happiness is to them. So the study focused on each person’s life satisfaction, however each person defined it at the time.
The reason why happiness was a focus of the study is not just because it feels good and indicates a positive day-to-day quality of life. It’s believed more and more that a person’s happiness over time has a direct effect on that person’s physical and mental health. There’s growing evidence that positive emotional feelings lead to positive health outcomes.
The study looked at how a person’s emotions affected their desire to try new things, to interact with others in social settings, and their ability to be creative and flexible. It’s been made clear that a more positive mindset leads to better learning skills, more physical activity, more social interaction, and more resilience to challenges.
Age Well, Year 3, Study Results
Seniors who live in a Life Plan Community are happier than those who live elsewhere. Ninety-one percent of participants in the study responded that they were either “completely” satisfied, or “very” satisfied with their senior living community. On a scale of 1 to 7, even the lowest-scoring Life Plan Community residents rate happiness and life satisfaction at a 4.6 — with half of them giving it a 6+. This is much higher than the national average for life satisfaction for seniors in the U.S.
And this higher quality of life did not vary based on a participant’s age, gender, income, length of residence, education or marital status. Living in a Life Plan Community makes people happier, and happiness has a positive effect on health and wellness.
Happiness Boosts Resilience
A higher level of happiness leads to greater resilience against stressors like financial worries, social situations or health concerns. A person doesn’t just have a better day-to-day quality of life. Data strongly suggest that happier people are much more capable of dealing with any sort of hardship that may come along, making them better able to conquer it.
How do Life Plan Communities boost resilience more so than other types of living environments for seniors? Because of the peace of mind they provide for residents. Along with the healthy lifestyle, Life Plan Community residents know that any and all health care needs they may have in the future will be provided by skilled professionals, right where they live. This kind of peace of mind can’t be found anywhere else.
Freedom Pointe at the Villages provides this peace of mind. With us, you’ll enjoy maintenance-free living, fine dining, fitness classes, lifelong learning and so much more. Our holistic approach to your wellness balances your physical, emotional, social, intellectual and spiritual health. We’ll customize your wellness plan based on your unique wants and needs. All these benefits lead to more happiness. And happiness leads to health, wellness and longer life.