Life Plan Communities: The Key to Senior Happiness? New Study Suggests Yes

What makes you happy? Is it trying new things? Making new friends? Is it doing something that gives you a sense of purpose and meaning? Research has shown that all these things can add to your overall happiness and improve your quality of life. To enjoy a happy retirement, you don’t necessarily have to move to a senior living community. However, a recently concluded Age Well Study found that older adults who live in a Life Plan Community, like Friendship Village Tempe, were happier and enjoyed better health, and wellness than those who lived at home.

What is the Age Well Study?

Designed in collaboration with Northwestern University, the Age Well Study is the only national longitudinal study evaluating the impact of living in a Life Plan Community on residents’ cognitive, physical, and psychosocial health and well-being.

Age Well Study Year Three Results

In 2020, the study focused on factors associated with resident happiness and life satisfaction. 4,191 residents from 122 Life Plan Communities participated in the survey and here are the results:

Social/communal factors and happiness and life satisfaction

Research shows that social interactions are vital for life satisfaction in those in the 55+ age group, and Life Plan communities provide lots of socialization opportunities

  • Loneliness: Residents with greater loneliness were less happy and less satisfied with life.
  • Social cohesion: Residents with a greater sense of social cohesion in their communities were happier and more satisfied with life.
  • Community belonging: Residents with a greater sense of community belonging were happier and more satisfied with life.

Health and happiness and life satisfaction

Studies show that more physical activity and healthier diet were associated with greater happiness. The Age Well study of Life Plan Communities — with their wellness programs, dieticians, and chefs to create healthy, delicious meals — confirmed the results of these studies:

  • Self-reported health: Residents with better self-reported health reported greater happiness and higher life satisfaction.
  • Physical activity: Greater physical activity was associated with greater happiness, but it was not related to life satisfaction.
  • Healthy diet: Residents who indicated that they had healthier diets tended to be happier and more satisfied with life.

Satisfaction with life domains

Approximately 92% of respondents were highly satisfied (either “very satisfied” or “completely satisfied”) with the place where they live, and 90% were highly satisfied with the city or town where they live. Most respondents were also highly satisfied with their daily life and leisure (85%), financial situation (82%), and family life (79%). Respondents reported lower satisfaction with health, with 60% highly satisfied.

Satisfaction with senior living community and happiness and life satisfaction

91% of respondents were “completely” or “very” satisfied with their senior living community.

On a scale of 1 to 7, even the lowest scoring Life Plan residents rate happiness and life satisfaction at a 4.6 — with half of them giving it a 6+.

Overall Age Well Study Findings

The latest report from the study examines changes in the health and wellness of residents over five years compared to older adults from the community at large. The findings include:

  • Life Plan Community residents continued to report better physical, emotional, intellectual, social and vocational wellness than their community-at-large counterparts.
  • From Years 1 to 5, social contact significantly increased for residents.
  • Overall engagement in intellectual activities significantly increased for residents (including increased writing and attending education) and decreased for older adults in the community at large.

The Key to Happiness Starts with Where You Live.

If you’re wondering how to be happy in retirement, one of the best types of retirement communities you should consider is a Life Plan Community. To learn more about the vibrant lifestyle at Friendship Village and the art of loving life, contact us here