Unique design aspects of senior living communities
Basav Mukherjee, chief revenue officer at Columbia Pacific Communities, believes that senior living offers a lifestyle rich in social, emotional, physical, psychological and spiritual wellbeing
The aspirations of senior citizens are changing amidst an environment where they are not retiring. They are simply dialling down work and dialling up life. Senior living communities are poised for growth, because they offer a differentiated lifestyle to the golden agers. These communities serve seniors by offering a lifestyle rich in social, emotional, physical, psychological and spiritual wellbeing. In addition, there is a heightened level of security, safety, medical support and overall comfort. Though ageing is inevitable, senior living communities support the seniors to be in better health and be more productive by offering freedom from chores such as cooking, cleaning, maintenance of the homes and the environment.
Some of the unique amenities are a result of the needs of the residents. Within these apartments, there is a much greater need of designing spaces that allow for ease of mobility. Some of the pain points that need to be addressed include additional clearances and spaces around the furniture. The bedrooms need to be able to offer space for a large double bed with ample clearances around the bed and furniture. Residents need much larger storage spaces, including large closets. In addition, there is a requirement of additional power points in the apartments.
The bathrooms are designed with extra care. The bathroom doors open outwards so that the space within the bathroom is not compromised. They are also much larger since they may need to accommodate a mobility device. There are no level differences in the bathrooms so as to avoid any accidents. High-quality grab bars are provided. In addition, the floor of the bathroom needs to have high-quality tiles that are slip resistant.
The apartment floors should have anti-slip tiles and should not have any level differences. The transitions between the apartment and the balcony should be flush with the floor.
Senior housing needs to provide ample green spaces to its residents. One of the unique features are gardening areas with raised planter beds, so that residents may tend to plants while standing or sitting and do not have to bend or stoop.
A very unique requirement of senior housing is the width of the corridors. The corridors have to be wide enough to accommodate two mobility devices and are equipped with railings on both walls for support.
Another important consideration is light. The lux levels in senior care communities are much higher, and light fixtures need to be installed correctly. It's important that ample emergency illumination is provided even if there is a power outage, so that the residents are never in the dark. The light within the elevator and the light in the elevator landing is at the same wattage, so that residents don’t have to adjust to different lux levels.
Since residents at senior care communities live at a much more relaxed pace, the elevator doors stay open for longer. This also helps residents with lesser mobility to enter and exit the elevators with ease. Senior living communities also have amenities that are adapted for the lifestyle of seniors, such as large clubs with sports, recreation facilities and supportive staff that are trained to serve seniors.
Each community has a well-equipped medical centre, with medical practitioners, nurses, fully-equipped ambulance and ambulance drivers. The medical centre has preventive services as well as emergency services.
The doctors monitor the health, wellness and any chronic ailments of the residents. The medical records of the residents is also maintained. Senior care communities have multiple restaurants and dining facilities. The residents are served excellent meals that are nutritionally balanced as per their diet. This is one of the most important aspects of life at a senior care community. The residents bond with each other over great food and conversations. The restaurant is designed for senior citizens with height, light and space suited for them.
One of the key facets of senior care is that residents are supported so that they live healthier for longer. The wellness and wellbeing amenities at senior care communities include gymnasiums, spa, swimming pools and salons designed for seniors. The goal of the physiotherapists, fitness instructors and grooming professionals is to engage the residents in activities, so that they remain fit, healthy and glowing.
With the population of seniors in India poised to grow to 300 million by 2050, there is a huge mismatch in supply and demand of high-quality senior care communities.
In the near future, senior living solutions, such as the examples above, will be integrated into most mixed-use developments and townships. Communities will be re-designed to cater to seniors. This will accelerate the scale of the category, to address the huge mismatch in demand and supply.