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Aging Well: Research reveals health benefits associated with living in a life plan community

Residents living in Life Plan Communities (like The Mather, which will open in Tysons early next year) report better physical, emotional, intellectual, social, and vocational wellness than demographically similar older adults.

This biweekly column is sponsored by The Mather in Tysons, Virginia, a forward-thinking Life Plan Community for those 62 and better.

How does your plan for the future look? If you’re a planner, you’ve already got your investments and assets figured out, and your estate plan in order. But there are other important aspects of planning that are often ignored — such as laying the groundwork for your future quality of life.

More and more people are considering the solid advantages of Life Plan Communities. These age-restricted, amenity-rich communities invite people to live on their own terms, enjoying a host of services and opportunities, along with the added benefit of access to on-site health care services, if ever needed.

A local example of this is The Mather, a Life Plan Community opening in early 2024 in Tysons, Virginia, for those 62 and better.

An Engaged Lifestyle

Because you move into a Life Plan Community while you’re independent, you can take full advantage of the rewarding benefits of living there. At The Mather, residents will enjoy amenities such as:

  • A fitness center with cardio and strength-training equipment, group classes, personal training options, and more
  • A heated, saltwater lap pool, whirlpool, and sauna
  • Inspiring social, educational, and cultural programs, such as digital media workshops, live music, art technology seminars, and featured lecturers
  • An art studio for exploring creativity through art classes and collaborative Open Art Studio sessions
  • A spa offering signature services like facials and massage, with a Himalayan salt wall and more

These and other amenities and services are designed to meet the needs and desires of today’s older adults — and they also support overall wellness.

Proven Benefits

A national, five-year study revealed clear associations between living in a Life Plan Community and enjoying better health. The Age Well Study is a large-scale national study conducted over five years by Mather Institute, involving a total of 8,228 residents living in 122 Life Plan Communities around the US.

The Age Well Study compared the health and well-being of people who live in Life Plan Communities to a demographically similar sample of older adults living in the community at large. The findings reveal that residents of Life Plan Communities reported better physical, emotional, intellectual, social, and vocational wellness than their community-dwelling counterparts over a five-year span, with more favorable ratings in social and intellectual wellness in particular.

Highlights of the findings include:

  • In Year 5, Life Plan Community residents exhibited better self-reported health and higher levels of moderate physical activity compared to older adults from the community at large.
  • From Year 1 to 5, social contact significantly increased for residents.
  • From Year 1 to 5, overall engagement in intellectual activities significantly increased for residents and decreased for older adults in the community at large.
  • Changes in emotional and spiritual wellness were more favorable for older adults in the community at large, while the two groups reported similar changes over time in physical and vocational wellness.

The Age Well Study’s statistical models examined 1) differences in wellness between groups (residents from Life Plan Communities vs. older adults from the community at large), 2) changes in wellness over time (Year 1 vs. Year 5), and 3) whether the changes in wellness were different for Life Plan Community residents compared to the community-at-large respondents. Analyses controlled for age, gender, income, education, and marital status.

The increase in social contact within Life Plan Communities is not surprising, since in a community like The Mather it’s easy to find neighbors with similar interests to form a hiking club, theater-going group, or other social groups.

These research findings support the fact that, for those making a plan for their future, Life Plan Communities like The Mather are worth a closer look.

The Mather, projected to open in Tysons, VA, in early 2024 for those 62 and better, is a forward-thinking Life Plan Community that defies expectations of what senior living is supposed to be.

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