New Research Confirms That Life Plan Communities Help People Stay Healthier
Over the years, studies have shown that residents at Life Plan Communities tend to live healthier and happier lives. Now, new research has confirmed those findings.
The five-year nationwide study, administered by the Mather Institute in conjunction with Northwestern University and other senior living organizations, is called “Age Well” and analyzes information gleaned from interviews and surveys with 5,777 residents at 122 Life Plan Communities. The study explores the impact of residence in a Life Plan Community on individual health and wellness.
Reporting from year one of the Age Well Study in 2018 found that residents of Life Plan Communities experience relatively high levels of health and wellness versus older adults in the greater community.
Now, findings from year two of the study — which was administered January and April 2019 — have just been released. Year two drills down into the individual personalities of residents and organizational factors to investigate how these elements impact health and wellness, including both healthy behaviors and healthy outcomes.
The healthy behaviors ranked in the study included physical activity, social activity, healthy diet and meditation/contemplation. All of these behaviors are associated with better health and wellness in residents.
The study asked the question, “How do personality traits impact residents’ health and wellness?” It found some interesting differences.
For instance, more extroverted people tend to participate in more physical and social activity and have healthier diets. More conscientious individuals do more physical activity, have a healthier diet and meditate more. More agreeable residents get involved in more social activity and meditation but participate in less physical activity. And people who experience anxiety and sadness participate in more spiritual contemplation.
Overall, the key findings were that individuals need programs specifically tailored to their needs in order to reach optimum health and wellness. One size does not fit all in physical exercise, social programming, diet or spirituality.
For example, when it comes to physical activity, some people thrive in a large, active, high-energy group class, while others may prefer quieter settings, such as individual workouts or nature walks.
That’s why, at Philadelphia Protestant Home (PPH), we offer fitness programs tailored to each person’s needs. Outgoing residents may prefer highly social activities, like water volleyball or shuffleboard, while introverts may prefer the serenity of yoga or tai chi. We overcome barriers to physical activity through exercise programs for people with specific health conditions, like body motion for people living with arthritis.
We also tailor social activities to a wide variety of interests and preferences so that all personality types feel welcome. Our social activities range from bowling to gardening to educational lectures to happy hours to crafting and quilting to outings and special excursions. There’s something for extroverts, introverts and everyone in between.
In terms of dining, PPH offers four different healthy and delicious venues to ensure that everyone can find options that suit their palates and individual health situations.
Another health and wellness benefit is our religious affiliation. The Age Well Study found that a religious affiliation is positively associated with meditation and personal contemplation. At PPH, we offer a variety of worship services and spiritual opportunities, including Protestant services in English and German, Roman Catholic weekly mass and Jewish worship services, devotions, hymn sings and prayer.
The Mather Institute study makes the point that, while it’s healthier overall to live at a Life Plan Community, it’s also very important for communities to tailor dining offerings, physical activities, social events and spiritual opportunities to the needs of each unique individual. At PPH, we share that philosophy.
The bottom line is that individuals who form strong bonds within their community tend to engage in healthier behaviors and have better health overall. That’s why we’re proud that PPH feels more like a family than a place to live. The close feelings we nurture are central to our lifestyle, and our slogan, “We’re Family,” is at the heart of a warm, welcoming environment that fosters health and happiness for all residents.