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Seniors Can Benefit From Congregate Living

  • Synopsis: Published: 2011-02-01 - Seniors in congregate living situations like assisted living or retirement communities experience greater subjective well-being. For further information pertaining to this article contact: Atria.

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New Study Reveals Seniors Can Benefit From Congregate Living, Experience Greater Life Satisfaction - Results suggest that subjective well-being and life satisfaction can be measured reliably, represent important milestone for developing industry benchmark.

Atria Senior Living, one of the nation's largest providers of independent living, assisted living and memory care services, announced this week the results of a recent six-month study conducted in conjunction with the International Longevity Center (ILC-USA). Aimed at identifying an effective way to measure subjective well-being and life satisfaction in older adults, the study suggests that seniors in congregate living situations, such as assisted living or retirement communities, can experience greater subjective well-being in this type of setting.

The two-part study, entitled "The Transition: Life Satisfaction and Subjective Well Being For Residents of Senior Living Communities," surveyed older adults to determine the key predictors of happiness for residents when they transition from their homes to a senior living community. The findings showed strong validity among the six items tested to gauge well-being and life satisfaction among study participants, and the study indicated that the subjective well-being, or happiness, of older adults can be accurately measured. In practical terms, this outcome marks a positive first step toward developing a standard measure for what determines a "successful" transition to the congregate senior living setting.

According to Dr. Everette E. Dennis, Executive Director and Chief Operating Officer at the ILC, identifying the key factors that lead to psychological well-being during a person's transition from home to senior living is not only difficult, but is a relatively unexplored topic. Dennis says a benchmark that identifies what leads to a successful transition to senior living is a crucial part of finding the best living option for older adults, especially those considering a move to senior living.

"With the first Baby Boomers turning 65 in 2011, the demand for senior living is going to continue to grow exponentially," says Dr. Dennis. "Currently, there is no accepted industry standard in place for evaluating the key elements for ensuring a safe and emotionally healthy transition to senior living communities. The Atria-ILC Transition study is the first step in an attempt to standardize the measurement of the factors that determine whether or not seniors thrive in a new congregate living environment - the goal being to help create successful transitions for older adults as they move from home to the senior living setting."

Aware of a void in research that examines late life transitions and senior living in general, Atria approached the ILC to help develop a system by which senior living providers could better determine how to best serve an aging population as they consider their options for the future. The study was conducted with a convenience sample of 28 residents currently living at an Atria senior living community in New York. The first surveys were conducted in October 2009 when participants had been living in the community an average of 19 months.

Residents who participated in the study exhibited significant improvements between the first and second administrations on four of the six measures, indicating a favorable assimilation into their senior living community. These improvements may suggest that living at home is not always the best option in terms of well-being, another topic for further exploration according to Khristine Rogers, Vice President of Active Aging with Atria Senior Living.

"Our ultimate goal is to continually create better and more seamless transitions into senior living communities, not just for the residents we serve, but for the aging population at large," says Rogers. "More importantly, these preliminary findings represent the beginning of the validation that seniors who choose senior living settings can possibly experience greater subjective well-being - essentially greater levels of happiness - than those living at home."

Atria also plans to further explore relevant research trends and topics related to aging through the "Butler Breakfast Series" that the company will launch in the spring. The series will host industry leaders in the fields of senior care and healthcare at various Atria locations across the country throughout 2011. The series was announced in January at the dedication of the Dr. Robert N. Butler Active Aging Center at Atria's flagship Manhattan community, Atria West 86. That event honored Dr. Robert Butler, renowned gerontologist and former Chief Executive Officer of the New York-based United States branch of the ILC. Often credited as the founder of the study of aging and the "father of geriatrics", Butler was highly involved with the Atria-ILC Transition study.

"Using the results of this study to further guide the lifestyle options we provide for seniors shows the practical importance of embarking on such research," adds Rogers. "If we can continue to invest in measures to help ensure older adults are truly finding happiness as they move from their home to senior living, it will help us continue to provide new initiatives that have value for the residents we serve, both today and into the future."

To review the results of the study, please visit www.atriaseniorliving.com/agingstudy. To learn more about the International Longevity Center, please visit www.ilcusa.org.

Atria Senior Living, one of the nation's largest assisted living owner-operators, provides respectful, quality care that helps approximately 13,000 older people live life to the fullest. Atria communities are not nursing homes; rather, they are active communities where seniors can get the care they need to live as independently as possible. At the heart of Atria's approach is the belief that superior care depends on running a superior business. That's why Atria has developed some of the industry's most stringent measurement tools and comprehensive training protocols. To learn more, log onto www.atriaseniorliving.com




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