Age Well Study Influences

Impactful Activity and Wellness Programming for Dallas Retirement Village

As a forward-thinking and resident-focused community, Dallas Retirement Village (DRV) is willing and able to evolve to meet the needs of seniors—especially their residents. It is this foundational philosophy that influenced DRV in 2019 to participate in the industry-acclaimed Age Well Study conducted by Mather Institute* in partnership with Northwestern University.

The study is a five-year analysis of the impact of residing in a Life Plan Community on residents’ health and wellness over time. Just recently completing Year 2, the Study gathered data from 5,777 residents in 122 Life Plan Communities across the nation, including Dallas Retirement Village.

We’d like to share here the basic findings gained from participating DRV residents in Year 1 and how what we learned has positively impacted programming at the community. Then we’ll look at Year 2 results just recently made available to Dallas Retirement Community.

The Age Well Study at DRV—Year 1—Residents’ Health and Wellness Over Time

Coordinating The Study onsite for DRV is Hilary Boyce, campus director of Life Enrichment. The perfect administrator for the project, Hilary has a real affinity for the psychology and behavioral elements necessary to take the information learned and convert it to real life, day-to-day programming that helps all residents at Dallas Retirement Village live a happier, healthier, more active lifestyle. Be sure to read Hilary’s analysis and results for Year 1 of the Study where she shared that DRV residents ranked higher than the nationwide average for mood, spirituality, and frequency of volunteering. “I love this stuff,” says Hilary. Study findings for Year 1 formed the foundation of last year’s popular 13-week Spring into Wellness initiative at DRV.

The most notable statistics from DRV residents in Year 1 of the Study dealt with Physical Wellness:

  • 33% felt their physical wellness improved, and 22% of the DRV respondents said their physical wellness was reduced.
  • The #1 activity DRV residents said they would like to see more of was Walking Tours (museums, historical sites, college campuses, cultural communities, and festivals).

Per Hilary, “These two things together told me our DRV residents wanted more physical activity—activity with purpose.” This eagerness for physical activity led to the Spring into Wellness Program of 2019.

The Age Well Study at DRV—Year 2—Residents’ Healthy Behaviors and Health Outcomes

The Age Well Study—Year 2 took an even closer look at Life Plan Communities by investigating factors that might be associated with healthy behaviors and healthy outcomes among residents. The Study took place at the participating communities from January to April 2019 and reported these general nationwide findings:

  • Residents with higher scores on personality traits of openness to experience and extroversion reported the highest levels of healthy behaviors.
  • Residents who form strong bonds within their community tend to have better overall health.
  • Key factors of resident wellness may be used to inform the development of programs and resources to support resident wellness.

Twenty-seven residents of Dallas Retirement Village participated in Year 2 of the Age Well Study—some had participated in Year 1 while; others were new to the study. Going forward into Year 3-4-5, date and findings will rely on the existing respondents of the first two years. Hilary explains that comparisons between Year 1 and Year 2 are challenging as different criteria were studied in each year. However, here are two interesting results:

  • DRV participating residents were on par with the total nationwide group when asked if they were physically active.

Do you consider yourself physically active?       YES:      63% DRV          61% Total Group

  • DRV participating residents differed with the nationwide total group when it comes to their perceived barriers to physical activity. The following chart illustrates these interesting findings.

In reference to the above chart, Hilary explains there are some factors that cannot be changed—gender, neurosis, age, need for control, extroversion/introversion—when it comes to increasing physical activity. “But if we focus on changing the factors we can impact,” says Hilary, “like loneliness, sense of purpose, depression, chronic health conditions, and perceptions of aging, then engagement will follow.”

What Lies Ahead for Programming at DRV in 2020?

“Moving into 2020, we are elevating our wellness program,” says Hilary. “The Age Well Study has given me directions to ponder. And, of course, resident input is critical in deciding the specific direction we take.

“So, along with the study findings, we will be coordinating a 2-week calendar of experiential fitness classes to give our residents a chance to try new fitness programs such as Piyo, Country Heat, and Chair Yoga. This will hopefully give us more direction. But our goal is not only to provide interesting, fun, and beneficial fitness offerings. We also want to provide programming that has purpose, creates community cohesion, targets chronic health conditions, and provides positive perceptions of aging.”

 Not a resident of Dallas Retirement Village? You’re welcome to attend our Greater Community Exercise classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 9:00 a.m. in the Lodge Clubhouse, Cascade Commons room.

Call (503) 623-9211 for more information about our wellness and activity programming at Dallas Retirement Village or to schedule a tour of our community.

*MATHER INSTITUTE in Evanston, Illinois, is a respected resource for research and information about wellness, aging, trends in senior living, and aging services innovations. In order to support senior living communities and others that serve older adults, the Institute shares its cutting-edge research in areas including effective approaches to brain health, ways to enhance resilience, and employee wellness programs. Mather Institute is part of Mather, a nearly 80-year-old not-for-profit organization dedicated to developing and implementing Ways to Age WellSM by creating programs, places, and residences for today’s young-at-heart older adults.

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