Island workstations, smart appliances, accessible cabinets, touch faucets, lighting innovations—the list goes on and on for what’s new in kitchen design! Eric McRoberts and Jessica Jack attended this year’s Kitchen and Bath Industry Show (KBIS) to see the latest innovations and products that manufacturers are featuring, especially since their top picks are typically based on consumer demands, color trends and emerging technologies. The following are a few of our favorite concepts which can be applied to kitchens of any size.
Hybrid homes™ evolved as a new senior housing model that enabled providers to incrementally add independent housing with more flexible financing options and the potential for a la carte service offerings with a higher density footprint than stand-alone cottages. This model appeals to consumers for its outdoor connections, emphasis on natural light and appealing amenities including covered parking.
No two hybrid home models are alike. Each community puts its own spin on the right mix and style of individual units, appropriate scale, regional building materials and optimal layout. This ongoing evolution has led to the development of a new generation of hybrids based on diverse operator needs and consumer demands.
The original hybrid homes were stand-alone buildings, often constructed in pairs, but distinct from the main community center. Typically marketed to more active adults who wanted to maintain their independent lifestyle, the hybrids were separated from campus amenities. To counteract the potential isolation of this approach and strengthen community connections, many of the Hybrid 2.0 models provide covered walkway connections back to the community center.
These new Hybrid 2.0 models marry the two things the younger senior demographic values most: appealing private residences and opt-in socialization. Socialization is something baby boomers view as a choice. Want to share a meal? Invite neighbors over to your kitchen. Want to enjoy a quiet summer evening without interruption? Head to your balcony, deliberately oriented on the corner to be as far from chatty neighbors as possible.
Hybrid homes offer both at the same time—corner units for maximum privacy, yet easy access to community amenities when social interaction is desired. For example, at The Langford at College Station, Texas, we worked with the owner to develop a hybrid home concept that connects to the campus clubhouse building via interior walkways, making it easy for these independent living residents to join in campus activities.
Covered Parking Options
Another Hybrid 2.0 feature is taking a different approach to the covered parking aspect of hybrid homes. At Sycamore Square in Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania, the owner endorsed an adjusted parking design with individual garages, each with its own door, eliminating the need for a full concrete-and-steel floor above the parking level. This market-friendly feature helped to lower the overall construction cost.
Multiple Price Points
New housing for Oakleaf Village in Toledo, Ohio needed to meet consumer expectations for abundant daylight, open floor plans and covered parking while maintaining affordability for older adults in this Midwestern working class area. The design result is two parallel hybrid home apartment buildings with a connected pavilion between them. These three buildings form The Crescent, a micro-community for active seniors that is securing HUD financing to provide affordable rental housing.
The variety of hybrid home options is expected to continue to expand as providers find new ways to customize the model to meet their available property constraints, consumer expectations, individual financial needs and market realities.
To learn more about hybrid homes and their potential for your senior living community, read our latest case study, Hybrid Homes: Evolution in Independent Living available through our Hybrid Homes resource page.
To learn how Hybrid 2.0 Homes might fit your development needs, please Contact Us for more information.
Tiny living is having its day, with more people than ever taking on the challenge of living small or at least paring back to focus on the essentials. By now most of us are at least somewhat familiar with Marie Kondo’s recommendations for getting rid of items that no longer “spark joy.” Even thrift stores are feeling the effects of her books and Netflix series with donations trending up from previous years.
Record-breaking lows, wind chills, snowstorms and precipitation mixes can make the winter months seem long in much of the United States. Even places like Phoenix, Arizona and Southern California have recently experienced unusual snowfalls. As many of us are already looking forward to the arrival of spring in the next month or two, there are a number of ways to brighten interior spaces during the remaining cold and dark days of winter.
January seems like a good time to highlight yellow–the color associated with warm, sunny days. As with any color, yellow elicits a variety of responses and the emotions evoked are typically related to the specific hue and extent to which it has been applied. Lighter, muted tones work well as a soothing background neutral. More saturated, vibrant options can help to brighten spaces and create the illusion of light.
While some have questioned their long-term viability, both public and private libraries are reinventing themselves and, according to the 2018 American Library Association report, continuing to serve as a valuable resource for diverse groups of people. Libraries face many similar challenges to those of retailers, as large numbers of people turn to digital resources. However, the convenience of digital shopping, reading, learning, communicating and so forth can be isolating and less rewarding. This is where public libraries can step in to provide positive interactions, teachable moments and a collaborative community experience available to everyone regardless of their financial status.
The mindful combination of technology and design keeps residents connected to their social networks while fostering independence in senior living.
Nearly 20% of Americans age 62–91 report feeling lonely frequently. – Connect2Affect report
It’s well documented that people who feel lonely are at greater health risk both physically and emotionally. Of the primary contributing factors to isolation, many are directly related to growing older, including relocation to a care setting, the death of older friends and family, the loss of hearing or vision and the decline of cognitive function and/or mobility. Together these create a perfect storm for older adults struggling to maintain a sense of social and community connectedness.
“Loneliness has been associated with increased mortality and a range of adverse health outcomes that are both prevalent and costly in older age,” notes a 2017 Connect2Affect report funded by the AARP Foundation. “Loneliness, however, is often a hidden problem. It has few clear outward indicators, some degree of stigma attached, and no proven solutions beyond conventional wisdom about trying to make friends and find meaningful pursuits and activities.”
Combatting loneliness is not just about interacting socially or participating in activities. The type of social connection matters, too, the study authors note. Healthy social connection works to raise a person’s self-esteem and sense of belonging while fostering emotional caring and the sense of purpose.
While engaging in activities and making new friends both have value, the ability to maintain connection with already-familiar relationships is just as vital, notes a 2018 literature review published in BMC Geriatrics.
Several of the studies reviewed touted the merits of technology-based connectivity that goes beyond email and telephone. Tools such as video-conferencing and online groups can bridge the gaps between static communication and in-person interactions. Other key interventions to combat loneliness include learning new things (courses, workshops, skills classes) and participating in purposeful activities (charities, volunteer work creating meaningful things to donate).
The IQ Home incorporates sophisticated technology into the living spaces, so friends, activities and community news are just a click away. Through a partnership with K4Connect, residents stay informed of campus happenings through a personalized portal, share video calls with grandchildren, participate in social media groups online and search for information whenever they wish.
Integrated connectivity for tablets, smartphones and other mobile devices helps create a sense of ubiquitous connection to anything they wish to access—making a resident’s own home a central hub for the “Internet of Things.”
The best ways to maintain healthy social connectivity are to stay in regular contact with existing family and friends, nurture family relationships to gain a sense of family support and inclusion and stay connected to the local community, whether it is by attending religious services, joining a community organization or participating in community events with family and friends.
IQ Homes put powerful technology tools in residents’ hands in a user-friendly form, giving them the ability to reach out and stay socially connected—all while supporting success in the independent lifestyle they have chosen.
To learn more about the IQ Home and its features for keeping residents connected to their friends and family, visit our IQ Homes Resource Page to download the free ebook, IQ Home: Purpose-Driven Technology Keeps Residents Connected.
Mindful design focuses on preventing falls, reducing hospitalizations and championing confidence in aging independently
On an annual basis, more than one in four older adults will fall, and it’s the top reason for hospitalization in those age 65+. It’s also one of the top reasons why seniors have to leave their homes and enter assisted living. Interior and architectural design play key roles in creating a home environment that is safe, aesthetically pleasing and adaptable as the resident’s needs change.
For the IQ Homes at Masonic Villages at Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania, RLPS Architects designed a new model of independent living that fuses mindful design with transparent technology to tackle the top safety concerns of older residents.
Reducing Falls Risk
Environmental hazards—from raised doorway thresholds and poorly designed lighting to storage areas that force residents to reach too high for an item—are key contributors to falls, notes a 2018 study in Health Environments Research & Design Journal (HERD). “The current study provides empirical evidence of the link between environmental hazards and older adults’ falling, which is useful for developing effective fall intervention design strategies.”
Smart lighting design gets seniors from dawn to dusk without the dangers of too-dim or too-bright lighting. Sophisticated sensor technology monitors for dangerous patterns, including when a resident has been out of bed too long at night, possibly from a fall. Zero-threshold entryways eliminate tripping hazards and enable easy use of wheelchairs and other mobility devices.
The most popular place for a fall in the home isn’t the staircase, it’s the bathroom. Falls that occur in or near the bathroom have a higher correlation with hospitalization than falls in other areas of the home, the HERD study notes. Zero-threshold flooring, roll-in showers, grab bars and height-adjustable fixtures provide safer toileting and showering without introducing an institutional feel.
Clearing the Air
Breathing difficulties (COPD, emphysema, bronchitis, pulmonary edema and others) are among the top 10 reasons older adults seek treatment in an emergency room.
Asthma is a special challenge for older adults, since even a mild episode can cause dangerous shortness of breath and the risk of respiratory failure, notes the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. The treatment of asthma in seniors also presents difficulties, as steroid-based medications can cause severe side effects in older adults or interact with other medications prescribed for common geriatric conditions.
Controlling air quality within the home can reduce flare-ups from pollen, pollution and other irritants, lessening the chance of a breathing emergency and reducing the need for intervention medications. The IQ Home’s deliberate inclusion of sophisticated air filtering technology is the cornerstone of new research in how filtration impacts the reduction of hospitalizations and medication interventions due to breathing issues.
Having a sense of safety and control over the home environment is a major part of living independently. Part of it is autonomy: Not having to ask for assistance to reach something, cook something or move from room to room. But much also relies on a sense of safety, knowing that technology and mobile access are working together to allow residents to control security lighting, door locks and garage doors with one click from a handheld device.
Statistics show the overwhelming majority of older adults would prefer to age independently in a home setting. With mindful design, the IQ Home provides the safety, accessibility and confidence residents cherish while preserving their ability to live the way they wish.
To learn more about the IQ Home and its features for enhancing the safety and ability of residents who live independently, visit our IQ Homes Resource Page and download the free ebook, IQ Home: Intentional design for resident safety.
Many designers will tell you that great ideas are built upon the concepts and creators that came before them. This month we are highlighting a few of the earliest innovators who paved the way for today’s interior design professionals. Although there were certainly others who came before these few we’ve highlighted here (in fact, some sources trace interior design all the way back to ancient India), the following individuals have been heralded as some of the earliest American influencers for what has evolved into the contemporary interior design profession.
Furniture, accessories, color – these things are typically among the first that come to mind when we think about interior design. However, these terms relate only to interior decorating rather than the full breadth of interior design. While interior design does involve these important final touches, there’s a lot going on beneath the surface that can have a tremendous impact on how a final space feels and functions. We’ve asked a few of our designers about some of those behind-the-scenes features that can easily be overlooked.