Senior living construction combines the community’s needs with best practices in design and construction. This combination is revealing new data-backed trends that are making their mark. Today, seniors are redefining retirement and no longer view moving into a community as a dropout of life. Senior living facilities are now designed to promote purposeful engagement.
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A significant reason people choose senior living is for the social aspect. However, aging in place may be better for some seniors, and building relationships with new residents can be difficult. Construction markets assisted living construction CA focusing on community building include easily accessible common areas to encourage interaction. It can aid in reducing loneliness, which has been connected to unfavorable stereotypes about senior living facilities.
A recent study asked participants to describe their experiences with the social environment and social cliques in two types of senior housing: senior apartments and a continuing care retirement community (CCRC). The study used qualitative open-ended interviews, and the results were analyzed using qualitative thematic coding. The results showed that a resident’s perception of the social environment relates to structural factors, such as community structures, and interpersonal elements, such as unwritten social rules and expectations.
Creating ample space for movement is a crucial aspect of senior living construction. It includes a sufficient amount of walking pathways in common areas, as well as ensuring each resident’s bedroom and bathroom have enough clearance for easy access. Including universal design practices, such as backing for future grab bars, also helps ensure each unit will be adaptable to changing needs over time. Providing ample natural light throughout the facility, especially in each resident room, also benefits residents. It improves vision, uplifts the mood, and saves money by requiring less artificial lighting. Contrasting colors can also help seniors differentiate between surfaces and planes, as they often have difficulty distinguishing similar-toned walls and floors. As demand for luxury senior living increases, facilities focus on designing spaces that feel like exclusive resorts. It requires a more open floor plan with multiple seating arrangements and rooms designed for different activities. For example, a movie theater, library and full-service beauty salon are gaining popularity amongst high-end clients.
While seniors may be unable to venture outdoors independently, they need access to natural light inside their homes. It can help stimulate the circadian rhythm, promoting healthy sleep patterns and increasing energy levels. It can also reduce depression by boosting serotonin and improving moods. Additionally, exposure to sunlight can strengthen bones and muscles by raising vitamin D intake.
Having natural light in living spaces is also crucial for senior safety. Seeing in low-light conditions is critical to avoid accidents in hallways and around furniture. Lighting must also be changed to reduce glare, albeit older persons may find it challenging to do so independently. While demographics are a strong tailwind, Mace says senior housing operators should focus on other factors to ensure they deliver what consumers want. For example, she cites the need to grow NOI in a tight labor market. It requires leveraging strategies like value engineering and design-build to drive efficiency.
While the coronavirus pandemic has hopefully put infections in the rearview mirror, it has inspired senior living operators to rededicate their focus on socialization, modernizing technology infrastructure and maximizing dining experiences. It has also highlighted the importance of a strong wellness program. One of the ways this can be accomplished is by encouraging residents to stand rather than sit for activities, including installing standing tables for card games and puzzles. Another way is to make exercise a part of daily life in the community by offering quality pathways and sidewalks and promoting the benefits of walking.
As the industry progresses from COVID-19, these three considerations will be key to a successful senior living construction project. Partnering with a firm that understands these trends will create communities where seniors feel safe, supported and connected. Stay tuned for future blogs that explore these important factors in more detail. The most successful projects are those that have the residents in mind from start to finish.