Happy senior man having coffee with friends at table in nursing home

Older adults can age successfully in a wide range of care settings as long as they are engaged, eat nutritious meals and live in an adaptive environment. Those are the findings in a new report released Tuesday by The Center for Discovery (TCFD) and The John H. Hartford Foundation.

NORC at the University of Chicago, which prepared the report, concluded that components of the TCFD’s HealthE6 model could be piloted across various settings and at varying levels of financial investment and capabilities. The key components of the model include:

  • Initial and ongoing assessment of an individual’s physical and mental well-being
  • A schedule that includes physical activity and a consistent sleep routine
  • Meaningful socialization with staff, friends and family
  • A nourishing whole food-based diet
  • An adaptive environment that allows for safe, independent engagement

NORC based the report on more than 20 hours of interviews, on-site visits, document reviews and assessment of outcomes provided by TCFD. The NORC researchers also determined that improvements could be made to the model.

“While TCFD has designed and implemented a robust model of care to support transitions from one life stage to the next, what is currently missing is the opportunity to provide end-of-life care with a focus on community-based palliative care,” the researchers stated. “Over time, as more residents enter old age, The center will need to build or adjust its current programs to address this gap.” 

The research team added that with proper funding for infrastructure and staffing, the model would be well-suited to develop these additional programs and advance the continuum of complex care for older adults throughout their lifetime. 

“The U.S. has a quickly growing population of older adults and substandard options for residential care,”  Dianne Munevar, senior director of health care strategy at NORC said in a statement.  “The Center for Discovery has developed a model of residential care that could serve as an example of how seniors can live independently and with integrity.” 
The TCFD study follows another recent report by NORC that said the U.S. must take a public/private approach to housing and care for 16 million middle-income seniors who will be turning 75 in the next decade. NORC asserted that many of those seniors won’t have the funds to pay for facility-based care or qualify for Medicaid-sponsored care.