Updated: Mar 24, 2022
The entire study can be found on Mather Institute's website.
matherinstitute.com. This post will focus on the organizational data.
Community characteristics include each organization’s profit status, fee structure, religious affiliation, number of communities, community size, and levels of care .
There were no significant differences in stress associated with profit status, fee structure, religious affiliation, number of communities, levels of care, or age of community
ORGANIZATIONAL FACTORS AND RESIDENT STRESS Most organizational characteristics measured in this study were unrelated to resident stress; however, there were small differences in levels of stress for two organizational characteristics: • COMMUNITY SIZE: Respondents of smaller communities (300 or fewer residents in independent living) were less likely to be stressed compared to residents of communities with more than 300 residents in independent living (<300 residents=1 .9; 300+ residents=2 .0) (see Figure 14) .
• REGION: Residents of communities located in the Northeast reported more stress than residents in other regions.
Findings from Year 4 of the Age Well Study revealed that Life Plan Community residents, on average, exhibited low levels of stress and high levels of resilience during the pandemic . However, there are individual differences in stress and resilience across residents . Overall lower levels of neuroticism as well as higher levels of extroversion, agreeableness, and openness to new experiences are associated with less stress and better resilience during the pandemic . Residents with higher levels of personal resources, such as autonomy, affiliation, achievement, and social cohesion, as well as positive perceptions of aging and sense of purpose, also exhibited less stress and greater resilience .
Programs to increase residents’ personal resources may help lower residents’ stress and strengthen their resilience . For instance, an inability to maintain their autonomy or accomplish tasks may lead residents to become stressed . Creating programs that give residents the opportunity to practice autonomy and exhibit achievement may help to decrease residents’ stress associated with developing limitations as they age, and may help them exhibit resilience during times of hardship like the COVID-19 pandemic . Interestingly, many of these personality characteristics and personal resources are also associated with wellness outcomes in prior reports . For instance, while the current Year 4 report indicates that higher extroversion, sense of purpose, and social cohesion are related to less stress and more resilience, prior reports found that the same characteristics are associated with better resident health (Year 2) and happiness (Year 3) . This suggests that many programs offered by Life Plan Communities to enhance residents’ physical and emotional wellness may also decrease their stress and cultivate resilience .
PROPOSED STRATEGIES FOR COMMUNITIES Life Plan Communities interested in leveraging the study findings to mitigate residents’ stress while promoting resilience and healthy coping strategies should consider the following broad strategies for developing or customizing programs and resources:
• Offer educational and experiential programs that promote the use of personal resources. For instance, Life Plan Communities can cultivate resident autonomy in a variety of ways, starting with providing more choices for participation in wellness opportunities. Communities can also provide residents with opportunities to participate in activities that foster a sense of personal achievement. For example, a lecture program could be redesigned as a short series, with residents receiving a certificate of completion when they have attended all events. Finally, affiliation may be encouraged in a multitude of ways, such as incorporating opportunities for discussion during or after wellness events.
• Offer residents lectures and other programs that provide education about how to engage in healthy coping strategies in addition to opportunities to practice these strategies. For instance, Life Plan Communities can offer yoga events to teach engagement in meditation/ mindfulness and trivia game nights to promote engagement in intellectual activities.
• Encourage residents to invite others who may not live in the Life Plan Communities to social events. Enabling residents to invite others to social events can help provide residents with opportunities to enhance relationships with their children and maintain social relationships with grandchildren, other family members, friends, and neighbors.
The Age Well Study Year 1 results indicate that residents of Life Plan Communities reported better physical, social, intellectual, vocational, and emotional wellness compared to older adults who do not live in Life Plan Communities, but they exhibited lower levels of spiritual wellness . The Year 2 report deepened our understanding of resident wellness by identifying factors associated with healthy behaviors and health outcomes . Our understanding of factors associated with resident wellness continued in Year 3 through the examination of their association with happiness and life satisfaction, as well as in Year 4 through the examination of how residents responded to the pandemic .
Age Well Study surveys will be administered one last time in 2022, with the goal of exploring changes in wellness outcomes over time among residents of Life Plan Communities compared to older adults in the community at large .