When it comes to love and romance, most of us typically think of young couples. But what about relationships as we grow older? No matter our age, many of us have an innate desire for romantic relationships or companionship. And when it comes to senior living, seniors want to develop new relationships or remain just as close to their spouses as they’ve always been. In fact, it’s not uncommon for adults to meet at senior living communities and form a new romance.
Despite the fact that many seniors have or seek a special someone, most senior living communities are not designed with romantic relationships in mind. More often than not, communities include areas for meeting and socializing in a larger group, but lack smaller, intimate spaces and design elements that help spark deeper connections and 1-on-1 conversations.
Another consideration often overlooked is designing for spouses with differing care needs. For example, one partner may reside in assisted living, while the other lives in a connected memory care community. Without considering design elements to help foster relationships such as these, seniors may feel very separated from their loved ones and find it challenging to maintain this important relationship.
To foster relationships in all types of senior living, designing for connections to initiate these relationships between seniors is extremely important. There’s nothing more critical in senior life than staying connected to people and being part of a community.
Here’s how you can design for love in senior living:
Recreate Date Night
In any relationship, date night is a key element to keeping the romance alive. Senior living designers can create opportunities for these special moments by recreating typical date experiences, such as a night at the movies, a picnic, a wine tasting, a chocolate making or cooking class, game night, or more.
Designing a movie theater for date night could include organizing some seating to be in pairs – allowing for a more intimate moment. Including a lobby area outside the theater with casual seating and food amenities (sodas, popcorn or candies) sparks fond memories of arriving at the theater and treating your date to splurges and goodies.
Creating multi-purpose or specialty rooms that can incorporate programming for other popular date experiences like a wine tasting, cooking classes, or date night provides seniors the opportunity to enjoy these memorable interactions conveniently within the community.
Help Couples Maintain their Love
Design for scenarios in which significant others who have a differing level of needs and may live in separate buildings. If buildings are (or will be connected) offer an accessible, safe and inviting space for both to spend quality time together.
Grow Romance in the Garden
Creating a garden can give seniors the tools to take their loved ones for a real date. By including romantic fountains, charming flowers, intentional walkways, and tucked away areas, residents can feel “away from it all” as they take a stroll together through the beautiful surroundings and enjoy the private moment. And of course, these special areas are perfect for the aforementioned picnics! (Bonus: it provides variety in their day, encourages time outdoors and physical activity.)
Build a Chapel for Love
As you might expect, chapels are frequently found in senior living communities and host a variety of religious services and events. They are designed as a meaningful and beautiful area for residents to worship and find comfort. But these areas can be repurposed (or a separate dedicated wedding chapel created) to serve as areas for expressions of love. Consider creating this meaningful space for memorable life moments such as vow renewals and weddings. Having someone on hand who can officiate a wedding could also be a great idea to contribute to seniors relationships.
As the design of senior living communities continues to improve, we encourage you to consider design elements that celebrate love and foster these special relationships. (For further information, read how relationships are the secret to healthy aging.) If you have any questions on interior design for senior living, don’t hesitate to reach out!