4 senior living design trends to watch in 2017

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Four design trends will affect all senior living communities, from luxury living to affordable housing, in 2017, according to a new report from J+J Flooring Group.

The report, according to the company, is the result of industry collaboration, discussion and research during its third annual Senior Living Design Symposium, held in 2016.

The trends:

1. Defining home. Owners and operators are taking to a new level efforts to create places that are less institutional and more home-like, perhaps by offering design services to help new residents determine furniture and artwork placement or by offering them the ability to choose colors, finishes and materials.

When it comes to building design, the report noted, “Elements of home that resonate with people include fireplaces, intimate seating areas, live plants, windows and high ceilings.” Access to the outdoors also is essential.

2. Connection to community. Emerging models fight isolation by locating senior living communities in the middle of the greater community, enabling older adults to mingle with people of all ages during events and activities. Co-housing and “pod hotels,” with small rooms for sleeping but larger common spaces, also foster interaction. Design, however, also must offer residents the chance to disengage, the report authors noted.

Perhaps easier to implement for established communities than relocating, walking paths and outdoor gardens with places to sit and gather also are becoming more popular, according to the report.

3. Support for staff members. Progressive owners and operators, the authors said, are offering amenities such as staff break rooms, lounge seating, ping pong tables, full kitchens with free food, and sleep rooms. “Some are even designating a ‘captain's table' in the main kitchen, where staff eats together prior to serving residents,” they wrote.

Access to the outdoors is important for staff members as well, according to the report. Natural materials and finishes, nature imagery and the incorporation of windows with views, walking paths and gardens into community design can help staff members feel appreciated.

4. Details matter. “No matter what the size, scope or budget of the project, paying attention to the design details is what will make it feel like home, foster community and support staff,” the report authors wrote.

Especially at mid- to higher-priced communities, they said, design-savvy prospective residents and their adult children will be paying attention to décor, materials, colors and patterns, lighting, flooring and accessories. “And many understand the basic principles of senior living design when it comes to contrast/color, slipping/falling, mobility, etc.,” according to the report.

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