Am. J. Geriatr. Psychiatry

Study of Independent Living Residents of a Continuing Care Senior Housing Community: Sociodemographic and Clinical Associations of Cognitive, Physical, and Mental Health

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Objective: To examine associations of sociodemographic and clinical factors with cognitive, physical, and mental health among independent living older adults in a continuing care senior housing community (CCSHC). Methods: This was a cross-sectional study at the independent living sector of a CCSHC in San Diego County, California. Participants included English-speaking adults aged 65–95 years, of which two-thirds were women. Of the 112 subjects recruited, 104 completed basic study assessments. The authors computed composite measures of cognitive, physical, and mental health. The authors also assessed relevant clinical correlates including psychosocial factors such as resilience, loneliness, wisdom, and social support. Results: The CCSHC residents were similar to a randomly selected community-based sample of older adults on most standardized clinical measures. In the CCSHC, physical health correlated with both cognitive function and mental health, but there was no significant correlation between cognitive and mental health. Cognitive function was significantly associated with physical mobility, satisfaction with life, and wisdom, whereas physical health was associated with age, self-rated physical functioning, mental well-being, and resilience. Mental health was significantly associated with income, optimism, self-compassion, loneliness, and sleep disturbances. Conclusion: Different psychosocial factors are significantly associated with cognitive, physical, and mental health. Longitudinal studies of diverse samples of older adults are necessary to determine risk factors and protective factors for specific domains of health. With rapidly growing numbers of older adults who require healthcare as well as supportive housing, CCSHCs will become increasingly important sites for studying and promoting the health of older adults.