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Senior Housing Residents Live Longer Than Counterparts Living in the Community

Study from NORC at the University of Chicago, supported by a grant from NIC, shows positive relationship between senior housing, longevity and preventive health for older adults  


Older adults who live in senior housing communities live longer, receive more home health services and benefit from greater rehabilitative and preventive care in the two years following move-in than those who do not, according to new research conducted by NORC at the University of Chicago.  


Researchers compared older adults who moved into senior housing communities in 2017 and resided there for two years or until their death to a similar group of older adults who remained living in the greater community. They analyzed six measures: mortality, days alive, days away from home due to adverse health events, days receiving home health care, preventative and rehabilitative health services days, and days on anti-psychotics to understand the impact of senior housing.  


  • On average, older adults who move into senior housing: 

  • Live longer—Living more than one week longer than older adults who live in the community and have a lower mortality rate; 

  • Receive more home health care—Receiving 10 more days of home health care services than older adults who live in the community; 

  • Obtain more preventative/rehab services at home—Receiving four more days of preventative and rehabilitative services at home than older adults who live in the community; 

  • Spend less time on anti-psychotics—Spending three fewer days on anti-psychotics than older adults who live in the community. 


Researchers found that older adults who moved into senior housing communities spend roughly the same number of days away from home to receive high-acuity care as older adults who live in the community. 


“Senior housing and care communities support older adults by keeping them healthy at home,” said Ray Braun, CEO and president of the National Investment Center for Seniors Housing and Care (NIC). “As health care consumers continue to demand more accountability and better outcomes, the study shows there are tremendous opportunities for the senior living sector to integrate health care and housing, which can better meet consumer preferences and reduce the cost of care over time.” 


Researchers looked at variation across different types of private-pay senior housing communities, including continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs), independent living communities (IL), assisted living communities (AL) and memory care communities (MC).  

  • Notably, residents in the top 25% of communities live 70 days longer than those in the bottom 25% of communities. 

  • CCRC residents live almost two weeks longer than older adults in the community. 

  • Senior housing residents in the top 25% of communities receive greater than 40 more days of home health care than their peers in the bottom 25% of communities. 

“We know that senior living communities provide housing and care for older adults with different needs, ranging from independent living to more intensive memory care support,” said Lisa McCracken, NIC’s head of research and analytics. “While this research shows us the overall value of housing and care, it also shows there is more to learn from the communities that are consistently among the top performers. Understanding those best practices will ultimately lead to improved overall health and well-being of all residents who call these settings home.”

 

The research was supported by a grant from NIC and led by an independent team of researchers at NORC at the University of Chicago.  


“As the proportion of America’s older adults increases, there is growing demand for comprehensive health and wellness support within senior housing,” said Dianne Munevar, vice president of health care strategy at NORC. “Senior housing operators can capitalize on the growing demand and strengthen the appeal of senior housing communities by differentiating the scope of preventative health services available in their community relative to what’s available to community-dwelling older adults.”

  

The study is the third part of a four-part project supported by NIC to assess the health and well-being of senior housing and care residents. Previous studies provided insights on the vulnerability of senior housing residents and access to health care providers, and the final study will assess health outcomes of residents in senior living settings. 


To access the full methodology, click here.

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