At Your Service: The Impact of Services in Senior Living on Resident Well-Being

A study in Seniors Housing & Care Journal investigated how the availability and use of various services in their senior living community impacted residents’ well-being.

The study was based on data from 565 senior living residents who were Medicare beneficiaries and participated in the National Health and Aging Trends Study (NHATS). In either 2015 or 2017, participants responded to survey questions related to their mood over the past month, psychological well-being (a combination of purpose in life, self-confidence, and life satisfaction), and self-efficacy (a combination of autonomy and mastery). Participants also indicated whether a variety of care and wellness services were available at their community, as well as if they used the service or not.

Availability of social events and programs seemed to be most important for residents’ well-being. Merely having these services available, whether residents used them or not, was related to better psychological well-being and self-efficacy, compared to the 14% of residents who did not have this available. Using areas designed for walking was also associated with better psychological well-being and self-efficacy, as well as slightly better mood. Use of recreational facilities was related to better psychological well-being, while using an indoor fitness center was related to better self-efficacy.

By comparison, getting help with medications, bathing/dressing, laundry, and housekeeping were all related to worse self-efficacy, compared to residents who did not have these services available in their community. However, this likely only reflects that residents in poorer health tend to use these services, rather than use of these services leads to worse outcomes. The same could be said for the positive outcomes mentioned above; this study did not look at effects over time, so we can’t say for certain that having walking paths leads to better psychological well-being, rather than residents with better psychological well-being use walking paths.

Transportation to doctors, stores, or events was the one offering that was not related to any well-being outcomes. This may mean that while convenient, transportation does not have as large an effect as other services on the well-being outcomes measured in this study.


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Choi YJ. Service availability, service use, and psychological well-being of older residents of residential care facilities and nursing homes. Seniors Housing & Care Journal (2019); 27(1): 51-61.

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