07.05.24

Empowering Independence: Thoughtful Senior Living

In a time when nearly 80 percent of adults age 50 and over say they would choose to stay in their communities and homes as they get older, aging in place is an increasingly popular option for people looking to maintain their independence and autonomy.

Senior Living Article ImageAging in place refers to the practice of older adults remaining in their own homes and communities for as long as possible rather than relocating to senior living facilities. For this to happen safely and comfortably, their living environment needs to be adapted to accommodate the changing needs of an aging population.

Universal Design is an approach that can facilitate aging in place. This design approach focuses on creating environments that are accessible to people of all ages and abilities. Features such as wide doorways, no-step entries, and lever-style door handles make homes more accessible for older adults. Safety features might also include grab bars in bathrooms, non-slip flooring, and well-lit pathways.

Technology integration is also essential when it comes to aging in place. Smart home devices, medical alert systems, telehealth services, and medication management apps are examples of technologies that can help seniors maintain independence while staying connected to support networks.

Aging in place is also made possible with community infrastructure that is designed with an aging population in mind. Making public spaces like parks, sidewalks, and transportation systems accessible and navigable for people of all abilities can help seniors stay active and engaged in their communities.

While aging in place often conjures images of living independently at home, many facilities are now incorporating aging in place tenants to usher in a new form of senior living. Facilities are now starting to offer residential living in the forms of cottages and apartments in communities featuring amenities such as clubhouses, pickleball courts, movie theaters, restaurants, and more for active seniors. Assisted living facilities offer services that help with daily living including food service, hair salons, laundry, and medication management for seniors who need some assistance, but not constant care. The continuum of care in senior living also delves into memory care and skilled nursing facilities or nursing homes, where seniors can receive specialized care and 24-hour nursing services.

When staying in your own home is no longer possible, it is important to have options of senior living facilities that are thoughtfully designed. AHBL strives to design senior living facilities that incorporate aging in place values that enable older adults to continue to feel independent and connected to their communities.

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Wesley at Tehaleh Senior Living. Photo Credit: Morris Moreno

Wesley at Tehaleh Senior Living in Bonney Lake is one of these thoughtfully designed senior housing projects. The campus includes 136 independent living units, 42 catered living units, 18 memory care units, and a 24,000 SF town center. An on-site creek and nearby ponds along with views and vantage points throughout the campus emphasize a connection to nature and community that can enhance quality of life.

AHBL’s landscape architects also worked on Affinity at Mirabeau, a 62+ community designed for active adults who want to be a part of a vibrant social scene. Located in Spokane Valley, residents of this community have a variety of apartment options, on-site amenities, and nearby parks and cafes. Concepts like Affinity emphasize safety and accessibility while keeping residents active, independent, and integrated into the community.

AHBL also served as the civil engineer and landscape architect for a new affordable housing development in Tacoma. Mercy Rosa Franklin Place offers 61 affordable apartments for seniors, with an on-site community room and outdoor plaza for community members to gather and participate in resident services. 20 percent of apartments are set aside for households with a disabled resident, and one-third of the homes have a leasing preference for veterans. Located just blocks from two light rail stations and several bus stops, it is also near multiple healthcare facilities. AHBL’s landscape architects designed the outdoor courtyard, which offers residents a beautiful space to gather or enjoy a quiet moment. Safety features including grab bars and accessible controls ensure that seniors can stay in their apartment as they age.

We all want to age comfortably and safely. Aging in place and the concept and design principles behind it are at the forefront of our minds as we work on senior living projects. AHBL strives to contribute thoughtful design to the communities that help older adults thrive.

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