New Resident Health Data Show Value of Senior Living to CMS, Medicare Advantage Payers

Older adults who move into senior living communities experience better health outcomes compared to those living in homes outside of such communities, according to a research series conducted by NORC at the University of Chicago (NORC) in conjunction with the National Investment Center for Seniors Housing & Care (NIC).

The research by NORC and NIC found that senior living residents experienced decreased vulnerability to negative health outcomes, received comprehensive care, and had increased longevity when moving to a community compared to aging at home.

The most significant finding in the research was the reduction in inpatient admissions from the emergency department, NIC Healthcare Strategy Senior Principal Ryan Brooks told SHN on Thursday.


“These research findings highlight the value of senior housing, not just to the residents who live there, but also to those who are covering the health care risk, such as CMS, Medicare Advantage plans and other payors,” Brooks said via email.

Earlier this spring, the NIC and NORC partnership released data that showed senior living residents have a lower mortality rate in the two years following a move into a community, at 20% compared to those living at home with a 22% mortality rate.

Following a move into a senior living community, residents lived 10.4 days longer (654.8 days) compared to those at home (644.4 days) during the two-year study period. The report also highlighted wide variations in resident health outcomes within senior living facilities.


Researchers found that those living in the top 25% of communities generally outlived those in the bottom 25% of communities by more than two months.

By improving health outcomes of residents, operators have “been effective in managing resident clinical risk,” the NIC and NORC research found, but the investigators called for further study on the cost savings for Medicare and understanding the impact of new value-based care models.

“This research series is able to actually quantify the value of senior housing across these measures and reinforces the notion that senior housing enables improved access to safe and high-quality care for older adults,” Brooks said.

It should be noted that senior living operators in 2024 have picked up the pace of value-based care adoption.

Older adults who moved into a senior living community had lower rates of hospitalization and emergency department visits than adults living privately at home, according to the newly released findings. Those in senior living communities also reported lower rates of physical injuries, including hip fractures, wounds, and other health issues like dehydration, UTIs, and COPD.

“These findings demonstrate alignment between the role that senior housing owners and operators play while considering consumers’ need for improved access to high-quality, safe, and equitable care for older adults,” the authors wrote.

Some senior living operators have started measuring their own health outcomes or launched research efforts into their communities to better understand resident needs and care.

Evanston, Illinois-based senior living operator Mather and its research arm Mather Institute have reported similar findings from internal research. The five-year Age Well Study published in 2023 gave insight into the growing demand for health, wellness, and lifestyle offerings to senior living residents.

In its final year, the Age Well Study showed that life plan community residents had better health outcomes and physical activity levels compared to older adults living at home. Life plan community residents also reported increased levels of satisfaction, optimism, and improved perceptions of aging, the data shows.

In the latest NIC and NORC report on health outcomes, CCRC residents had 24% fewer hospitalizations for physical injuries compared to older adults living at home and experienced four fewer hospitalizations due to a hip fracture, the two-year study shows.

Going forward, the multi-pronged research effort has “established the foundation” for NIC and NORC future research in senior living, Brooks said, highlighting a future study that will “quantify the cost savings and reduction to the total cost of healthcare spending for residents in these senior housing settings.”
“We want to raise awareness with CMS, Medicare Advantage payors and payviders, and other holders of healthcare dollar risk for the residents who live in our communities,” Brooks added.

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