By Peter Scialla, President and chief operating officer, Delos

[Partner content] On average, people spend about 90% of their lives indoors. For seniors and their caretakers, this amount of time has the potential to be even greater. The indoor environment, particularly air quality, has a direct impact on the health and wellness of residents, and the need for cleaner air in senior living communities has never been more important.

Seniors represent some of the most beloved members of our society and are also the most vulnerable, as aging bodies are less able to fight off illnesses. As the fastest growing population, adults aged 55-plus are living longer, on average, and are more health-conscious than ever before, seeking living environments that enable better health throughout their golden years.

The COVID-19 pandemic brought the importance of indoor air quality (IAQ) to the forefront, but respiratory infection prevention is only one of the critical benefits of good air quality. Exposure to air pollution, for example, can worsen already existing conditions of older adults, such as diabetes and asthma, and can also affect cognitive abilities. In addition, as we age, our bodies become less able to compensate for the effects of air pollution and airborne particles. It is thus critical to prioritize indoor air quality, and the onus is on senior living community owners and operators to create healthier and safer environments for their residents and staff.

In fact, IAQ is an important factor for prospective residents of senior living communities and their families in terms of COVID-19 and beyond. A Delos Consumer Insights survey conducted in September 2021 revealed that the public is more aware of the importance of IAQ in senior living communities. When it comes to choosing a senior care community, prospective residents and their families are also likely to consider the air quality improvement measures that a senior living community has put in place, before making a decision. According to 46% of the respondents, air purification measures were very important, and 63% said they would most likely choose one community over another based on prioritization of air purification.

This heightened awareness and demand for better indoor air quality means that seniors and their families are likely to continue favoring communities with proven solutions in place. Delos has deep cross-sector experience in improving indoor air quality through Advanced Air Purification solutions in schools, offices, commercial spaces and hotels. We use a rigorous process to evaluate independent, third-party product testing results, apply evidence-based and data-driven research, and consult industry best-practices to select products that stand up to their claims on performance, safety, efficacy and user experience.

While the health and safety of residents and employees is the top consideration for senior living owners and operators, there is another factor at play: scalability. The senior living industry is poised for exponential growth – the number of Americans transitioning to assisted living communities is expected to increase by 180%, from 15 million in 2000 to 27 million in 2050. The investment needed to prepare for this unprecedented growth can appear daunting, but in fact, a full infrastructure overhaul is often not necessary to provide residents and employees with healthier indoor conditions.

A peer-reviewed study from the Well Living Lab, founded as a collaboration between Delos and Mayo Clinic, evaluated the use of portable air purifiers in a classroom setting. The study found that supplementing an HVAC system with portable air purifiers can result in up to five times lower particle concentration, improving air quality throughout the classroom, not just near the unit. Portable air purification units reduce particle transmission both near the units and throughout the whole room, cost significantly less than a full HVAC system upgrade, and can be implemented immediately.

More scientific research is currently underway to advance our understanding of the importance of indoor air quality in senior living communities. Delos’ WISE initiative, in collaboration with senior living industry leaders, focuses on the impact of indoor environments on senior health and well-being. Innovative solutions are needed to help meet the growing consumer demand for communities that offer safer, healthier environments for residents and staff. Delos takes an evidence-based approach to identify products and solutions that work to help optimize health and wellness in indoor environments.

Improving air quality can help to not only reduce exposure to airborne pathogens, but also boost cognitive performance, facilitate sound sleep, and reduce the overall exposure to airborne particulates. As people worldwide are living longer, healthy aging is becoming more and more important. Now is the time for the industry to address the concerns of residents and their caretakers, and optimize senior living environments for improved health and wellness.

Get started by talking with a Delos Clean Air Expert today

Interested in learning more about Delos’ health and wellness insights in Senior Living spaces? Register for McKnight’s 17th Online Forum on July 19th