Image Credit: Environments for Aging 

Didn’t get a chance to attend the Environments for Aging (EFA) Expo & Conference? The conference, which took place earlier this month in Salt Lake City, Utah, is one of the leading events to learn more about the latest research, trends, and strategies to meet the needs of our aging population. We sent our senior designers, Rachel & Annie, to participate and share their key findings and takeaways (as well as what they’d like to see next year!).

Here’s what they reported:

Unit Kitchen Size

Two sessions presented by different firms presented contradicting schools of thought regarding the size of unit kitchens in senior living.  Some say that with the increased dining options in today’s senior living communities (through formal dining, bistros, bars and more), large kitchens in resident units are not needed.

Others argued that Americans are accustomed to large kitchens as a status symbol, making it difficult to overcome the cultural expectation of a generous kitchen, even if it won’t be used as frequently as a residential home kitchen.

What are you seeing in your communities/clients?


Partnerships with Community Organizations Will Change Perceptions of Senior Living

We were excited to hear how some partnerships with community organizations are changing the perception of senior living.  In a real-life example, one CCRC offered free classroom and lecture space to outside programs and artists at no cost. This brought in scores of classes and activities that were available to both the broader community and residents – such as classes and clubs traditionally offered through rec centers like art studios, walking groups, community meetings, and aquatic fitness.  Last year, the CCRC hosted 5,500 scheduled activity programs – which is about 15 programs per day!

Over the years, the perception of senior living has improved, but there is still some way to go.  We’re looking forward to seeing a greater integration between community organizations and senior living communities. We believe this will not only help improve the perception of senior living but enrich the lives of all generations.


Amenity-Based Trends

Throughout the conference, we were not surprised to hear that amenity-based trends are continuing. Several architectural firms mentioned that new construction buildings need to include larger fitness and wellness areas (including pools) to accommodate the wave of healthier and more active seniors. We expect the amount and type of amenities offered to continue to expand, due not only to the wave of healthier & more active seniors but also to the increase in competition and the need to differentiate your community. Unique amenities help set communities apart, especially as potential residents and their families become more discerning in their selection.


What We’d Like to See Next Year

Our wish for next year’s EFA Conference? An emphasis on real-life completed projects including renovations and new construction, including post occupancy evaluations, lessons learned, experimental design & programming, and before & after renovations with statistical data. What do you want to see more of?

Overall, we were happy to be able to attend EFA again, and loved seeing our vendors, colleagues and clients!