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Well Living Lab Introduces Research Agenda for Senior Living

Updated: Nov 10, 2022

Partnership between Delos and Mayo Clinic to expand health and wellness interventions in collaboration with leading senior living stakeholders

The Well Living Lab, founded as a collaboration of Delos and Mayo Clinic, announced the launch of a series of studies investigating the impact of indoor environments on the risk of airborne infectious diseases, sleep quality and cognitive function in older adults. The studies will employ the Well Living Lab’s field study platform, in collaboration with senior living owners and operators, to move its science beyond the walls of the Lab directly into senior living communities.

“Enhancing indoor environments in senior living communities could improve quality of life and longevity as well as increase independence and performance” The research initiative will build upon the Lab’s recent groundbreaking study on aerosolized particle transmission in school classrooms as well as studies related to the convergence of building and health sciences across residential, office and other indoor settings. Outcomes of the research will include providing evidence-based insights to the senior living industry to help inform key decisions being made by owners and operators as the industry advances with a heightened focus on health, wellness, and safety.

“With a significant portion of the population over the age of 65, we need a stronger understanding of how indoor spaces can both positively and negatively impact our health and well-being as we age,” said Peter Scialla, Delos President and Chief Operating Officer.

“We have invested heavily to engage with industry stakeholders to understand the challenges and opportunities they face today. The launch of this initiative marks the beginning of an industry wide effort to utilize the best of science and technology to inform decisions that accelerate the industry’s elevated focus on wellness as a demand driver.” Seniors comprise one of the fastest-growing populations. According to the 2020 U.S. Census, the 55-plus population grew by 27% from 2010 to 2020 - 20 times more than those under the age of 55. Multiple factors play a role in the health and well-being of older adults.

A newly released report from the World Health Organization noted that more than 55 million individuals are living with dementia worldwide, with this number expected to rise to 139 million by 2050. Features of the indoor environment could reduce rates of airborne disease transmission, improve the health of older adults, and slow the progression or delay the onset of dementia.

“Enhancing indoor environments in senior living communities could improve quality of life and longevity as well as increase independence and performance,” said Barbara Spurrier, MHA, Executive Director of the Well Living Lab. “Millions of older adults live with chronic diseases, dementia and behavioral health impairments. The only way to understand indoor environments is to study them, and the Well Living Lab’s multidisciplinary team of scientists and technologists is equipped to conduct this vital research both in the Lab and in the field.”

The Well Living Lab is the first scientific laboratory solely dedicated to conducting and applying human-centered research to understand the interaction between the indoor environment and human health and well-being. The Lab is supported by the Well Living Lab Alliance, a consortium of leading global organizations across real estate, building, technology, design and more. For years, the Well Living Lab has been conducting research and offering insights to industry groups surrounding the effect that the indoor environment is having on occupant health and well-being. Most recently, the Lab conducted a study, currently under peer review, evaluating how supplementing HVAC systems with portable air purification units can reduce the concentration, dispersion, and deposition of aerosols in a simulated classroom environment.

The forthcoming senior living research will feature similar real-world environmental testing to help identify healthy interventions to improve wellness in this population.

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