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Mather Institute Age Well Study, Year 3 Findings

Investigating Factors Associated with Happiness & Life Satisfaction in Residents of Life Plan Communities

Life Care Services, An LCS Company, participates in the Mather LifeWays Institute on Aging and Northwestern University’s Age Well Study. The 5-year study provides insights into the health and wellness of residents of Life Plan Communities. 2020 was the third year of the study.

Year 3 Results

In 2020, the study focused on factors associated with resident happiness and life satisfaction—both of which are associated with important outcomes. These include better physical and mental health, along with more positive social interactions. Happiness and life satisfaction are both subjective assessments of one’s own well-being.

The study uses the following definitions:

  • Happiness concerns one’s state of well-being.
  • Life satisfaction refers to the extent to which one’s life has met one’s expectation.

It’s important to note that much of this data was collected in the early months of 2020; before lives changed due to the pandemic.

Methodology

The Age Well Study provides insights into the impact living in a Life Plan Community has on resident health and wellness. This study also aims to identify which organizational factors, such as number of residents or location, are associated with better wellness outcomes for residents.

When the survey was launched in 2018, Life Plan Communities with at least 100 residents residing in independent living were eligible to enroll. A staff member provided organizational characteristics for each participating senior living community.

In year 3, there were 4,191 resident responses representing 122 Life Plan Communities. Of the total participants, 868 responses were received from residents at 22 senior living communities managed by Life Care Services.

As outlined at the beginning of this five-year effort, the Age Well Study includes four main components:

  • Self-administered organizational surveys completed by one staff member from each participating Life Plan Community.
  • Self-administered surveys completed annually by residents of Life Plan Communities for five years.
  • Semi-structured interviews with a subset of residents from three communities.
  • Secondary data analysis with a comparison sample of older adults living in the community at large.

Together, these components provide multiple sources of data to assess objective questions of health and wellness and enable a closer examination of residents’ experiences. This report describes the results of an analysis of survey responses from Year 3.

When considering all participating respondents, the following demographic differences were identified:

  • Females report greater happiness than males.
  • Respondents in the oldest groups (90+) report lower happiness and life satisfaction.
  • Respondents with a college degree or more reported higher life satisfaction compared to others who did not have a college
  • Greater income levels lead to higher life satisfaction. This is especially noticeable if the income is less than $40,000 annually.

In addition, the study showed residents with greater community belonging also reported higher satisfaction with their senior living community; loneliness was associated with less satisfaction. Social cohesion, spirituality and religiosity were not significantly related to satisfaction with one’s senior living community.

Of special note, respondents indicated greater physical activity was associated with greater happiness, but that did not relate to life satisfaction.

Understanding that there is strong connection between the mind and body. The Age Well Study focused on three components of health: self-reported health, physical activity and healthy diet. With this in mind, the following table shows the relationship between health-related factors and happiness and life satisfaction.

At Life Care Services

Senior living communities managed by Life Care Services benefit from the study. By having statistical data that demonstrates resident happiness and confirms programs and opportunities are meeting the needs of residents.

Overall, senior living communities managed by Life Care Services are doing well to provide programs and opportunities that support resident happiness and life satisfaction. Ongoing measurement such as this study re-affirm the quality of life offered to residents living in communities managed by Life Care Services.

  • This report shows the factors associated with resident happiness
  • The report breaks out Life Care Services vs. all Life Plan Communities (including LCS scores)
  • Life Care Services scored well on all of the factors, but never the best on any of the scores

Mather Institute Age Well Study Year 3 study findings are based on responses from 4,191 residents from 122 Life Plan Communities throughout the United States. Life Plan Communities with at least 100 residents residing in independent living were eligible to enroll in Years 1 or 2, and a staff member at each community was asked to complete a survey regarding organizational characteristics . Residents residing in independent living at enrolled communities were invited to complete annual surveys on their health and wellness as well as other individual characteristics. Year 3 of the Age Well Study was administered in January to May 2020, in the midst of a global pandemic. The full can be viewed at TheAgeWellStudy.com.