As people live longer, managing the needs of the aging population is more important than ever. The rapid growth in the number of patients over the age of 65, coupled with mass retirement of boomer-age providers, is putting pressure on an already-stressed healthcare system.
Healthcare leaders must address the complex needs and desires of aging individuals while maintaining the bottom line. And while strategies to support aging should focus on minimizing the strain of disability And illness, there is a large diversity among older generations and the strengths and assets of older individuals must be nurtured as well.
Universal Design Models are changing the lives of aging individuals for the better, enabling flexible and adaptable spaces to support individuals with a range of abilities. Additionally, medical and technological advances are allowing aging individuals to receive medical care in the comfort of their own homes. The Impact Of Aging Toolbox is aimed at helping facility designers and medical professionals understand and implement the best possible solutions to support the challenges and opportunities brought about by the growing senior population. These innovative solutions support:
- Universal Design as Sustainable Design
- Intergenerational Workplaces
- Intergenerational Communities
- Aging in Place
- In-Home Hospitalization
- Minimizing Transitions among Care Settings
- Mobile Health and Telemedicine
The Impact Of Aging Toolbox Contains:
An Issue Brief and Executive Summary
- “Universal Design: Designing for Human Needs”, an executive summary and issue brief, outlines the current state of aging and associated health outcomes, the alignment between universal design and sustainable design strategies inspired by environments for aging, and universal design models that enable flexible and adaptable spaces to support aging needs and human needs”.
- "Memory Care: The Intersection of Aging and Mental Health", an executive summary and issue brief, outlines the personal abilites and unique challenges faced by aging individuals, including those living with Alzheimer's disease and other dementias, and how thoughtful design can reduce stress associated with declining physical abilities, memory loss, and care provision.
- "Healthcare at Home: A White Paper," an issue brief, outlines how a radical shift in the provision of healthcare is occurring. Within the past decade, advances in medical technology, changes in reimbursement structures, the desires and complex care needs of an aging population, and innovative care delivery models have initiated a shift from providing care in hospitals to outpatient settings. And more recently, the acceleration and amplification of these factors is pushing healthcare options even further from the traditional inpatient and outpatient settings towards acute and subacute care in the home.
Two Design Tools
- "Universal Design Strategies: Impact of Aging Considerations Checklist," this tool is meant to support a universal design approach to environments for aging populations.
- "Dementia-Supportive Environments: Considerations," explores the understanding the personal abilities and unique challenges faced by aging individuals, especially those living with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias, better equips design teams to create supportive care and living spaces. Changes that can be credited to dementia are noticeably different from the changes typical of normal aging, but both can occur at the same time.
- Aging often involves a multitude of changing needs and priorities. However, there are human needs and desires that remain constant throughout the life course. Design strategies for aging must not only address basic physiological and safety needs, but attend to higher-level human needs as well. The universal design approach is being adopted by many forward-thinking designers who aim to support equitable, flexible, and accessible environments for all users.
- Understanding the personal abilities and unique challenges faced by aging individuals, especially those living with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias, better equips design teams to create supportive living spaces. Devising goals that target single symptoms and objectives is not always practical, however, because changes associated with aging, Alzheimer’s disease, and other dementias tend to appear in “clusters” rather than in isolation. The design-based evidence associated with designing supportive memory care settings results in 12 programmatic design strategies.
"How the Physical Environment in a Special Care Unit Impacts Dementia Patients’ Quality of Life," learn how the physical setting of a special care unit for dementia patients can affect their behavior in both positive and negative ways, design features that may help engage residents and foster socialization, and strategic choices of flooring surfaces, flooring transitions, and wayfinding that can help create a safer environment.
"A Virtual Nature Experience Reduces Anxiety and Agitation in People with Dementia," learn about the capacity of a virtual nature experience to significantly reduce stress, reduce anxiety, and increase pleasure, and treatment strategies that provide hope of reducing pharmacologic interventions and of improving quality of life for individuals with dementia and the staff who care for them.
"State-of-the-Art Medical Center Provides Senior Services Designed to Accommodate an Aging Population," learn how UMCPP accommodates the unique needs of senior citizens through a special ED unit, design features that were included to help older patients and their families better navigate the space, and the hospital’s acute care for the elderly (ACE) unit, and why it is configured to transition senior ED patients for an inpatient stay in the most supportive environment.
"Green House Design: A Natural Fit for Elder Environment," learn about the homelike model for resident care Riverside Assisted Living Facility Administration wanted to apply, the full-scale mock-ups of the proposed living spaces that launched the project, and the ‘neighborhood’ concept that enables greater resident independence as well as safety.
"Building Smaller Spaces Can Have Large Effects on Resident Satisfaction", an interview with Mitchell S. Elliott, AIA, learn how to think big when building small; how a smaller environment can benefit residents and caregivers; and SAGE and its mission to unite industry leaders, healthcare providers, and consultants.
"How Building a Purposeful Environment Can Impact Assisted Living Residents, an interview with Kelley Hoffman, Learn about: the importance of using durable products and finishes in senior living environments, the key to designing a functional and effective senior living environment, and how manufacturers, designers, and industry leaders collaborate to improve the lives of the aging population.
"How Strategic Design Choices Can Address the Impact of Aging While Meeting the Needs of All Generations", an interview with Maggie Calkins, PhD, learn why the needs of older people are often overlooked, how universal design can support people as they age, how universal design also benefits people of varying abilities and generations, and the need for designers to think about functionality in new and existing spaces.
"Incorporating Social Connectivity Into the Built Environment to Accommodate Aging Populations," an interview with Charlotte Yeh, M.D., learn about the need for current healthcare systems to accommodate a growing number of older Americans, how healthcare needs change as people age, design features that can help older patients feel more at home in an inpatient setting, and how home design can contribute to personal health and satisfaction over time.
"Designing to Sustain Energy & Ability Throughout Aging: Strategic Implications and Opportunities," an interview with Lorraine Hiatt, PhD, learn about why the imagined and built environment needs to take a broader, more deliberate role in supporting aging patients, the tools that designers and providers must use to create supportive physical and social spaces, and information that visionaries, collaborators, and patients can share to streamline the design process.
Impact of Aging Related Resources, this list of resources is made of up of articles, books, policies, organizations, and more, related to the impact of aging. Use this list to learn more about this topic.
Lessons Learned About the Impact of Aging, the following are compiled from research literature, case studies, interviews, and other materials to provide an overview on the topic of aging populations.
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