America is getting grayer. By 2050 the number of Americans over the age of 65 will double, comprising a fifth of the population. That’s more than 83 million people, or about 31 times the population of Chicago.
Because senior housing construction is predicted to expand throughout 2016, companies should look for builders that can provide seniors with better living by designing retirement housing that caters to their specific needs.
Here’s how senior living construction can be improved:
- Build so seniors can age in place.
No one wants to live in a nursing home. Well-designed assisted living facilities can help seniors live semi-independently for a longer time. It’s important to consider features in each unit like a bathroom large enough to accommodate an attendant, windows that can be opened by someone with arthritis and doorways wide enough to accommodate wheelchairs.
- Make a building look like a home, not an institution.
No one wants to live in a place that looks like a hospital, either. Vernacular architecture that fits in with its surroundings and looks warm and welcoming should be considered.
- Make room for activities.
Include a large room close to the living area that can be used for yoga or exercise classes. Spaces for hobbies and crafts are another good idea.
- Choose a site that’s close to amenities.
Seniors may not be able to drive, so having shopping and recreation with walking distance gives them freedom. Consider building near an urban core, a shopping area or a park.
- Include facilities open to the public.
Build areas in senior housing complexes that can be rented by the general public for events. This allows seniors to mingle with the community. To ensure security, build a separate entrance for the public.
- Accommodate people with cognitive impairment.
As people live longer, Alzheimer’s disease and dementia will be more prevalent. Consider designing a building with memory care facilities. This means adding security features to prevent patients from wandering off. Provide an enclosed outdoor space, like a courtyard, so patients can safely go outside. Or consider a more novel way to keep patients safe, like the phantom bus stop at the Benrath Senior Center in Düsseldorf, Germany.
If you want to build desirable senior housing in Chicago, choose a firm that knows how to meet the needs of the aging. Contact us at Lenox Hill Construction to find out more about our design/build approach.