Northwestern University and the Mather LifeWays Institute recently published the year-one results of their research on the benefits of living in a “life plan” senior living community. At Clark, we are proud to be one of 80 life plan communities participating in the five-year study.

I often receive questions about why Clark participates in outside programs and studies. The answer starts with our mission of creating communities of dignity, compassion and respect centered on the lives of older adults and those who care for them. To continue to provide a high-quality continuum of services and care, we hold ourselves accountable to meet the everchanging needs of our residents. Clark’s core is resident-centered, shaped by individual need and choice. Research and data provided by studies from Mather and other entities help guide our decisions to ensure that our residents live active, engaged and meaningful lives.

National results from the first year of the Northwestern-Mather study show that residents who live in life plan communities, including Clark, report healthier behaviors – such as greater emotional, social, physical, intellectual and vocational wellness – than seniors who live in communities at-large.

Results like these demonstrate that the investments we’re making to promote social engagement and physical activity are paying dividends. We believe in enriching the lives of residents by expanding, not contracting, their interactions and experiences when they make the choice to live at Clark. It is immensely gratifying to know that approach is working. But there is definitely more work to accomplish.

Clark is currently developing an entirely new community in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The concept of this second campus is based on research from the Northwestern-Mather study, and on our own experiences and expertise dating back to our founding in 1906. This new community will be nestled on Keller Lake and built around a town square with open areas, walking paths, a restaurant, bistro, piazza and other amenities. We’ll also have a full schedule of activities and opportunities for residents, with the goal of bringing them closer together as friends and neighbors.

Clark, like other life plan communities, is committed to providing more than just living accommodations for older adults.  It is our commitment to provide residents with a sense of belonging, community, and a vibrant and active lifestyle. Every day, I am fortunate to see and share small moments with our residents, from conversations over coffee to laughs shared during a card game. It is the most rewarding part of my job – knowing that Clark provides a place where everyone feels like they are a part of a community, and most importantly, feels like they are home.

That’s why we participate in opportunities like the Northwestern-Mather study – to support the physical, mental and emotional health of our residents by continually evaluating, challenging and improving their experiences at Clark. We are proud to be a life plan community, and plan to continue to be at the forefront of innovation and creativity as we seek to fulfill our mission of creating communities of dignity, compassion and respect.

Brian Pangle is the CEO of Clark, a Grand Rapids-based senior living community.