Mather Institute Wellness Model Cover

The idea that wellness means something different to everyone has inspired the Mather Institute to develop a Person-Centric Wellness Model meant to accommodate senior living residents’ unique wants and needs.

“We’ve come to recognize something crucial: wellness looks different to each person. It’s why we decided to supplement the wellness model that has been an industry standard for more than four decades,” Mather Institute CEO and President Mary Leary said, calling the new model a “game-changer.”

The research-based model, launched today, is designed to provide a guiding philosophy for senior living and other aging services providers. Rather than focusing on the six dimensions of wellness — physical, emotional, intellectual, social, spiritual and vocational — the Mather model focuses on individual and external factors that influence wellness, including individual, relationship, community and societal factors.

Mather’s Age Well Study previously found that greater happiness and life satisfaction wellness outcomes are associated with three wellness drivers: autonomy, achievement and affiliation. 

Leary told McKnight’s Senior Living that as the industry begins serving the next generation of older adults — the oldest baby boomers, who are turning 75 this year — there was a realization that a different approach to wellness was needed. Because the new model is person-centric, she said, it ties in with the “experience economy” that speaks to peoples’ desire for a customized experience.

“That’s what the boomers are all about: customization,” Leary said. 

The development process began with a review of existing models of psychological well-being and quality of life. Researchers also investigated positive aging to identify factors to incorporate.

Cate O’Brien, Ph.D, vice president and director of the Mather Institute, said the new model focuses on beliefs, knowledge and values to relationships with others and culture.

“You can be well with lots of different combinations and different levels,” O’Brien told McKnight’s Senior Living. “We wanted to get away from the idea that this plus this plus this equals wellness versus addressing fundamental needs and allowing people to flourish in their own wellness journey.”

People will benefit from a program when it is something they choose to do (autonomy), when they feel able to reach their goals (achievement) and when their efforts are encouraged by others (affiliation), according to a report about the model. The new model allows community staff members to support residents’ aspirations and help them identify and address challenges to achieving their goals, Mather said.

Related Articles