Quality of life and health among older adults has been shown to be influenced by social and physical engagement. In addition, those with higher levels of social support have a higher likelihood of healthy aging and a decreased risk of dementia. Unfortunately, due to mobility issues, driving restrictions and social isolation, many older adults are unable to participate in social and physical activities. These barriers may be alleviated by moving from community to retirement living.
The objectives of the study were:
- To determine the changes in physical and social engagement that occur in the transition from community living to retirement living.
- To determine if these changes vary by subgroups (gender, cognitive function, personality and physical function).
- To establish if changes are associated with corresponding variations in cognitive and physical function.
Summary of findings
Participants were recruited from Schlegel Villages residents that had moved in within the past three years. They were asked to report on past and present social, physical and cognitive activity using the CHAMPS questionnaire. Participants also reported on mood, current and past social activity using a social inventory and the Luben Social Network Scale.
Results to date indicate that participants have decreased their overall physical activity compared to living into the community since moving into the Schlegel Villages, which was true for light and moderate physical activity. However an interesting finding was that although daily living activities such as cleaning and housework declined, likely due to a decreased need to complete these activities in the Villages, purposeful exercise (aerobic classes, walking for exercise and use of exercise machines) increased. Social and cognitive activities varied among participants.