Designing for an Aging Population
Those of you that have been with HEALTHCARE DESIGN from its humble beginnings as a once-yearly publication back in 2001 might remember that the concept actually sprung from a sister publication: DESIGN, an annual publication of Nursing Homes/Long Term Care Management magazine (now published as Long-Term Living.) While the name has changed--the publication and its affiliated conference are now both titled Environments for Aging--the concept has remained largely the same: to explore innovations and best practices in the design and creation of environments for the aging population.
With the changing face of healthcare showing new wrinkles every day, the worlds of acute care and long-term care seem to be growing closer all the time. The aging population--including the huge baby boom generation--have different wants, needs, and demands than previous generations, and healthcare systems are going to be forced to respond to those demands at some point in the near future. With one trend pointing towards hospitals only being for the very sickest patients, and another showing that people are living longer, healthier lives, and yet another displaying a desire to age in place rather than in any sort of traditional "senior environment," the synergy between acute and long-term care is already shifting, and looks to continue doing so as new generations age and express new desire. If healthcare is ultimately moving toward a consumer-driven model (and that is an "if" at this point, still), what will those consumers demand when they hit retirement age?
How many HCD readers actively do work in the long-term care world? I suspect many, but please do post here or drop me a line and let me know if this type of material is something you'd like to see more of from HEALTHCARE DESIGN. I have a feeling the two worlds are getting closer every day.
In the coming weeks, watch this site (and your mailboxes) for articles and interviews focusing more on senior environments, including an interview with Environments for Aging conference presenters Jane Rohde and Elizabeth "Betsy" Brawley, two of the leading innovators in the field.