Most of us can remember a time when our grandparents or great grandparents lived with another family member; maybe even in your own house. Only recently have we seen a wave of older Americans being placed into senior living facilities (SLF) in such high numbers. As the American family dynamic changes we are seeing baby boomers take in fewer aging adults to their homes and these aging adults living independently longer. This means we are seeing more and more baby boomers using SLF’s to care for their aging parents. With this phenomenon approaching in full force, it's important to plan for the future and prepare for the influx of older Americans living in this way in the next 10-20 years, sometimes referred to as the "Silver Tsunami".
From a psychological standpoint, our architectural design is based around a central idea that people don’t look at SLFs as a “last stop” anymore. As medicine improves, our aging family member’s quality of life improves, creating new standards for senior living design and a longer life. One of the new trends in senior living design is providing residents opportunities to stay active and engaged rather than simply housing those who can no longer be cared for by their families. As a leader in the senior living industry, Luckett & Farley has recognized this new standard and has adapted by adding more community spaces into its design, as well as programming for functions like yoga, physical therapy, entertainment or any number of physical or educational activities.
In addition to the active lifestyles we are accommodating, is the need to design tiered facilities for a multitude of ailments; we're not seeing many "one-size-fits-all" facilities anymore. Instead we are seeing facilities that have sections dedicated to basic care, memory care, skilled nursing, rehab and other, more specific lifestyles. This means that, as architects, we have to work closely with our clients to design custom features for certain facilities in order to offer the most enjoyable and efficient time to our clients and the residents to whom they cater.
The final aspect of the Silver Tsunami that I would like to point out is that these generations are not spending 3-5 years in a SLF, like the generations of old. Instead, we're seeing inhabitants stay in SLFs for upwards of 15 to 20 years. With this in mind, our designs must incorporate a homey feel that allows the resident stay to be relaxing and reminiscent of home and not that of a sterile hospital room. We must also take into account the medical technologies that have to be incorporated into each room, offering these jobs unique and interesting challenges.
For now, we are seeing the beginning of the Silver Tsunami coming into view, but we know the larger demographic is still right around the corner. In the meantime, we will continue designing cutting-edge facilities that create the unique experience that families are looking for when choosing a SLF for their loved one. Combining medical technologies and an at-home feel is not easy, but we are at the forefront of this design style and look forward for what's to come in the future.
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