Environments for senior living are changing rapidly, as evidenced by the industry’s current emphasis on design. Senior Housing News invites yearly entries for their Design and Architecture Awards in every service category. The annual Environments for Aging Conference offers “the latest strategies and ideas for creating functional and attractive living environments that meet the needs of aging populations.” With design in mind, here are five value-based trends that are driving innovation efforts in senior living.
Operators and investors are flocking to the senior housing industry from hospitality sectors. Their expertise is pushing service to more competitive levels. Seniors, too, are demanding more amenities and social options from the communities they choose. To answer this demand, EFA suggests ten ways design can offer great hospitality. Combined bar and concierge services can create a social hub around daily needs. Ambient common spaces can change throughout the day to accommodate gatherings large or small. Pools, theater areas, or game spaces attract younger family members and invite multigenerational connectivity.
Technology’s rapid change necessitates flexible design, and senior living is no exception. Specifically, design that promotes wellness and community is flooding the senior living market, from pressure-sensitive lighting systems to assistive tableware. Many seniors also benefit from staying connected with loved ones through systems like bloom that require no passwords or logins. bloom is proximity-activated through a sleek, lightweight bracelet which doubles as a health and activity monitor.
Active Minds and Lifestyles
In their new book called Staying Sharp, Henry Emmons, MD, and neuropsychologist David Alter have gathered research to support that modest exercises and body-based meditations enhance pathways in aging brains to retain youthful energy and curiosity. They emphasize activities that revolve around three core traits: Resilience, vibrancy, and awakening. Design-wise, communities with access to trails or water, or which are built around natural features like atriums or aviaries, can stimulate the growth of new pathways in the brain and satisfy cravings that go beyond the material to enrich the mind.
Hosts of other factors, both cultural and socioeconomic, will continue to drive senior living design into the 21st century. Predictions about the future of assisted living may also increase demand for innovative design in ways that will allow America’s fastest-growing demographic to live to the ends of their lives exactly where and how they choose.