With a major life decision on the horizon, it’s human nature to weigh the pros and cons. Often, it comes down to choosing the path that will bring you the greatest joy. However, there are times when predicting happiness is easier said than done.
Fortunately, seniors contemplating where they’ll make their retirement home have access to new information that may shed light on planning for happier golden years. This research explores how living in a Life Plan Community affects residents’ wellness across a broad range of factors.
The Age Well Study is a longitudinal study conducted by the Mather Institute that provides insight on residents of Life Plan Communities across the United States. In 2018, Year 1 of the study, researchers established baseline measures in the areas of emotional, social, physical, intellectual, and vocational wellness.
Year 2 focused on physical health and healthy behaviors, while Year 3 of the Age Well study took a deeper dive into residents’ emotional wellness, specifically their happiness and life satisfaction. (It’s worth noting the majority of data was collected in early 2020, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.) Results reflect feedback from more than 4,000 residents at more than 120 Life Plan Communities across the country.
Before diving into the findings, it may be helpful to have a better understanding of what defines a Life Plan Community. Put simply, it’s a type of senior living community or retirement community that offers a continuum of care as residents’ needs change. You might also hear these communities referred to as continuing care retirement communities.
Springpoint Senior Living’s eight Life Plan Communities in Delaware and New Jersey offer assisted living or personal care services, skilled nursing and rehabilitation, supportive memory care, and home care services. Residents enjoy maintenance-free, spacious independent living apartments, cottages, or villas with an array of resort-like amenities, along with the comfort of a secure plan for the future.
Happiness is influenced by numerous factors that affect the quality of life, including personality traits, psychological resources, social influences, and health. While happiness and life satisfaction are subjective measures, using scales allowed researchers to quantify residents’ sentiments.
On a scale of 1 to 7, residents’ average happiness level was 5.8. Perhaps more insightful is even the lowest-scoring Life Plan Community residents (the bottom quartile) rated their happiness at 4.6, well above the midpoint, with half of them giving it a solid 6 or higher. On the same scale, the average life satisfaction rating was 5.9, with 75% offering a score of 6 or higher.
As in previous years of the Age Well Study, the Year 3 data showed residents who engaged in more physical activities and ate healthier diets tended to be happier. Within a Life Plan Community, residents have greater access to wellness programs, fitness amenities, dietitians, and chefs who create nutritious, delicious meals. For a senior living alone, special arrangements with multiple sources would be necessary to achieve the same level of support.
The study also found correlations between happiness and social factors like social cohesion and a sense of belonging in the greater community. Humans are social creatures, and numerous studies offer evidence of the mental and physical health benefits of socialization. In fact, research shows that a sense of community belonging is an especially important variable in life satisfaction for seniors. Life Plan Communities provide numerous socialization opportunities, from casual exchanges in common areas to amenities and organized activities that bring residents with shared interests together.
If these are the factors that will influence your own happiness in your retirement years, a Life Plan Community may be the perfect choice for a joyful and enriching retirement. Find a community near you and discover the benefits of choosing Springpoint.