How to Design for 55+ Communities
For many families, changes in lifestyle, as it pertains to people aged 55+ can be quite intimidating. Being moved from your home and what you’re used to can be scary and take you out of your comfort zone. But Independent living and 55+ communities are not all that bad. It can be a way to rejuvenate the lifestyle that you are used to, and bring new life to your own, meaning it does not have to be a forceful move, but a choice.
More often, there is an overwhelming sense of community in 55+ living, causing people to choose these communities over regular condominiums. If you think about it, in these communities the residents lean on each other for commonalities in living habits. They can enjoy life knowing that they won’t be disturbed by loud teenage parties and small children when they just want to have a quiet night.
Just because you have moved into a 55+ community, doesn’t mean you need to leave your ‘home’. It is said that as young adults, 3 or 4 apartments were graced with your presence before you even started thinking of a ‘forever home’. We don’t think there should be a difference later in life, why limit new experiences simply because it may take you out of your comfort zone. The common phrase “Home is where the heart is” is more relevant than you think.
A common misconception about 55+ living, is the facilities are purely geared towards seniors in need of health support. However, health goes beyond physical needs. Mental health, and the desire for human interaction are just as important as physical health.
In some communities, physical health care may not even be available, the focus is then on the shared desire to live in a community where commonalities between residents outweigh the differences.
When you think of someone you know who is 55 and older what would you think of? What does their home look like? What do they do for fun? As designers we think about these factors and try to incorporate design features that provide a sense of home and reassurance for residents.
Some ways you can support the physical environment would be to include social and outdoor spaces in the interior designs and architecture plans. Interactions with friends and exposure to sunlight releases a chemical in the brain that helps promote happiness. You never know, perhaps moving into a 55+ community may be better choice given the new joys that may not be available in current lifestyle and habits.
At onespace we want everyone to feel included and at home. Our designs reflect our own perceived needs and desires in our living expectations, and what makes us excited to come home. We aim to connect with the residents and bring attention to the subconscious detail we aim to achieve when planning atmosphere and mood.
ROD L. ROWBOTHAM, OAA, MRAIC
CEO, President, Principal Architect