Landmark Research Shows Life Plan Communities Improve Quality of Life for Older Adults

February 12, 2019

EVANSTON, IL–New, groundbreaking research recently released by Mather LifeWays Institute on Aging shows Life Plan Community residents report more healthy behaviors and have greater emotional, social, physical, intellectual, and vocational wellness than those living in the community at large.

The five-year Age Well Study is the most extensive longitudinal research to date exploring health and evaluating the impact living in a Life Plan Community has on residents’ well-being, as compared to those living in the community at large. The Year 1 Report of The Age Well Study includes responses by 5,148 residents from 80 Life Plan Communities from 28 states nationwide and is available to download free at

Among the findings, evidence shows that Life Plan Community residents engage in more intellectual pursuits including reading, games, trainings or other educational activities, and use social media and meet up with friends more often than older adults in the community at large.

Nearly 70% of older adults surveyed reported that moving to a Life Plan Community has somewhat or greatly improved their social wellness. The study also found that certain organizational factors, such as geographic location or living in an urban vs. rural or suburban setting, were associated with feelings of youth, optimism, and life satisfaction.

Age Well Study key findings show Life Plan Community residents report:

  • Greater satisfaction with life
  • More physical activity
  • Increased personal connections
  • Higher frequency of volunteering
  • More optimism
  • Greater life purpose
  • Better self-reported health, and fewer chronic conditions

“The Age Well Study shows that Life Plan Communities offer tremendous opportunities for resident well-being,” said Mary Leary, President and CEO, Mather LifeWays. “The five-year study will inform the industry for years to come. But beyond simply providing data, these results may motivate more people to consider a Life Plan Community.”

The Age Well Study measures residents’ self-reported health and wellness metrics through a survey taken annually over five years. Results are being compared against a demographically similar sample drawn from the Health and Retirement Study (HRS) conducted by the University of Michigan. Mather LifeWays Institute on Aging’s research partners include Northwestern University, ASHA, LeadingAge, Ziegler, Novare®, Life Care Services, and National Investment Center.

“We were delighted with the outcomes from the first year of the study. It demonstrated that Life Plan Communities, and Moorings Park specifically, do make an impact on the quality of lives of residents compared to those outside the Life Plan Communities,” said Dan Lavender, CEO, Moorings Park, Naples, FL. “It also gave us great data to design new programming to ensure we are continually improving and meeting unmet needs of our residents. We are looking forward to year two and thankful for the vision of Mather LifeWays and Northwestern to foster aging well.”

Based in Evanston, IL, Mather LifeWays is a 75+-year-old unique, nondenominational not-for-profit organization that enhances the lives of older adults by creating Ways to Age Well.SM Mather LifeWays Institute on Aging serves as an award-winning resource for research and information about wellness, aging, trends in senior living, and successful aging service innovations. Known for its vision of changing the way society views aging, Mather LifeWays is committed to transforming practices, perspectives, and language surrounding aging, and partnered with LeadingAge in 2015 to change the category name for Life Plan Communities. The landmark Age Well Study is the latest example of its commitment to the industry.

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