Mather LifeWays Research Shows Life Plan Communities Improve Quality of Life for Older Adults

EVANSTON, Ill. — New research released last week by Mather LifeWays Institute on Aging shows that continuing care retirement community — or life plan community — residents report more healthy behaviors and have greater emotional, social, physical, intellectual and vocational wellness than those living in the community at large. 

The five-year Age Well Study is the most extensive longitudinal research to date exploring health and evaluating the impact living in a CCRC has on residents’ well-being, according to Mather LifeWays. The Year 1 Report of The Age Well Study includes responses by 5,148 residents from 80 CCRCs in 28 states nationwide. It is available to download for free at www.TheAgeWellStudy.com. 

The Age Well Study measures residents’ self-reported health and wellness metrics through a survey taken annually over five years. Results are being compared against a demographically similar sample drawn from the Health and Retirement Study (HRS) conducted by the University of Michigan. Mather LifeWays Institute on Aging’s research partners include Northwestern University, ASHA, LeadingAge, Ziegler, Novare, Life Care Services and NIC.  

Among the findings, evidence shows that CCRC residents engage in more intellectual pursuits including reading, games, trainings or other educational activities, and use social media and meet up with friends more often than older adults in the community at large. Nearly 70 percent of older adults surveyed reported that moving to a CCRC has somewhat or greatly improved their social wellness. 

The study also found that certain organizational factors, such as geographic location or living in an urban vs. rural or suburban setting, were associated with feelings of youth, optimism, and life satisfaction.

Age Well Study key findings show Life Plan Community residents report: 

  • Greater satisfaction with life
  • More physical activity
  • Increased personal connections
  • Higher frequency of volunteering
  • More optimism
  • Greater life purpose
  • Better self-reported health, and fewer chronic conditions

“The Age Well Study shows that life plan communities offer tremendous opportunities for resident well-being,” says Mary Leary, president and CEO of Mather LifeWays. “The five-year study will inform the industry for years to come. But beyond simply providing data, these results may motivate more people to consider a life plan community.”

Based in Evanston, Mather LifeWays is a nonprofit organization that seeks to enhance the lives of older adults.

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