5 Research Findings Linking Senior Living with Better Health
New research shows there are significant benefits to choosing to retire in a senior living community offering a full continuum of care, called a life plan community or CCRC. There are several risks facing older adults who choose to live alone or where their needs aren’t adequately met; more research continues to reveal how aging in place may not always be ideal—whether it’s isolation or fall risk, there are factors to consider when it comes to choosing the right environment for retirement.
The Age Well Study conducted by Mather Lifeways Institute on Aging shows promising results for those choosing to enjoy their golden years in a continuum of care retirement community (CCRC). Researchers collected survey responses from more than 5,000 older adults living in CCRCs around the U.S. and compared them to existing research findings from ongoing studies on seniors aging in the community-at-large. The report examines key indicators of wellness, from physical health to general satisfaction with life. Here are a few key takeaways about the benefits of a continuum of care campus:
Better Emotional Stability
Emotional wellness plays a key role in mental and physical health and can even impact lifespan. In general, positive perceptions of aging and an optimistic outlook on life are associated with staying more physically active and having fewer chronic illnesses overall. Being able to regulate stress, recognize new feelings, solve problems and manage disappointments is a strong indicator of overall satisfaction with life. The study found that those living in a CCRC or similar environment reported better moods, more optimism and a generally more positive outlook on growing older. Additionally, study participants had fewer instances of hopelessness and reported feeling less pessimistic overall.
More Social Satisfaction
One of the most encouraging findings from the Age Well Study is the positive impact a CCRC can have on social wellness. Because isolation can have severe effects on cognitive skills, motivation and overall longevity, it’s important for seniors to feel they’re in an environment that encourages social growth. Those with more positive perceptions on their social life tend to report higher levels of overall health, and those living in a CCRC reported greater social wellness in nearly every category examined in the study. Overall, social contact through a variety of methods ranked much higher while feelings of loneliness were significantly lower.
Engaged in a Healthier Lifestyle
It’s no secret that physical health can make a big difference in quality of life, making it especially necessary for seniors to find a way to enjoy staying active and eating well, along with finding the right balance of using health care services or medications to manage any conditions. Because senior living communities make these healthy choices more accessible, varied and personalized, survey respondents in a life plan community self-reported better health, fewer chronic conditions and more participation in fitness activities than their counterparts living in the community-at-large.
Higher Rates of Intellectual Wellness
Despite the name, intellectual wellness is about far more than how smart someone is—it’s about how often one pursues educational activities that keep their mind busy. Whether through workshops or creative pursuits, learning new things has been shown to improve cognitive function and even slow overall cognitive decline. Seniors living at home, rather than in a senior living community, reported being less engaged in intellectual activities along with lower self-reported memory. Those living in a CCRC rated their own memory as “good” or “very good,” and were more likely to engage in intellectually stimulating activities at least once a week with activities like educational classes, reading, writing and games.
Greater Sense of Purpose and Satisfaction with Retirement
It can be hard to define what exactly goes into feeling a “sense of purpose,” though we tend to know it when we feel it—which is exactly how the study approaches this component of wellness. The study also compared how often people choose to volunteer or work with others, which can factor into general feelings of being productive. The findings? Consistent with the rest of the report, seniors in a retirement community enjoy a greater sense of purpose in life, more satisfaction with life in retirement, and tend to be more involved with their communities through volunteer work.
The positive results from this study are important for supporting older adults deciding between lifestyle options in retirement. While this is only the first installment of the final report, initial findings already show promising results for retiring in a CCRC.
If you’re interested in learning more about everything offered at a CCRC, get in touch with a member of our team today. Wingate Residences at Haverhill is located on a full continuum of care campus offering independent and assisted living options, along with memory care suites and skilled nursing options, should individual needs change. Schedule a tour with us or call us today at (978) 912-9250.