An environment for aging

Last month I equated much of our new “Environments for Aging” thrust with developments in city life. Fact is, though, EFA has a much broader implication, as evidenced in this issue of Long-Term Living.

This month we’re expanding our EFA department to make it our cover feature set. Four articles on various aspects of facility design relating directly to day-to-day operations (well, maybe not one of them, the story of a new hospice designed and developed through a unique team effort). But the other three have direct implications for you.

In fact, the interview with interior design consultant Jan Merutka (p. 16) deals head-on with an issue troubling facility management nearly across the board these days: how to renovate and otherwise upgrade an aging facility without busting a none-too-generous budget. We pride ourselves for the design advances we’ve been able to put forward over the years in the pages of Long-Term Living, its predecessor Nursing Homes/Long Term Care Management, and 12 annual DESIGN issues. But we also fully realize how upscale and well-funded many of these projects are. There’s nothing wrong with that—they make for interesting and (hopefully) informative reading and viewing; we trust that they offer at least some useful ideas for the less well-endowed majority. Still, this environmental issue is so important and so widespread in the field that it’s important to take things further than that. Jan Merutka does just that in her interview, describing low-cost yet ingenious ways to make an old facility look new.

The other two articles show why environment and its design are so important to the quality of life of those numerous residents who are vision- and/or hearing-impaired. Although there are many operational considerations in addressing these disabilities, the actual layout, lighting, and furnishing of the facilities housing these residents are crucial issues. Implementing the needed changes for the aging eye and ear need not cost an arm and a leg, as authors Julie Moller (p, 24) and Susan Mazer (p. 30) show.

One of the paradoxes of long-term care that I’ve observed over the years is the contrast between its public perception as quiet, inert rest homes for those near death and the complex, challenging, lively, and always-evolving reality. The design environment is no less complex, lively, and evolving. It encompasses everything from the new carpeting in the corridor to the downtown, full-service condominium. Which is why, among the dozens of issues involved in running a facility, we will explore the long-term living environment as deeply and comprehensively as any.


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Topics: Articles , Housing