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The Retirement Research Is Out: Life Plan Communities Boost Life Satisfaction in Seniors

Happy senior couple sitting in the grass at a park

The Research Is Out: Residents of Life Plan Communities Are Happier


Being active. Making friends. Learning a new skill. From physical health to social connectedness to cognitive resilience — all these and more influence how well we will age.

Through a survey being conducted annually for five years, Mather Institute, in partnership with Northwestern University, is evaluating how these factors impact the life satisfaction of residents in Life Plan Communities across the nation. Results from this groundbreaking longitudinal study — called the Age Well Study — are published each year and build on the year before. This year was the study’s third year.

Year 1 examined the connections between happiness and life satisfaction and found that Life Plan Community residents score higher than their counterparts for overall social, physical, emotional, intellectual, and vocational wellness. Year 2 examined individual personality traits, resources, and communal factors, and revealed that certain personality traits lead to the highest levels of healthy behaviors.


Year 3: The Pursuit of Happiness


Year 3 of the Age Well Study investigated factors related to emotional wellness, specifically feelings of happiness. The study surveyed more than 5,700 seniors in 122 Life Plan Communities across the United States.

Why is happiness so important? Feeling happy feels good. Feeling happy is also associated with other important outcomes such as better physical and mental health. When we’re happy, we’re more open to try new things, seek out positive social interactions, and be more creative and flexible. Happy people develop great skills, resources and relationships that increase their resilience to life’s challenges.

While some people naturally have happier dispositions because of genetics, situational factors, and day-to-day thoughts and behaviors, the study found that other factors also play a role in how happy we feel:
· Feelings of belonging and social cohesion
· Spirituality and religious beliefs
· Leisure activities
· Physical health
· Satisfaction with where one lives
· Basic needs are met


What Do the Results Tell Us?


Life Plan Community residents measured near the top of the range for happiness. They were more optimistic and satisfied with life, and felt they had more control over their activities and their lives. Overall, they had a stronger sense of purpose, and felt their life was meaningful. A very high percentage — approximately 91% — said they were completely or very satisfied with their senior living community.

Because what contributes to happiness varies from person to person, the researchers suggested that Life Plan Communities should find out what makes their residents happy and offer a variety of programs to support those areas. They also suggested that because of the strong connection between body and mind, supporting residents’ physical wellness with enjoyable, effective wellness programs will boost their health as well as happiness.

By and large, the results show how important feeling socially connected and having a sense of belonging is for older adults’ happiness. This is especially true due to the physical isolation, quarantine orders and social distancing that most residents went through at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Life Plan Communities should continue to make social connections a priority for their residents, and provide programs, coaching, and other opportunities to boost optimism and build resiliency.



How Our Communities Measure Up


At Presbyterian Homes, we take information like this to heart. Presbyterian Homes, as a nonprofit Life Plan Community with no outside stakeholders, is able to focus completely on the care and happiness of its residents. Our full-service community provides services and amenities designed specifically for older adults, and supports physical, mental and spiritual well-being for a happier and well-rounded retirement.

Residents are part of a community where socialization and friendships are encouraged, and they can take part in wellness programs, dine as if they’re at a restaurant, or take up a new sport or skill. We offer residents priority access to a full continuum of on-site care, including assisted living, skilled nursing and memory care, so they can face their future with optimism. They can sleep easy, knowing they have a plan for dealing with potential health issues, and there’s no need for a disruptive move if they or a spouse ever need higher levels of care.


Increase Your Happiness Quotient


Get the right information about choosing a Life Plan Community for yourself or a loved one in the Chicago area. Presbyterian Homes offers three beautiful retirement locations. Delight in sharing laughter with kindred spirits at The Moorings of Arlington Heights. Explore how sweet life can be with the feeling of belonging at Westminster Place. Thrive with the strong sense of community and kindness at Lake Forest Place.


Discover the Life Plan Community that suits your ideal way of life. Contact us today to find out more.