Archive for the ‘Senior Housing’ Category

Environments for Aging is just around the corner!

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2016
TX wildflowers. By Naomi Sachs

Texas bluebonnets and Indian blanket flower. Photo by Naomi Sachs

The fantastic Environments for Aging conference is just around the corner…chronologically (April 9-12) and for me, geographically–it’s in Austin, TX! What a beautiful, fun, vibrant city for a conference. Not sure if the bluebonnets will still be blooming, but I’m sure other wildflowers will be. In fact, if you can take an extra day and go see the Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center, you will thank me.

I’ll be presenting with Susan Rodiek and Eric Bardenhagen on Sun, Apr 10 from 2:00 – 3:00 PM on “Planning, Designing, and Evaluating Outdoor Spaces to Optimize Usage” – see description below. And here are some other sessions I’m looking forward to attending. Hope to see you there!

(more…)

Research Summary: “Investigating Walking Environments In and Around Assisted Living Facilities.”

Monday, December 20th, 2010
Photo courtesy of Susan Rodiek

Walking is the most popular form of exercise for elderly people. Photo courtesy of Susan Rodiek.

Speaking of older adults (see our last post about Environments for Aging), a good article – “Investigating Walking Environments in and Around Assisted Living Facilities: A Facility Visit Study” by Zhipeng Lu – was published in the Summer 2010 issue of Health Environments Research & Design Journal (HERD). I wish I could provide a web link for you to access the free article, but alas, it’s only available to buy. So I’ll summarize the author’s points here.

At issue are the dueling needs of elderly people: The need for safety and the need for exercise and social connection. Lu states that “falls are the most frequent cause of injury-related morbidity and mortality among community-dwelling older people.” Falling is a true risk and needs to be avoided. But as he (and others he cites) argue, exercise and social connection are both critical for maintaining physical and emotional health. Careful consideration of location/neighborhood, as well as design of indoor and outdoor pathways, can both reduce risks and enable elderly people to live active, healthy lives.

Lu first makes a case for the benefits of exercise – in this case, walking – for elderly people (people 65 or older), and asserts that “the physical environment plays a role in promoting physical activity.” Since walking is the most preferred form of exercise among elderly people, it makes good sense to see what types of settings best promote frequent and safe walking.” The design of walkable ALF environments has become more important because frail older people are increasingly averse to nursing homes and seek a higher quality of life and greater independent living in an ALF.” An assisted living facility, or ALF, as defined by the Assisted Living Federation of America is “a long-term care option that combines housing, supportive services, and healthcare for mentally and physically frail individuals.”

(more…)

Hurrah! ‘Access to Nature for Older Adults’ Wins ASLA Award

Thursday, June 17th, 2010
Access to Nature for Older Adults

Photo by Susan Rodiek

The 2010 ASLA (American Society of Landscape Architects) Awards have been announced, and one of the winners is the excellent new DVD series, “Access to Nature for Older Adults: Promoting Health Through Landscape Design.” Yea! We’ve blogged about this DVD series before, and we’re so pleased that ASLA agrees that it’s a valuable educational and design tool. Here’s what the jury had to say:

“Many of the features that were found beneficial, if included in all landscape design activity, would result in superior design and experience for us all. Improving our interactions with our world and better mental health all around! Talks about landscape design specific to an older population, proving a point of the importance of landscape architects. It sets up a design hypothesis that is in need of proving. Everything it applies to older population also applies to everyone. The research has a much broader application than just the elderly population.”
—2010 Professional Awards Jury

And to celebrate, TLN members get a 15% discount off any or all three Access to Nature DVDs. You don’t even need to be an official TLN member (though we’d love it if you were: Join online – it’s free!). If you are a designer, or an administrator, or a health and human service provider, or an educator, or a student, or someone with parents or grandparents (hm, that would be everybody), you should buy this award-winning DVD series.

To order your Access to Nature DVDs with the 15% discount, visit the Access to Nature website, (www.accesstonature.org) and at the checkout, enter the promotional code TLNA2N. If for some reason that code doesn’t work, try TLNA2Na (same code but with a lower-case “a” at the end). The website is also chock-full of good information, so it’s a good one to bookmark.

Access to Nature DVDs

This is actually the fourth award for Access to Nature series: It received the 2009 Environment + Design Award from CEAL – The Center for Excellence in Assisted Living, and an early prototype of the Access to Nature program also won the Active Place Design Competition award in product design from EDRA, the Environmental Design Research Association, and a Viewer’s choice award from the Harvard School of Public Health.

Congratulations again to Susan Rodiek and her team at Texas A & M University; keep up the good work, and thanks for extending the discount to the Therapeutic Landscapes Network!

‘Re-Creating Neighborhoods for Successful Aging’ – Excellent New Book

Monday, December 14th, 2009


This from a recent New York Times article:

“In two years, baby boomers will start to retire [if they haven’t been forced to already due to the recession!], and by 2030 the number of American’s elderly is expected to reach 72 million, more than double the number in 2000. Demographers expect the suburbs to age particularly quickly, as residents retire close to home, or as those who have already moved to the Sun Belt return to live near relatives as they grow frail.”*

Those are some pretty astonishing numbers. It’s what some people have referred to as “the baby-boomer tsunami,” and we as a culture need to start planning and designing now. Luckily, some people have been already.


Re-creating Neighborhoods for Successful Aging edited by Pauline S. Abbott, Nancy Carman, Jack Carman (who serves on the Therapeutic Landscapes Network’s Advisory Board), and Bob Scarfo, is a timely new book that addresses these issues and highlights interesting and creative solutions. Drawing from the fields of gerontology, health sciences, community planning, landscape architecture, and environmental design, the book provides an in-depth examination of current elder housing practices and strategies, alongside goals for the future.


Housing models, such as continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs), shared housing, and co-housing, are evaluated, and best practice recommendations are presented. Expert contributors also incisively explore interdisciplinary issues including

  • the causal relationship between health and the environment
  • challenges posed by America’s automobile-dependent suburban communities
  • elder-friendly design principles, including universal design and defensible space
  • restorative benefits of nature and green environments
  • assistive technology that can support older adults’ independence
  • retrofitting of naturally occurring retirement communities (NORCs)
The book closes with an inspiring look at opportunities for future collaboration of the health sciences and the planning and design professions for the realization of supportive, life-affirming communities that will result in healthy aging, active living, and continued social participation for older adults.

*”Suburbs See a Challenge as Residents Grow Old,”
New York Times ‘Metropolitan’ section, December 6, 2009, pp. 1 & 8.

A New Way to Improve Quality of Life for Seniors: Excellent DVD Series (with a discount for us!)

Thursday, December 10th, 2009

Five years ago, Susan Rodiek embarked on a project to create a series of DVDs about providing better access to nature for older adults. Rodiek, a professor at Texas A & M University’s Center for Health Systems & Design, specializes in senior populations, and access to nature has long been a focus for her research and teaching.

Those years of hard work have paid off. I received my “Access to Nature for Older Adults” DVDs last week and I’m truly impressed. The three-DVD series is not just instructional – it’s downright inspiring. With beautiful imagery, compelling research and interviews, easily digestible information, and a lot of real, practical solutions to common problems, it’s a must-watch and a must-have for architects, landscape architects, planners, educators, and any care provider who works with seniors in continuing care retirement communities, assisted living facilities, nursing homes, hospices, as well as acute care general hospitals.

Session One, The Value of Nature, describes how access to nature may benefit the health of seniors, from the perspective of experts and available research – addressing the role of programs, policies, and design issues.

Session Two, Improving Outdoor Access, explores how the layout of the building itself can either encourage or discourage outdoor access, and how specific areas – such as indoor-outdoor connections – can be successfully developed.

Session Three, Safe and Usable Outdoor Spaces, highlights the main outdoor features that are reported by residents to impact their outdoor usage, and how these can be improved. Seating, shade, and walkways are among the outdoor elements illustrated.

The Access to Nature website is also chock-full of good information. Some of it is accessible to everyone, and some of it is only accessible if you have the DVDs. So go ahead and buy them! You won’t be sorry.

Receive a 10% discount: Between now and the end of January 2010, Therapeutic Landscapes Network members and readers of this blog will receive a 10% a discount when you buy any or all of the Access to Nature DVDs. Just enter this promotional code in the checkout section on the Access to Nature website: TLNA2N.