In the 1960s, the Nursing Home Standards Guide was issued, setting regulatory standards and outlining recommendations for all federally licensed facilities. Since then, senior living communities have seen many changes and trends come and go.
Assisted Living Trends to Leave Behind
These three assisted living trends may be best left behind:
1. Cafeteria-Style Dining
Dining is a very important element in the lifestyle of assisted living residents. Alternative options to the basic buffet or cafeteria-style of dining is an expectation many potential residents have. Senior Housing News suggests that bistros are also a thing of the past and communities need to be innovative to attract a new generation of residents. The article suggests that developers “get out more, and bring back some of the amazing, innovative aspects of dining that we are seeing. Think “foodie.” Blow up your bistros and start over.”
Offering a selection of dining options provides residents with choice and makes them feel like they are visiting a resort. A variety of casual, formal, take-out and short-order dining options will meet the needs of residents and set a community apart.
2. Large Common Areas With No Intimacy
Senior Housing News advises against the design of communities with large, wide-open common areas, while neglecting intimate spaces: “many communities offer a preponderance of large common space rooms and very few small, private spaces for more intimate gatherings,” they report. While a major appeal of moving into assisted living is the sense of community, there is still a need for private spaces where doors can be closed. Whether residents want to “play cards with a few friends, have snacks with visiting church pals, or watch a football game with a few buddies,” Senior Housing News points out that having a private location, as opposed to a large common area is extremely important.
3. Simulated Reality in Memory Care Communities
According to Senior Housing News, the simulated reality in memory care communities “such as fake porches, painted ceiling skies and pretend storefronts” is a stale trend that is on the way out. Faux doors to nowhere and shops that are unreachable are not beneficial for the health and welfare of people living with dementia and can in fact invoke confusion and distress.
There are, however, world-renowned memory care “villages” that have been designed meticulously for people with dementia in mind. The Village of Hogeway in the Netherlands is one example of a unique assisted living model that allows for dementia patients to experience real freedom and security. Alzheimers.net states that this village features “apartments surrounding a lovely courtyard complete with benches, rippling ponds, trickling fountains and vibrant seasonal flowers that make for a perfect sunny afternoon.” Registered staff trained in dementia care are scattered throughout the community and represent other “villagers” while providing support.
Rather than simulated reality, Alzheimers.net suggests “creating a positive environment, conducive to a senior’s comforts and needs,” including:
- Decorations and paint choices that incorporate soothing colors
- Distinct spaces, such as an activity, art and music therapy area, or a family visiting area, which can help cue specific behaviors
- Furnishings and spaces that resemble a community instead of a hospital
- Meals served in smaller dining rooms and at smaller tables to encourage conversation and minimize distraction
- Medical support that is offered discreetly and convincingly
- Music to lift and relax the spirit
- Outdoor areas that are easily accessible and safe
Which assisted living trends would you like to see left behind? We’d like to hear your thoughts in the comments below.