Study: Older Adults In Senior Housing Communities Experience Better Health Outcomes  

June 18, 2024

Press Release

Research shows senior housing communities promote wellness and healthy aging  

ANNAPOLIS (June 20, 2024) – Older adults who moved into senior housing experienced the same or better health outcomes compared to those who live in the greater community, according to research conducted by NORC at the University of Chicago. 

This is a core conclusion of a body of research showing how senior housing communities can improve access to safe and high-quality care for older adults. The research found that people who move into senior housing experience decreased vulnerability, receive more healthcare services at home, and have slightly increased longevity compared to older adults living in the community. 

“Senior housing residences can be a center for wellness and healthy aging for older adults, with positive outcomes for those who call it home,” said Ray Braun, CEO and president of the National Investment Center for Seniors Housing & Care (NIC), which provided grant funding for the research. “With thousands of aging older adults expected to move into senior housing in the near future, there is a substantial opportunity for senior housing to partner with healthcare payers and providers to improve the lives of older adults.” 

Researchers measured common, high-cost, adverse health events for older adults that preventative or rehabilitative care can mitigate. Overall, older adults who move into senior housing experience better health outcomes than their peers living in the community, including:  

  • Lower rates of inpatient admissions from the emergency department  
  • Lower rates of inpatient admissions due to physical injury, hip fracture, wounds, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, dehydration, or urinary tract infection 
  • Similar rates of inpatient admissions due to falls, hypertension, community-acquired pneumonia, and uncontrolled diabetes 

“Senior housing operators effectively manage residents’ health and lower adverse patient safety events, particularly when older adults move in and are more vulnerable, but more can be done to keep residents healthy while reducing healthcare spending,” said Lisa McCracken, NIC’s head of research & analytics. “Emergency department utilization is higher among senior housing residents, which may be driven by regulatory requirements or being overly cautious in response to an incident such as a fall. There is an opportunity to learn more from these results to potentially avoid an unnecessary ED visit.” 

Researchers compared older adults who moved into senior housing communities in 2017 and resided there for two years or until their death to a similar group of older adults who remained living in the greater community. NIC will support further research to estimate cost savings to Medicare and identify best practices from senior housing’s top performers. 

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About the National Investment Center for Seniors Housing & Care 
The National Investment Center for Seniors Housing & Care (NIC), a 501(c)(3) organization, works to enable access and choice by providing data, analytics and connections that bring together investors and providers. The organization delivers the most trusted, objective, and timely insights and implications derived from its analytics, which benefit from NIC’s affiliation with NIC MAP Vision, the leading provider of comprehensive market data for senior housing and skilled nursing communities. NIC events, which include the industry’s premier conferences, provide sector stakeholders with opportunities to convene, network and drive thought leadership through high quality educational programming. For more information, visit NIC’s website and follow NIC on LinkedIn and Facebook. 

About NORC at the University of Chicago 
NORC at the University of Chicago is an objective, non-partisan research institution that delivers reliable data and rigorous analysis to guide critical programmatic, business, and policy decisions. Since 1941, NORC has conducted groundbreaking studies, created, and applied innovative methods and tools, and advanced principles of scientific integrity and collaboration. Today, government, corporate, and nonprofit clients around the world partner with NORC to transform increasingly complex information into useful knowledge.