"TMI" (too much information) should be the catch phrase for dinner with any baby boomer. I have clients who will shout out their PSA levels, blood pressure and other various test results at business meetings. This has become as commonplace as a pregnant or new mother discussing breast feeding and how their delivery went. For those of us not in that current condition, the conversation is uncomfortable at best and becomes TMI.
You might be wondering what TMI has to do with designing for senior living? The answer is everything. Boomers are into self-assessment more than any another generation. They want to know what they have, research options for treatment and will look for alternative solutions during the process along with creating their own programs to assist with the ailment, whether it be knee replacement, prostate cancer, memory issues or high BP or sugar levels.
The vitamin market in the U.S. is estimated to be $11 billion. One only has to stop into a CVS, Walgreens or Wal-Mart to see the extent of home health testing products available without a prescription—everything from BP, sugar, and PSA to UTI, pregnancy and drug testing.
What once was unthinkable, confirming a pregnancy in your own bathroom, has now become commonplace. Getting your blood pressure taken at the local drugstore is somewhat of a game for children waiting with their parents for their prescriptions.
The impact of all this testing is that senior living designers have yet to recognize that boomers entering communities will demand the same resources in senior living just as they have upped the ante by demanding restaurant style dining, fitness centers, spas and coffee shops.
Architects and designers need to start adding square footage to buildings to accommodate a testing space that would be adjacent to the healthcare professionals but not in a med room or exam room. This should be a space that not only accommodates testing but also allows for health education. It should also ideally be attached to the fitness center and with a consulting room for confidential discussions. I can only imagine where the technology is headed to help us all better manage our health but for now we need to at the very least accommodate the current needs of boomers.