Research Study: Senior Housing Benefits Older Adults’ Health Outcomes

by Ryan Brooks  / June 25, 2024

Research  • Assisted Living  • Independent Living  • Memory Care  • Senior Housing  • Blog

NIC, in conjunction with research partner NORC at the University of Chicago, has completed a four-part research series analyzing the health and wellbeing of senior housing and care residents. The research series paired Medicare claims data with NIC MAP Vision property data to provide a nationally representative survey of the prevalence of various health events and conditions by property type. This provides stakeholders with a better understanding of the health and wellbeing of senior housing and care residents – and how they change following a move to senior housing.

By analyzing the healthcare utilization and ultimate outcomes of senior housing residents and comparing them with their counterparts living in the broader community, this research series highlights the value of residing in a senior housing setting.

The most recently released study compared the health outcomes of older adults living in a senior housing setting with those who live in the broader community. The key takeaway from the research indicates that residents in senior housing have lower rates of inpatient admission from the emergency department for issues related to physical injury, hip fracture, wounds, COPD, dehydration, and UTIs. This finding reinforces the notion that senior housing enables improved access to safe and high-quality care for older adults.

The study also found opportunities to further improve care delivery for senior housing residents. Senior housing residents have higher utilization of the emergency department than their peers living in non-congregate settings. Some of this may be attributed to regulatory requirements and legal precautions when sending residents out for emergency care. While these residents are less likely to be admitted to the hospital, decreasing this emergency department utilization is an opportunity for senior housing operators to explore further.

The ‘Health Outcomes’ study findings supplement prior research that focused on Frailty, Access to Physicians, and Longevity. The key takeaways from the first three studies in this research series find that older adults who reside in senior housing communities:

  • Experience improved frailty levels shortly after moving into a senior housing setting
  • Receive more care from specialty providers such as podiatrists, psychiatrists, and cardiologists
  • Receive more healthcare services delivered directly in their place of residence and
  • Live longer and experience a lower mortality rate in the first two years in senior housing

NIC is leveraging the findings from its research showing improvements in health outcomes and longevity measures to raise awareness of the value of senior housing beyond owners, operators, and investors. NIC seeks to raise awareness with CMS, Medicare Advantage payors and payviders, and other holders of the healthcare dollar risk for the residents who live in our communities.

Senior housing operators are often not financially rewarded for the value they provide in reducing healthcare costs to payors. NIC has launched a further study in partnership with NORC to quantify the cost savings and reduction to the total cost of healthcare spending for residents in these senior housing settings. Results of the “Cost Savings” study currently underway will be shared at the 2024 NIC Fall Conference, being held September 23-25, 2024 in Washington D.C.

The purpose behind NIC’s research is to inform and support business strategy and policy that improves older adults’ housing and healthcare. To review details and learn more about each portion of this four-part research series, visit the NIC website here.