Ever since CE Pro and related brands were acquired by Emerald Expositions in August, I’ve been a little obsessed with all the cool sandboxes where Emerald plays – like high-end furniture, senior living and hospitality – all of which relate to our home-tech industry.
I promise you, this is not a sales pitch for Emerald … I’m just a little wide-eyed being in this new candy store.
As I’ve followed senior living for many years, I stumbled across an older article in “Environments for Aging,” an Emerald title that complements the organization’s conference of the same name, as well as the Healthcare Design Expo.
In “Building a Sense of Community Within Your Senior Living Community,” I found some interesting trends that could provide huge opportunities for home-tech pros.
We know that senior living facilities offer opportunities such as security, entertainment, lighting (especially tunable white lighting for wellness), indoor air quality, audio/video and more. But beyond the more practical aspects of technology, these properties crave solutions that foster community and engagement among residents and guests.
The author of the piece, Cynthia Warner of Warner Design Associates, asks, “How do we create designs that foster a sense of community?”
She highlights some of these themes:
The Summit at Sunland Springs, an assisted living community in Mesa, Ariz., has a gamily game room with toys, activities and a Wii gaming console for a family-friendly place that brings all generations together.
“This creates a sense of community among residents who not only get to spend time with their own families but get to know each other’s families,” the Warner writes, “like how parents and grandparents bond over watching their kids and grandchildren playing at a park.”
The property also features something like a man cave, but more politically correct. “The Garage” has recliners and a TV for watching the big game, as well as workstations for tinkering on projects.
“Imagine a group of residents discussing a time to meet to watch a game or work on projects together,” Warner writes. “Providing this type of space helps create the same opportunities for making connections that residents have become used to prior to moving into a senior living community.”
As Warner notes, a sense of community doesn’t necessarily have to involve active social engagement. Just being surrounded by others can help mitigate the loneliness that can be so detrimental to older adults.
She says senior living communities are creating “tech rooms” for residents to do their everyday computer activities – around other people, rather than alone in a room.
“Here, residents can feel the community around them and remove a sense of isolation, even if not engaging in conversation,” Warner explains. “Think of it similarly as to how we might spend time reading or working at a coffee shop instead of at home.”
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