Older Adults Are Demonstrably Less Vulnerable Soon After Moving into Senior Housing

senior couple dancing together

National Opinion Research Center

Older adults have heightened vulnerability to illness and impaired mobility prior to, and just after, entering a senior housing and care property, new research shows, but frailty levels then quickly plateau and ultimately decline.  

The research was conducted by NORC (National Opinion Research Center) at the University of Chicago, funded through a grant from the National Investment Center for Seniors Housing & Care. The data was released September 26, 2023.

In a review of Medicare claims of residents from 14,201 senior living properties and using a frailty index developed by researchers at Harvard University, residents were found to experience a 10% decline in relative frailty levels one year after moving in, as compared to peak. “Non-medical care and services like socialization, transportation, exercise, balanced nutrition, medication management and others have a positive impact on a resident’s health,” said Dianne Munevar, lead researcher at NORC.

NORC used the Harvard Claims-Based Frailty Index to assess older adults’ vulnerability to adverse health outcomes as measured by their rate of chronic conditions, acute conditions, and health services utilization. Residents with the greatest level of need and vulnerability tend to live in properties that offer the most intensive support services.

“Showing that vulnerability levels off and then declines after entering senior living is an important finding,” said Raymond Braun, president and CEO at NIC. “For residents, it suggests that this kind of housing can help restore a measure of vitality and independence.”

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 properties.

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.

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