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Anne DiNardo’s excellent post on the Environments for Aging blog this week explored the idea of designing spaces for active living with Kasey Burke of Meta Housing Corporation. What struck me was Kasey’s statement at the end, “the seniors of today are no longer satisfied with a community room and bingo.”

Were they ever?  Perhaps.  But what active living means to my parents, who are moving into independent living in a senior living community, is probably different than what it will mean for me. Or for my 20-year old son when he becomes senior citizen.

My son’s generation is so wired that active living for them in 40 or 50 years may be something like the holodeck on the Space Ship Enterprise in the “Star Trek” television show/films. We’re closer to that than you may think, as New York Times reporter Nick Bilton explains in a blog post earlier this year.

In addition to designing senior living communities that encourage life-long learning and active engagement, I think it will be important to be able to personalize those experiences. In other words, understanding that not every individual wants to engage in the same way.

For example, if you’re an introvert like me, you may not want to dine with others every meal or have social engagement with people all day long.  Being an introvert doesn’t mean you don’t like people or can’t talk to them.  It just means your natural tendencies aren’t to do this all the time.

So, as Kasey points out, creating smaller spaces for more intimate groups is important. Also spaces for privacy, relaxation, and interacting with technology. Although it’s quite likely that the seniors of the future will interact with technology where ever they happen to be.

What kind of senior living community or housing do you want to live in?

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Glenn

7 years ago

I would like to live in a place that we can worship, walk, ride bikes, dine, grab a good coffee, watch a movie or go to a play/ concert and do the things that we enjoy. It is a matter of our choice as to when and with whom we interact.
Our needs may change as we get older and the place we live would hopefully be able to adjust accordingly.
Freedom, flexibility and choice. With the technology to connect with friends and family.

Margaret Fleming

7 years ago

Here’s to Glenn, and thanks, Sara, for the topic. Right now, two things stand out for me, maybe three:

Safe places to walk a good distance. When my grandmother needed assistance, the home was in a neighborhood to scary I was afraid to visit with the kids.

When I grab a coffee, it’s for the atmosphere, the chances to be part of the group, maybe talk with someone – the brew is third or fourth on the list. I can study there and get away from my chores,or worries, and the music is…like the surprise tunes on the car radio.

Indoor activity – stairs to climb, a mirror to see if I do it right when I exercise or lift my dumbbells.

I want to get stronger, not weaker – there’s too much “weaker” in my age group already,and we’re not in homes yet.

Most of all, transportation to where WE Want to go – If the town won’t do it, then the home must, or a local group like Interfaith could screen inexpensive drivers like personal assistants when we aren’t sick and don’t qualify for home help.

And don’t forget a fridge-ette in the room!

Sara Marberry

7 years ago

Great ideas, Margaret!

Bill C

7 years ago

I like the point on being an introvert, honoring peoples personalities and need for personal space. We are long over due for weighing in on senior living, it’s been in trusted to a few who may not be motivated to change the experiences we’ve all come to accept.

Sara Marberry

7 years ago

Yes, and like everything, it’s complicated! Not to mention that many quality senior living experiences are economically driven.

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Sara Marberry, EDAC, is a healthcare design knowledge expert, thought catalyst, and strategic marketing and business development consultant. The author/editor of three books, Sara writes and speaks frequently about industry trends and evidence-based design. She can be reached at sara@saramarberry.com.

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