Environments for Aging Conference - June 2012

By Ruth Simon McRae

 

Professionals who work in the senior living market are often driven by more than just profit and financial opportunity. Most people are affected by the challenges of aging, whether it is watching parents and family grow older or experiencing their own process of moving through life stages. 

The Environments for Aging conference held in Orlando from April 28 to May 1 is an educational venue for the many professionals whose mission it is to create better, safer, affordable and enjoyable environments for older adults. Vendome Group produced the conference with support from Long Term Living, The Center for Health Design, and HealthCare Design. However, it is the association with the American Institute of Architects (AIA), the Society for the Advancement of Gerontological Environments (SAGE), the International Interior Design Association (IIDA), and the Erickson School that provides the platform for education, whether through sessions, workshops, tours or networking discussions.

The conference creates an opportunity for stakeholders in the design and operation of senior living environments to explore new ideas, unmatched in many other professional settings. Beginning with site tours and workshops, the schedule was packed with a variety of learning opportunities, as well as networking and direct exchange with industry experts, colleagues and suppliers. 

Sessions took a comprehensive look at both residential and institutional environments, beginning with a critical study of codes and standards and looking forward into the future. Some presentations offered a fascinating global perspective, with case studies of skilled nursing facilities in both China and Nova Scotia, and universal design research from Japan. 

Attendees at the conference represented all aspects of the built environment for senior living. It is the diversity, as well as the quality of educational options, that define this conference. 

A breakdown of attendance of the 2011 and 2012 conference shows that approximately 50% of the participants are architects, interior and landscape designers; 25% are owner/operators and administrators of senior care facilities; and 10% to 15% are construction managers and facility planners. The balance is split between academics, government representatives, suppliers and others.

If there was an overriding theme of the conference, it was this: aging is a life stage. The physical and perceptual changes are only one aspect of aging, or as one presentation summarized, “Design for people, accommodate for physical limitation.” 

Generous time was allotted in the schedule for attendees to explore the exhibit hall and speak with each vendor. Exhibitors in the conference trade show included several flooring manufacturers: Altro, Forbo, Interface, Lonseal, Milliken, SorbaShock, Tandus and TechDesign Floors. 

Even though flooring manufactures participated in the trade show, there was a lack of education in the program concerning flooring. This conference presents a real opportunity to showcase how different types of flooring address the relevant issues in various types of senior housing. There was much information presented during the sessions about the specifics of fixtures for universal design…why not flooring?

Information about the features and benefits of each flooring type, as well as specific information about carpet construction and backing systems, could greatly expand the knowledge base of participants. Evidence based design is a core, shared value, so this audience would be particularly influenced by case studies and research outcomes. 

When asked about the need for flooring information and education, Ingrid Fraley, president of Design Services, Inc., contributed these comments: “Professionals in the flooring industry should be interested in this conference, as flooring solutions are a huge investment in any type of environment. Of course aesthetics and price are always considerations, but types of flooring impact users every day, whether due to healthy air quality (low VOCs, antimicrobial properties, anti-static properties), acoustics (sound absorption), mobility (traction, slip resistance, fall mitigation), vision (glare reduction), or orientation (wayfinding).”  

The design of environments significantly impacts the quality of life and experiences of seniors, whether they are aging in place or living in a community. The ideal is to create communities that are viable for seniors—or elders, a preferred term—yet include people of a range of ages. There is a desire to create communities that are also diverse from an economic standpoint. To this end, owners and organizations are designing and retrofitting buildings to offer units of different sizes, including some smaller, more affordable spaces.

Continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs) are radically changing, and many sessions addressed how these facilities are dealing with new demographic and economic realities. The driver for this shift is two-fold, the desirability (and greater effectiveness) of a more home-like environment for seniors, and a major reduction in Medicaid reimbursement. Also, many people considering a move to senior communities are delaying action, taking a wait-and-see approach until their current housing and investments increase in value.

A number of larger campuses, built in the 1980s and ’90s, are ripe for re-invention. Some of the ways this is being accomplished is through the creation of smaller “households” within larger facilities, and the renovation and repositioning of areas that were once skilled nursing into assisted living, memory-care and rehabilitation units. 

Some participants specifically chose this conference in order to get ideas about how to transform their facilities. 

Another hot topic was aging in place, with discussions about how many of the aspects of universal design can be used to retrofit home spaces. Many attendees are applying universal design criteria in all aspects of living/working environments. 

Attendees left the event energized and inspired, looking forward to the next Environments for Aging annual conference, to be held in April 7 to 10, 2013 in New Orleans.

 

Copyright 2012 Floor Focus 



Other Archived Articles

Coverings Announces Seminar Schedule   Full Article
Alexandria, VA, March 17, 2015—Coverings has unveiled its conference session schedule. The trade show will be held April 14-17 at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida with conference sessions beginning April 13.

Housing Starts Fell in February   Full Article
New York, NY, March 17, 2015—U.S. housing starts fell 17% in February to their lowest level in a year, likely due to harsh weather, according to the Commerce Department.

Fitz Flooring Named First Canadian Armstrong Elite Retailer   Full Article
Lancaster, PA, March 17, 2015—Fitz Flooring is the first Canadian retailer to enter Armstrong’s Elite Retailer program. The store’s two Calgary locations earned the distinction.

New York Manufacturing Slows in March   Full Article
New York, NY, March 17, 2015—Manufacturing activity in New York state expanded at a slightly slower pace in March, slowed by weaker shipments and new orders, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

Tarkett Flooring Featured on Nat Geo's Cabin Fever   Full Article
Chagrin Falls, OH, March 17, 2015—Tarkett flooring was recently featured on National Geographic Channel’s new show Cabin Fever. Tarkett’s FiberFloor, laminate and luxury vinyl tile (LVT) were utilized throughout the space.

Builder Sentiment Falls, but Conditions Still Seen as Favorable   Full Article
Washington, DC, March 16, 2015—U.S. homebuilder sentiment declined for a third straight month in March, but more builders still view market conditions as favorable, says the National Association of Home Builders.

Factory Production Declines for Third Consecutive Month   Full Article
New York, NY, March 16, 2015—Factory production in the U.S. declined 0.2% in February for a third consecutive month, says Bloomberg News.

Sale of HUD Loans Helps Over 16K Avoid Foreclosure   Full Article
Washington, DC, March 16, 2015—The sale of $16.7 billion in nonperforming loans by the U.S. Housing and Urban Development Department helped the owners of about 16,700 homes avoid foreclosure, reports Bloomberg Business.

Altro Safety Flooring Introduces Tape Installation System   Full Article
Wilmington, MA, March 16, 2015—Altro Safety Flooring has introduced a new adhesive free, tape installation system for resilient flooring called Altro XpressLay, which minimizes installation downtime.

Gerflor Expands Sales Team to Cover Entire U.S.   Full Article
Bensenville, IL, March 16, 2015—Gerflor USA has added 14 reps to its Gerflor USA sales team to cover the entire United States and provide additional reach in major markets.

Wholesale Prices Slid in February   Full Article
Washington, DC, March 13, 2015—Wholesale prices fell 0.5% in February, says the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The unexpected drop represents the fourth consecutive down month, as measured by the Labor Department’s producer price index.

Interface's Claims New Microsfera Has Lowest Carbon Footprint Ever   Full Article
LaGrange, GA, March 13, 2015—Interface has unveiled its latest product, Microsfera, which the firm says has the smallest carbon footprint of any carpet tile in history.

Ecore Revamps Business Structure   Full Article
Lancaster, PA, March 13, 2015—Ecore is making changes to its business structure in conjunction with IHRSA 2015 by launching a new category of sports and fitness flooring called Ecore Athletic.

J+J Flooring Video Wins Gold in AVA Digital Awards   Full Article
Dalton, GA, March 13, 2015—J+J Flooring Group video was named gold winner in the corporate image category of the AVA Digital Awards.

Average Mortgage Rates Rising, Buoyed by Strong Jobs Report   Full Article
McLean, VA, March 13, 2015—Average fixed rate mortgage rates are moving higher amid a strong jobs report and bringing mortgage rates back to where they were at the start of 2015, according to the results of Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey.

Trade Sales & Manufacturer Shipments Edge Down in January   Full Article
Washington, DC, March 12, 2015—The combined value of distributive trade sales and manufacturers’ shipments for January was estimated at $1,302.5 billion, down 2.0% from December 2014 and down 0.3% from January 2014, says the Commerce Department.

Retail Trade Sales Down from Previous Month But Up YOY   Full Article
Washington, DC, March 12, 2015—Retail trade sales were down 0.6% (±0.5%) from January 2015 but up 1.0% (±0.9%) over 2014, says the Commerce Department.

LL's Free Air Quality Testing Won't Meet CARB Standards   Full Article
New York, NY, March 12, 2015—Lumber Liquidators will offer free indoor air quality testing for its consumers--conducted to workplace standards,-- but OSHA's thresholds for formaldehyde in the workplace are not as stringent as CARB's for the home.

Parterre's Vertu Resilient Plank Wins ADEX Recognition   Full Article
Wilmington, MA, March 12, 2015—Parterre’s Vertu Resilient Plank won two ADEX awards.

Consumer Survey Reveals Optimism about Housing Market   Full Article
Washington, DC, March 12, 2015—Consumer optimism toward the economy is growing and appears to be contributing to further improvement in overall housing sentiment, according to results from Fannie Mae's February 2015 National Housing Survey.