The annual Environments for Aging (EFA) Conference, cosponsored by the publishers of Long-Term Living (LTL), Environments for Aging, and HEALTHCARE DESIGN (HCD), in conjunction with the Society for the Advancement of Gerontological Environments, The Center for Health Design, and the International Interior Design Association, is now in its sixth year. The conference, which will be taking place April 29 – May 1, 2012, is an opportunity for attendees to gather and learn about the most up-to-date ideas for designing and creating healthy, practical, and attractive environments for people as they age.

In this first of a two-part preview of the session, “Creating Aging-Friendly Green Communities,” to be held at 3:15 p.m. on Monday, April 30, 2012, Jane Rohde, AIA, FIIDA, ACHA, AAHID, principal, JSR Associates Inc., Elizabeth (Betsy) Brawley, AAHID, IIDA, CID, principal, Design Concepts Unlimited, and Patricia Sheehan, editor-in-chief, LTL, and EFA discuss the conference with HCD Associate Editor Shandi Matambanadzo.


Elizabeth (Betsy) Brawley: It’s probably one of the few conferences that spans a lot of the healthcare issues that we talk about. It’s for senior living and similar types of settings. We’re seeing more seniors in hospitals today because of the fact that so much of the population is a great deal older. Most of what we do at this conference has to do with senior living communities and that’s everything from adult daycare all the way through to CCRCs that offer everything from independent living to skilled nursing and Alzheimer’s disease care.

Jane Rohde: The scale of the conference allows more personal connections because it’s smaller. You get to chat about what you’re working on, what you’re doing, why you are here, what’s interesting, what research you’ve been doing, and what you have seen recently  in culture change. So you get to have a better dialogue that you wouldn’t necessarily have at a bigger venue. It has a broad variety of people; you’ll see developers, end users, and some residents. It’s not only design folks specifically; it’s a nice cross section of different types of people who are in different sections of the industry.

Brawley: It’s an opportunity to meet a lot of the people that are coming into this part of the business or the design area.  You are able to work in smaller groups and really get to know some of the people that are at the conference and become familiar with what they’re doing. People in the industry really care about changing what healthcare feels and looks like and, in the end, what it does.

Rohde: You also get access to research opportunities. The presenters and the people attending the conference are passionate about what they do.

Patricia Sheehan: Environments for Aging offers attendees an opportunity to expose themselves to cutting-edge concepts and ideas that appeal to the wants and needs of the senior market. They can get all the information they need to master these concepts and create successful projects. The conference will cover the best practices of building, architecture, and design while providing the industry’s latest insights into the future of senior living. The conference will cover the best practices of building, architecture and design while providing the industry’s latest insights into the future of senior living.