Michael Putnam

Updating your senior living community can improve the way it feels, making it more attractive to prospective residents. As they tour the various communities in your area, they will be impressed by how yours stands out.

If you’re looking to be more competitive, here are some budget-friendly ways in which you can improve the appearance of your community.

Private rooms feel like home

If your community has double-occupancy rooms, changing them to single rooms can enhance privacy for residents. Although you will be able to serve fewer residents, the ones you do serve will be willing to pay more for a room that feels like home.

Many older communities are adding a bathroom to each room, enabling residents to have a place they can go when they want to be alone while still receiving needed services.

Make common areas more inviting

Senior living communities often seek inspiration from hotel and resort designs for their common areas. Rich colors and soft materials are more like what you would expect in a five-star resort rather than in a sterile, hospital-like environment.

You don’t have to make numerous decorative changes at the same time. Instead, work in phases. First, paint the walls and replace the whites and tans with warm earth tones or pastels, or even bold shades, to create visual interest.

Select comfortable seating that is still senior-friendly. Group conversation areas to enable residents to visit with one another or with family and friends.

When you update the common areas, residents will want to spend more time there, and families will want to visit more often, which also will increase the satisfaction of the residents with their new home.

Add technology

Today’s seniors are more tech-savvy than they were a few years ago, and technology can enhance their lives. 

People who can visit with family and friends and be part of the world will stay alert and feel more satisfied with their living arrangements. Those with limited mobility can use computers to interact with family members on programs such as Skype and Facebook. If you haven’t already done so, consider setting up an area with Wi-Fi or computers with access for every resident.

In addition, new technology with monitoring capabilities can improve safety for seniors as they go about their normal activities. In independent living and assisted living communities, this technology can provide peace of mind for families and residents.

Green design

Sustainable design has become a popular trend in many homes, and senior living communities also can take advantage of this trend. Energy and water conservation features are beneficial from a cost perspective, and other features can improve the quality of life for the residents.

More daylight with large windows, for instance, as well as improved inside air quality, enhance the health of everyone. Views of gardens and other natural elements can create a peaceful environment for residents that calms or energizes them.

Special amenities

Another way to update your community is by incorporating special amenities in the center to provide for the entertainment and mental wellness of the residents.

A theater, spa or fitness center can help keep seniors active physically and mentally. These amenities are state-of-the-art and provide activities that fit a variety of personalities. If your community is located near a college campus, you may be able to facilitate resident access to additional cultural and athletic events.

Budget is an important concern when planning for updates to your community, including amenities. Once you have a dollar figure, focus on the changes will have the greatest effect on your current residents, and then market the changes to potential residents to show them how your community differs from others.

Redesigning or renovating your community not only will improve its look; it will enhance the feel and create an environment where people enjoy living. Your residents will feel at home and will invite friends and family. Those visitors will be more interested in coming to see their loved ones in a place that doesn’t feel institutional. In the end, your updates will bring in new people who prefer your community to others, which will ensure that your community has a solid reputation and growing revenue.

Michael Putnam, a certified Northern Virginia Realtor, is the founder and chief sales agent at Michael Putnam Real Estate, Fairfax, VA. With more than 15 years of experience, he has represented sellers, buyers, investors and banks. He has served more than 800 families.