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Environments for Aging Conference Overview

EFA_Logo_ConferenceComing up April 9-12, the Environments for Aging Expo and Conference takes place in Austin, TX.

In most of the predictions for senior living’s future, speculation centers around technology, environments, and age-in-place supports.

The EFA conference provides a space to share goals and innovations around these topics and more. If you’re attending, here are our top session picks, plus EFA’s descriptions, for your conference planner:


Saturday offers a day-long dementia care pre-conference workshop and three community tours. Both the Buckner Villas and Westminster Austin tours showcase communities that offer a continuum of care from independent and assisted living, through memory care and skilled nursing services. Westminster Austin recently received the 2014 Gold Medal for the National Association of Home Builder’s Best 50+ Repositioned Community. Tours are available on a first-come-first-served basis to the first 50 registrants.


Gardens that Care: The Importance of Dementia-Enabling Outdoor Environments

(10:00-11:00 am)

Gardens designed specifically to support people with Alzheimer’s disease can minimize disorientation, provide essential prompts, and enable a person with dementia to engage meaningfully in daily life. Dementia-enabling outdoor environments are based on a set of best practice design principles developed by the presenter in conjunction with Alzheimer’s Australia and published in the book Gardens That Care: Planning Outdoor Environments for People with Dementia. Each principle aims to enable people with dementia to engage with the outdoors and connect with nature. Learn about these principles (orientation, accessibility, socialization, meaningful activity, reminiscence, sensory stimulation, safety, and sustainability) and best practices for their implementation.

Money, Innovation, and Differentiation

(11:15 am-12:15 pm)

Be ahead of the curve and don’t wait for disrupters. Join industry leaders and colleagues from across the country in a robust discussion that will blow apart current notions of long-term care offerings and set the stage for new strategies about money, innovation, and differentiation in the marketplace. In this fast-paced, highly interactive session, attendees will share strategies, discuss issues, and walk away with actionable ideas to differentiate their product, enhance organizational performance, and improve the bottom line.

The Community’s Response to Successful Aging: A Best-of Industry Panel Discussion

(3:15-4:30 pm)

Successful aging requires a healthy, vibrant, and responsive living environment. But truly successful environments for aging require a community-wide effort that coordinates housing with transportation, provides consistent community support and includes health services that allow seniors to remain active and healthy participants in society. This best-of-industry panel assembles industry leaders who are addressing these very needs. Hear what key urban areas are doing from a variety of perspectives and take away best practices to inform your own community’s response.


Senior Housing Globalized: When East Meets West in Home Design

(8:00-9:00 am)

It’s understood that Western design and social norms have influenced senior housing and product design in non-Western cultures. Less familiar is the fact that non-Western design and social norms are increasingly influencing and reshaping traditional Western aging environments. Presenters will share case studies and examples for how Western sensibilities are reshaping other parts of the world but also how non-Western influences are reshaping design in the West. We will discuss their different characteristics and explore a future that may be the synthesis of the two.

Digital Eco-Village in Multigenerational Living

(9:15-10:15 am)

This case study presentation highlights Elizabeth Square, a three-acre site that will yield 900-plus residential units and amenity spaces. The project has been developed around four driving themes: health and wellness, arts and entertainment, technology, and sustainability, with the goal to serve aging residents and the surrounding community. Elizabeth Square will designate itself as an energy cooperative and produce energy on site, with the possibility of selling off excess capacity to neighboring properties. It will also be the most wired residential community in the country, with high-speed Internet access for all residents regardless of income and employment of technology to deliver services.

The Technology Tidal Wave: Is Your Facility Prepared?

(2:30-3:30 pm)

The personal technology ecosystem, technology wearables, in-home telehealth, and the ACA are poised to have a dramatic effect on aging consumers’ expectations for living environments. Professionals in the environments for aging industry must understand how to embrace these changes. By developing a firm understanding of these forces, you can ensure that your facility will provide the type of home your future consumers will desire—and put you in a position to compete for their business. This program will explain the emerging technology forces, the power of personal technology in consumer decision-making, and the strategies to prepare for the coming changes.

Syncing Smart Environments with Senior Independence

(4:00-5:00 pm)

Groundbreaking products, devices, technologies, and designs will have a major impact on the delivery of services and care provided to seniors. This session will explore examples of innovative products, systems, and designs and how they can support quality of life for seniors. These new concepts and tools create solutions that return autonomy to seniors, promote social interaction, empower caregivers, and eliminate barriers. Presenters will share firsthand experiences with enhanced spaces where quality trumps quantity, less equals more, and discreet technology provides flexibility to spaces that enable independence. Discover how these radical shifts in thinking can impact environments for seniors and challenge the current norm.


Implementation of the Functional Program

(9:00-10:00 am)

With the adoption of the 2014 Guidelines for Design and Construction of the Residential Health, Care, and Support Facilities, there is a requirement to provide a Functional Program. This session outlines the Functional Program process through the use of case studies. Attendees will explore how utilization of the Functional Programming process can assist design and provider teams to better understand how to respond to resident-desired outcomes, the organizational vision and mission, and the operational aspects for each activity occurring within and around a senior living setting—all of which can be better supported by the physical environment.

An Innovative, Intergenerational, Community-based Model of Care

(10:45-11:45 am)

Orange Tree Village is an innovative housing solution targeting vulnerable populations. Based on the premise of a dementia-friendly, intentionally inclusive community, it’s slated to open in fall 2016. The
design facilitates the “wraparound” concept of services to support individuals along a progression of
care. It offers housing consisting of 107 suites for all income levels and ages, including a 36-suite personal care home operating as two- to 12-bed neighborhoods and a one- to 12-suite memory care unit. On-site child programming with an intergenerational creative arts room, multipurpose room, and movement room provides a sense of purpose to its elders.

Creating a Continuum of Care in an Urban Environment

(10:45-11:45 am)

This case study highlights Citra Symphony Park, an urban health and senior living complex, and will present a new model for a continuum of care in an urban context. Given the unique chance to design six program types within the same complex (memory care, assisted living, independent living, skilled nursing, MOB, and retail), the architectural team developed a new environment that would be supportive of the range of programs and appropriate for the site. This session will map the design process and discuss how synergies between the site context and senior living programs impact senior living, nursing care, healthcare, and the community at large.

Keynote addresses include presentations from Chris Downey, Ryan Frederick, Gail Kohn, Sandra Harris (Sunday), and Harry Moody (Tuesday).