There’s an estimated 77.3 million people in the Baby Boom generation in the U.S., which is 10 million more than a typical generation. And we're all getting older.
For several years, there's been talk about geriatric design for healthcare facilities. Holy Cross in Silver Spring, MD, was reportedly the first hospital to design a geriatric ED.
I wonder how it's working for them. And if boomers really want to go somewhere labeled "geriatric."
I know I don't.
But I know I'd probably benefit from some of the features that are designed for a geriatric ED. We all would.
- Treatment bays separated by walls, not curtains, for added privacy and quiet
- Thicker mattresses and heated blanket for patients
- Safety features like handrails, softer lighting and non-slip floors
- Special speakers that make it easier to listen to music or watch TV
- Telephones and remote controls with larger buttons
- Space set aside for private family consultations
- A centrally located nursing station so staff can keep a close eye on every patient
So why call it geriatric? Why not just design it for people of all ages and abilities and call it an ED?
I've often thought the same thing about pediatric healthcare design. Why wouldn't the positive distractions and other design features found in many children's hospitals be just appropriate for adults as they are for kids?
Oh, I get that part of all this is marketing and that design can contribute to attracting patients to specialty healthcare facilities. But please, don't call it geriatric.
When you think about it, we're designing for aging for people's whole life. Because, as I heard Dr. Bill Thomas say at the Environments for Aging conference a few years ago, aging starts right after we’re born. We go from childhood to adulthood to elderhood.
But make no mistake about it -- the aging of the Baby Boomers is going to present some design opportunities that we have only begun to consider. Some of my 60-something friends were talking the other day about which restaurants they don't like to go to because it's too noisy and they have to shout to hear each other.
Geriatric restaurants, anyone?
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