Category Archives: Architecture

Designing Senior Living Facilities to Enhance Socialization

A plan for connection, conversation and companionship


Designing Senior Living for SocializationIf the recent social distancing protocol has taught us anything, it’s that we crave daily human interaction. The innate need to socialize is real for people of all ages. Yet, as some adults enter their golden years, socialization tends to decrease due to retirement, the loss of family members and friends, or an increasing lack of mobility. We know this lack of daily interaction can lead to depression, cognitive decline and a higher risk for health conditions such as high blood pressure, heart disease and obesity. On the contrary, those who maintain meaningful contact with others experience a boost in mood and cognitive function, an increased sense of purpose and well-being and in some cases, a longer life. Designing senior living facilities to bring people together can promote connection, conversation and companionship to improve your residents’ well-being.

Design trends good for the mind, body and soul

Here at CLS, we understand the importance of keeping residents socially connected and physically active. Whether you are looking to do more with the space you have, planning a renovation or building a new facility, we offer the latest in design to enhance socialization.

 Spaces for friends and fellowship

 Incorporate communal spaces to promote mixing and mingling. Hallways provide plenty of opportunity for interaction. Include alcoves throughout the corridors and benches along walls to provide a space for friends to chat or to have a by-chance encounter with a passerby. Community cafes are another senior living design trend that helps friendship take bloom. Small group spaces reminiscent of home family rooms for playing games and putting together puzzles, as well as homestyle kitchens where residents can cook, bake and take cooking classes together promote staying active and connected.

Creative quarters

 Whether they build, paint, crochet or sew, spaces designated for crafting allow minds and fellowship to thrive. Incorporate an art studio complete with natural light and supplies and host a gallery walk where, together, residents can view art on display. Consider space on your grounds for a workshop for building and sculpting and recruit your seasoned carpenters to teach an instructional class. And incorporate maker spaces for crafts of all kinds—from painting and drawing to quilting and crafting. Hold a Saturday market in a common area where residents, staff and visitors can view and purchase art on display.

Outdoor spaces

 Gardens, walking paths and courtyards encourage fresh air, fitness and friendship. Whether to take in the beauty of nature or to get some physical activity, a space designed to enjoy the outdoors is a must. Incorporate eye-catching landscape elements like fountains and ponds, plant shrubs and bushes that attract birds and butterflies, and incorporate several sitting areas where residents can picnic, birdwatch or simply shoot the breeze.

Music rooms

Nothing brings people together like music. A designated music room or multi-purpose room with proper acoustics can encourage gathering to create, harmonize and worship. Whether residents use the room to make their own music or invite weekly performers, staff, visitors and residents alike are sure to enjoy all it has to offer.

Wellness areas

 Today’s seniors are living active lifestyles. Help them get their daily dose of activity and social interaction by providing space for fitness activities like yoga, Pilates, thai chi or strength training. Consider incorporating a fitness studio built to house treadmills, elliptical machines and incumbent bikes. Or turn a multi-purpose room into a fitness studio for aerobic classes and personal training. Also trending is to incorporate in-room fitness spaces for home workouts. Home workouts don’t have to be done alone. Offer buddy training where residents can work out with a friend.

Senior living design with socialization in mind

CLS specializes in designing senior living facilities with you and your residents in mind. To incorporate these and other senior living design trends in your new facility or remodel, set up a free consultation or call 920-969-9344.

Senior Living Design Trends

Learning from the latest in senior living construction

 A few months back, Senior Housing News discussed four senior living design trends that are crisscrossing continents. While a common thread unites the trends, each takes on its own local flavor in places like China, Europe and the United States. We’ve noticed the trends, too, and in some cases, we’ve been a part of making the trend a reality for our clients.

Let’s take a look.

1. Resort-style living

Some areas of China have gone big on this trend—literally—building sprawling campuses where interiors and exteriors are nearly seamless. Construction costs keep the trend of expansive campuses from taking hold in America. But, a focus on wellness, not just living, means that integrating outdoor and indoor spaces has become an important design consideration. Like they would in their own home, residents want the luxury of exercising, gardening, or hosting family and friends outdoors. And, having visual and direct access to outdoor spaces improves the well-being of all residents, no matter where they are in the continuum of care.

At CLS, we put significant emphasis on outdoor spaces when designing our senior living construction projects. We ensure spaces are safe, welcoming, accessible and easily viewed from indoors. We understand how essential natural light is for interior spaces—expansive windows installed in common areas improve the well-being of residents and employees, alike.

2. Luxury living

Resort-style living is luxury living, but luxury also encompasses what senior living facilities offer in amenities, some mimicking what you’d find at 5-star hotels, including concierge services. In the Far East, luxury living is combined with modern Western design. In the United States, the ultimate in luxury senior living communities demand entrance fees of up to $1 million and thousands of dollars in monthly charges. While the latest senior living communities now offer a fitness center, salon and swimming pool, these luxury communities also boast wine cellars and restaurants with classically trained chefs.

While most of us cannot afford to live out our lives in such extravagance, the trend of continuing to remain active long into retirement permeates all income levels. Baby boomers and their children, who often help make living arrangements for their parents, are demanding more amenities from senior living communities. These seniors don’t want to feel like they are “in a home” but rather, “at home.” To accommodate these needs, we build facilities with bistros and dining rooms, areas for hobbies, libraries and more.

3. Connecting senior care and healthcare

Around the world, senior living providers and health care organizations are realizing the need for greater collaboration. It makes economic sense. After all, they are vying for the same resources, namely labor, as we are experiencing here in the United States. In some areas, these collaborative organizations are locating near neighborhoods, where seniors—and people of all ages—can enjoy the benefits of intergenerational living.

4. Adaptive reuse

This senior living design trend involves repurposing buildings specifically for senior living communities. It’s happening throughout the United States as our aging population needs care while offices, malls and other commercial buildings sit empty. The trend is also popular in Europe, which is experiencing the same population shift in cities where land is extremely limited and now-empty historic buildings have stood the test of time.

Not every adaptive reuse project makes sense. But if a comprehensive master plan indicates that it’s a viable option, repurposing a building that is past its prime may be economically savvy, , compared to building from scratch. And because potential sites are often located in the heart of cities, seniors will welcome living near cultural and other amenities. In one of our adaptive reuse projects, we converted a former medical clinic into Grancare Gardens, an assisted living facility that helped create a continuum of care on one campus.

Rely on our senior living construction expertise

At CLS, we stay at the forefront of senior living design trends. By doing so, we can provide you architectural design and building recommendations to enhance your marketability and stay ahead of the competition. If you would like to discuss how to modernize a current facility or build new, complete our contact form or call 920-969-9344.

Creating Communities with Pocket Neighborhoods for Seniors

Pocket neighborhoods – the future of senior living

As the number of retirees continues to increase, so does the demand for housing that matches the wants and needs of seniors ages 55 or more. And what do seniors want and need? They are looking for social interactions with people their own age, they want some choice in housing options and they want to remain active. One option that is becoming popular around the United States is pocket neighborhoods. With a small footprint and easy access to senior services, pocket neighborhoods often check all the boxes for senior housing.

What is a pocket neighborhood?

Pocket neighborhoods are planned communities featuring multiple single-family homes or duplexes centralized around services and community spaces. Each home is designed with style, affordability and ease of maintenance in mind. Homes are built in close proximity to shared resources, such as a community center, activities facility or green space.

Ranging from just 1,000 to 1,500 square feet, these single-family homes are much smaller than the average 2,500 square foot home. While intentionally small, pocket neighborhood homes are big in convenience. Because they are designed and positioned to build a sense of community, seniors who choose them as an independent living option have ample opportunity to visit neighbors and take advantage of shared services, conveniences and activities they may not otherwise have access to, all while enjoying privacy and independence.

Benefits of pocket neighborhoods

There are the initial benefits of pocket neighborhoods, such as access to services and common spaces, and then there are the deeper, more meaningful benefits. By building an intentional neighborhood for seniors who are invested in the idea of building a thriving community, you can create a sense of belonging and ownership for those who reside there. Truly, the benefits of pocket neighborhoods for seniors are three-fold:

  • Physical. By placing homes in close proximity to services and activities, the ability for seniors to participate in activities increases and enhances their independence.
  • Emotional. By developing a sense of community, pocket neighborhoods bring people together who would otherwise be isolated.
  • Mental. Being part of engaging conversations and participating in activities help seniors stay alert and maintain cognitive function.

Many retirees may not have family living close by. Pocket communities curb the sense of isolation and disconnectedness seniors may feel and replace it with feelings of closeness and community.

Pocket neighborhood design – an emerging market

While still a relatively new concept, pocket neighborhoods are popping up across the country. Indiana, Washington, California and Massachusetts have developed communities in rural, urban and/or suburban settings. And, while a sense of community is important, so is a sense of style and function. And today’s retirees are looking for more—more  style, more accommodations and more attention to independent living design. With attention to style, placement and planning, pocket neighborhoods can be designed as a single community or as individual pockets within larger community, as long as all seniors have access to the same services, activities and sense of community.

By creating an inner space with no public roads that traverse the neighborhood, communities feature sidewalk-lined homes that lead to front porches for visits and encourage walking to community activities or services. To enhance privacy, bathrooms and bedrooms are generally placed at the back of the home.

Which seniors are best suited for pocket neighborhoods?

While pocket neighborhoods are beneficial to all ages, their connectedness and availability of services make them exceptionally suited for retirees who enjoy:

  • Easy access to living services
  • Independence and privacy
  • A sense of community

However, pocket neighborhoods are not the best-fit solution for seniors in need of memory care or assisted living services. 

Learn more about pocket neighborhood solutions for seniors

At Community Living Solutions, we specialize in creating senior living communities that meet the evolving needs of seniors. By partnering with senior living providers and developers, our caring team is devoted to providing our clients with the expertise needed to serve aging communities.

To learn more about our solutions or how you can make pocket neighborhoods part of your aging community, complete our contact form or call 920-969-9344.

How Senior Housing Design is Taking on the Rental Market

Apartment living is the future for more seniors

It used to be that the American dream was to own a home where you raised a family and later became an empty-nester, welcoming grandkids for holidays and backyard gatherings. Downsizing to a smaller home or condo may have been a rite of passage for some, but certainly most would never have considered renting during retirement.

But today, what we think of as a traditional retirement is changing rapidly, and along with it, senior housing design. According to a study by RENTCafe®, people aged 55 and over—or empty-nester baby boomers—are the fastest growing renter population in the United States. This new crop of renters is highly educated and seeking an urban or suburban lifestyle, one we often associate with the millennial generation.

The search for an active lifestyle

While some may laugh at the saying “40 is the new 30,” it’s true that many people no longer feel or act like generations before them. It’s especially true for seniors, who want more out of retirement—and life. Their lives have been shaped by formative decades, from the 1960s to the 1980s, a time of radicalism and creativity.

What’s more, while we in the industry classify senior housing construction projects as 55-plus, the fact is that the average move-in age at a senior rental property is 82. People in their mid- to late-50s are still employed, some with children at home. And, 60% of Americans over 60 say they’ll hunt for a new job after retiring from their profession. Moving into what we think of as traditional senior housing is far from their minds.

And healthy, active seniors in their 70s and 80s are seeking housing based on wants, not needs. What do they want?

  • Walking distance to shopping, entertainment and restaurants
  • The opportunity to socialize where they live
  • A less institutional atmosphere—the ability to feel “at home” even if they don’t own their home
  • Physical and emotional safety of living in close proximity to others of similar age

Quite often, apartment living fills all of these wants. And while the great majority don’t want to live among young children, many do welcome a senior housing option that includes spaces for singles or couples without children from younger generations.

What they look for in senior housing design

If senior housing design tastes were ice cream, today’s seniors would not choose vanilla. Their tastes are much more sophisticated to include:

  • Custom furnishings
  • Large, open floor plans
  • Interior amenities like walk-in closets and full kitchens
  • Communal areas inside and outside the building
  • Swimming pools
  • Fitness facilities
  • On-site public spaces, like cafes or entertainment

The challenge when designing a senior housing apartment facility is not only to attract residents in a competitive environment but also in its flexibility to serve the aging population as their health declines. If done right, a senior housing construction project will keep residents content and comfortable as long as their health allows.

Seeking a senior housing design expert?

We at Community Living Solutions have expertise in what seniors are looking for in independent, active living. Ask us about our senior housing design process that includes master planning and construction management. For a no-obligation consultation, complete our contact form or call 920-969-9344.

Senior Living Construction Opens in Keystone, Iowa

Facility celebrates with ribbon cutting

Community Living Solutions and Keystone Nursing Care Center in Keystone, Iowa, celebrated completion of phase one on a 12,350-square-foot senior living construction project, hosting a ribbon cutting in late February.

The first stage of CLS’ design-build project included a one-story addition with 10 short-term rehabilitation beds, four long-term skilled care private rooms and an inpatient/outpatient therapy center. As we try to do with most projects, CLS teamed with many local and regional contractors to complete the project.

The addition’s interior design has features unique to Keystone—it incorporates photos taken by staff of the local community and environment to help residents and rehab patients feel at home.

“The goal of this project was to provide a more private and comfortable space for short-term rehabilitation patients,” said Aaron Klug, CLS architectural production manager. “The therapy center is now three times its previous size, and patients will enjoy using a separate, private entrance for outpatient therapy.”

CLS will complete the senior living construction project’s second phase this spring. It includes a 400-square-foot commercial kitchen as well as other building and courtyard renovations.

Keystone Nursing Care Center, a 45-bed senior living facility, opened in 1973. It also serves residents in its assisted living complex and independent living apartments.

Senior living design is all we do

If you’re interested in expanding your senior living facility, give us a call at 515-478-3544. Our team of senior living construction experts can help you navigate Iowa’s building requirements, including facilitating a Certificate of Need.