Senior living communities face significant challenges as older adults increasingly choose to age in their own homes. To adapt, senior living operators must focus on approaches that make communities and the accompanying lifestyle less “institutional,” according to USC professor of architecture and gerontology, Victor Regnier, FAIA, who will take the Mainstage at the Argentum Senior Living Executive Conference in San Diego this May.
Regnier’s touchstone has been innovative care environments in northern Europe. He notes that northern European approaches to senior housing with services are increasingly adopting the “apartments for life” concept. This Dutch building model eliminates the need for residents to physically make a transition to assisted living or skilled nursing. Rather, roving caregivers provide increased help as needed, and the communities offer small clusters targeted to residents with dementia.
Additionally, Regnier says integration with the surrounding community from a design and lifestyle perspective is central to this concept, and features borrowed from hospitality settings can also inform good design decisions. It’s also important to make family members feel comfortable when they visit—offer reserved family parking, create attractive landscapes that support intergenerational activities, and form programs that encourage family members to dine with residents.
Regnier holds a joint appointment at the USC School of Architecture and the Leonard Davis School of Gerontology—the only such dual appointment in the country. His conference presentation will address issues from his latest book, “Housing Design for an Increasingly Older Population: Redefining Assisted Living for the Mentally and Physically Frail,” which is due to be published in the coming weeks.
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