Are You Lonesome Tonight? Comparing Loneliness & Anxiety in Life Plan Communities & Adult Day Care

A recent study examined older adults in Life Plan Communities and adult day care centers to compare their levels of loneliness and anxiety about aging.

Life Plan Communities and adult day care centers both aim to facilitate social contact and provide programs for older adults. However, Life Plan Communities require relocation from their residents, which could potentially have a positive or negative impact on their social networks and engagement. A recent study examined older adults in each of these settings to compare their levels of loneliness and anxiety about aging.

A total of 477 older adults from four adult day care centers and four Life Plan Communities participated in this study. The average age at each setting was 82, with the adult day care participants having fewer women (69% versus 79%) and less education. However, there were no significant differences in each group’s satisfaction with services or ability to perform activities of daily living.

As for the study’s primary comparison, residents of Life Plan Communities showed lower levels of loneliness and anxiety about aging, even when controlling for demographic differences. For loneliness, Life Plan Community residents scored an average of 1.46 on a scale of 1 to 3 (1 = hardly ever, 2 = some of the time and 3 = often), while adult day care participants averaged a score of 1.78. As for anxiety about aging, on this scale from 1 to 5, Life Plan Community residents averaged a score of 2.96, compared to 3.27 for adult day care attendees.

When the researchers looked at the relationship between anxiety about aging and loneliness, they also determined that lower anxiety about aging among Life Plan Community residents partially accounted for the differences in loneliness scores between the groups.

This suggests that Life Plan Communities may play a role in reducing anxiety about aging, and that reducing anxiety about aging in older adults in any setting could potentially impact their level of loneliness.

 

SOURCE:

Ayalon L. Loneliness and anxiety about aging in adult day care centers and Continuing Care Retirement Communities. Innovation in Aging (2018); 2: igy021. DOI: 10.1093/geroni/igy021

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