What is Your Life Plan When You Turn 75?
Do you plan to change how you live and what you enjoy when you turn "senior"? Will you give up being a foodie and your love of wine? Of course not. You will be the same person you are today with multiple interests and enjoyments with more time to focus on your bucket list! Keep that in mind when designing for senior living environments. The correct term for these facilities is now "Life Plan Communities". I like it. It no longer labels the population as senior, therefore, aged and done. It means that the PLAN is to keep on living your best life.
The residents' best life might be different than you assume. As designers, we need to ask the right questions and get to know the community. By that, I mean the physical location of the community as well as the minds of residents within the community. Get to know everyone. Programming is not about asking the director and designated project team for information, it's going directly to the source. Ask Mrs. Johnson what her expectations are for amenities for herself and her extended family. Her children and grandchildren visit often and she would like to have quiet and active time with all of them. After all, she is the star of the visit. The designer and architectural group needs to support her needs to satisfy her and her family.
Mrs. Johnson wants to push her grandaughter on a swing and play a board game with her grandson. We owe it to her to provide a place to do that. She wants choices in the food venue and take her family to lunch, so we need to know that as well. Let's make sure we listen and accommodate all her needs.
When I walk into a facility and all is quiet, I am concerned. On the other hand, when I enter and hear laughter and chatter, I know I am in a good place. I am certain that the design team listened to the number one user group, the resident, and provided what they asked. You can FEEL the joy and celebrate living life with Mrs. Johnson and all her friends.