What senior living environment would you choose for your loved one:
- An outdated facility with limited amenities and space which often confines residents to their shared rooms?
- A state-of-the-art community that encourages residents to lead an active lifestyle and move throughout the building?
For the last 25+ years, I’ve watched senior living communities transform as my own grandparents lived in a continuing care community. Through their insight and my experience in construction, I’ve witnessed residents’ needs influence design and construction of senior living communities more and more over the years. A lot of the current and future trends come from a change in the consumer’s expectation.
A facility consisting mostly of shared resident rooms was once common for senior living communities – but today, this layout no longer meets the residents’ needs. Instead, we’ve seen senior living spaces become active communities that offer residents the opportunity to pursue an engaging and social lifestyle with on-site amenities. To deliver this new type of space, design and construction teams are blending elements of hospitality, such as:
- Dining options Many of the forward-thinking communities have created a variety of exquisite dining experiences. Much like hospitality, senior living spaces are including restaurant-like areas throughout the building to offer a wide variety of food options.
- Wellness centers Active living and wellness are more important than ever, and senior living community providers are beginning to incorporate additional space dedicated to exercise. Fitness and wellness centers, yoga studios and group exercise space are being added into the building to encourage seniors to keep active.
- State-of-the-art technology The pace at which technology is changing is accelerating. Senior living communities have already begun to incorporate more technology to monitor residents’ health records, but they’re also looking to include technology throughout each room. Senior living communities must leverage technology to attract residents and empower providers to deliver the highest quality of care, including aging in place.
- Entertainment space In addition to incorporating spaces for exercise, more senior living communities are being designed to offer entertainment areas. These range from theaters and technology centers to outside patios and pools. While it was once normal for residents to be confined to their rooms, design and construction of new senior living communities is encouraging the opposite – allowing residents to continue to lead an active lifestyle and “breaking down the walls” to invite community members to spend time with residents.
- Prime location Where senior living spaces are being built is even shifting. More and more providers are seeking locations closer to mixed-use developments – allowing residents to visit nearby businesses and encouraging the community to also engage with the residents. A prime location can allow residents to venture further than their bedroom and continue to lead an active lifestyle.
Over the next 25+ years, senior living communities will continue to transform, but one thing will remain constant – residents’ needs will continue to influence design and construction of these spaces. Today, residents are seeking active and social environments and to meet their needs, providers are turning to the hospitality market for design and construction inspiration with the goal of creating a senior living community that feels like home.
With over 18 years of experience in the construction industry, Rob Reeves leads Kinsley’s Philadelphia region efforts with a focus on the senior living market.
Originally published in Mid-Atlantic Real Estate Journal.