Design Insider: A Look Inside Design Education

Sunrise Senior Living  |  June 17, 2016

Our in-house designers stay up to speed on the latest senior design trends with ongoing education, most recently attending the Environments for Aging (EFA) Conference & Expo.

Here are the top three takeaways from this conference that shed light on the direction for the senior design aesthetic:

  1. Designing for seniors with memory loss
    According to the latest research, many seniors are living from eight to 20 years after receiving a diagnosis of dementia. With that range in mind, understanding the physical side of living with memory impairment such as Alzheimer’s or dementia is critical for designers who are creating senior living spaces. 

    For example, a senior living with memory loss tends to not “cross over their center line.” So, if a person is right-handed but the sink is in the bathroom is on the left, it will be harder for that person to perform tasks such as brushing their teeth. In this case, a sink on the right would be more efficient. 

    Understanding these nuances is critical for accomplishing effective senior design, and the Sunrise design team has always been focused on building and designing environments that are easy to navigate and aesthetically pleasing.

  2. Designing with flexibility and customization
    Using the example of completed senior housing projects in New York, specifically the creation and use of modular kitchens, the Sunrise team learned about the importance of designing with an older person’s specific needs in mind. 

    The architect designing the tiny modular kitchens worked with a furniture manufacturer to apply the same space saving ideas used in mobile homes to solve special issues in compact living units. It also created the opportunity for more the adjustment of counter heights to better accommodate varying individuals’ heights. 

    This ability to adapt to the precise requirements of an ever-changing population is a key area of focus for the Sunrise design team as the group works to constantly adjust to our residents’ needs and preferences.  

  3. Impact of circadian rhythm and vision loss on design
    A seminar on lighting stressed the importance of building an energy plan around the cycle that tells our bodies when to sleep, rise and eat called the circadian rhythm (also known as the “body clock”). Designing with this in mind creates positive effects for both the inhabitants of the space and for conservation efforts. 

    The importance of designing with vision loss in mind was also stressed, underscoring that design choices are not all about lighting. Other important considerations include definition in colors and surfaces when you approach steps and transitions when going from indoors to outdoors. The Sunrise design team continues to incorporate new ideas and into our designs that create better environments for our residents. 
Keeping with our founders’ philosophy that “The best senor living is yet to be invented,” the Design team is focused on seeking design that is not only aesthetically pleasing, but reflective of a home equipped for varying care needs. Click here to learn more about our Design Team and meet the faces behind the innovative design in our communities!