Stephan Baldwin is the Director of Business Development for Assisted Living Center, an online senior living directory.
For decades, senior housing was looked at as little more than an extension of a traditional healthcare environment. Seniors who could no longer live on their own spent the rest of their days in nursing homes, assisted living facilities and more – all so they could remain under the watchful supervision of medical professionals.
Times have changed, however, and senior housing has changed right along with it. Senior housing no longer feels like the cold, emotionless and scary hospital facilities from the 1950s and 1960s. Instead, they’re more comfortable, more private and ultimately more inviting – all of which is allowing seniors to live longer, healthier lives.
This article will focus on housing trends builders and contractors need to consider when designing or updating senior housing. Senior living no longer feels like a sterile hospital environment; resident comfort and privacy is more important than economy of space.
1. Sustainable Senior Housing
As costs are always a primary concern of senior housing staff, it should come as no surprise that new environments are being designed (and existing ones being updated) with energy efficiency in mind. There is a greater emphasis on things like natural lighting, improved air quality, energy conservation and more.
2. Putting the “Home” in Senior Housing
One key trend to keep an eye on involves creating an environment that truly mimics the appearance of a senior’s home, rather than that of a “nursing facility.” Spaces are being designed with layouts that more accurately resemble apartments and with warm, welcoming areas – as opposed to the cold and sterile senior housing of an era now long passed.
3. Hospitality Design
Hospitality design concepts are designed to bridge the gap between giving seniors the environment they want and efficient access to the care services they need. Concierge-like services, carpeted flooring, waterfalls and more help create an environment that is easier for the seniors themselves to live in, all while allowing the staff to remain as productive as possible in their role as caregivers.
4. An Emphasis on Privacy
Because part of the intention of senior housing involves giving older individuals the ability to live out their twilight years with as much comfort and dignity as possible, it should come as no surprise that one of the major senior housing building trends of the modern era is an increased emphasis on privacy. Gone are the days where senior care facilities look like hospitals with semi-private rooms and multiple occupants. They are instead being replaced by facilities with private rooms, private showers, spacious environments and more.
5. 21st-Century Senior Housing
Technology is also playing an important role in senior housing building, particularly in the last few years. State-of-the-art health monitoring devices are being incorporated into buildings, like motion detectors that can automatically alert caregivers if a senior has fallen and other options that make the facility less restrictive in general.
6. “One Size Fits All”
Senior housing building trends are empowering the facilities themselves to become more versatile, creating environments that service a wider array of people in one location. Facilities are no longer JUST for long-term care or JUST for assisted living – with the right design, the same staff can accomplish all of these goals under one roof.
7. It’s About Choice
One of the most important senior housing building trends of the modern era is an emphasis on choice when it comes to housing selection. Facilities are being designed with a variety of floor plans in mind, all in an effort to shift the idea that senior housing is less a place you go when you reach a certain age and more a comfortable living option comparable to something like a condominium.
8. An Active Lifestyle
Modern care facilities are beginning to lean toward letting the elderly continue to live the lives they want to lead, regardless of what type of life that happens to be. Senior housing is being designed with a wider array of amenities in mind like entertainment rooms, spas and even pools – all in an effort to let people be both as comfortable and as active as they desire.
9. Urban Senior Housing
For decades, senior housing existed primarily in the suburbs or in rural areas with the intention of letting the elderly live out their lives in a quiet, comfortable environment. Recent building trends have seen these homes return to urban areas, letting them exist alongside city centers, traditional apartment complexes and more so seniors can remain as connected to society as they choose.
These are just a few senior housing building trends that are worth keeping an eye on moving forward. With senior housing evolving in such a powerful and dramatic way in only the last few years, it’s incredible to think about the shape things will take just five or even ten years in the future.
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