The four days I spent at the 2013 Environments for Aging conference in New Orleans were simultaneously exhausting and exhilarating—and full of new ideas, designs and business models for the new age of senior housing.
Attendees heard plenty about our ageist vocabulary and received plenty of views on what we SHOULDN’T call things anymore. One speaker suggested we change “aged” to “aging.” Another speaker was sick and tired of the term “baby boomer.”
“I hate the term ‘aging in place.’ It sounds like a potted plant,” said Maria B. Dwight, president and CEO, Geronotologist Services, Inc., in her educational session. “I want to talk about aging in every place.” Other terms on the hit list included “successful aging,” “active adult communities” and even “CCRC.” “And no more senior citizen,” Dwight continued. “What’s wrong with old? If there’s nothing wrong with being young, then there’s nothing wrong with being old.”
What we didn’t hear much about were rehab services (even as they’re becoming a greater and greater segment of skilled nursing facility business), and how our care buildings (and our business models) will need to change to accommodate growing services for rehabilitation down the road.
Another thing we didn’t really hear much about was technology (despite the fact that a technology track session was offered each day). To clarify, what I didn’t hear enough about was how the senior housing industry (oops, I wasn’t supposed to use that term) is going to deal with the growing customer expectations of technology within living spaces for the elderly. Expectations are growing well beyond the obvious things like Internet access and wireless connectivity. Customers who care to research the topics will quickly learn all about tablet-based documentation devices for activities of daily living and clinical data, high-tech laundry, UV-based infection control and technology for wander management and falls prevention. No, I didn’t hear nearly enough about how we can integrate technology into every aspect of architecture and interior design, from the first sketches to the final bricks.
The conference’s design venue couldn’t have been in a more appropriate location—the stunningly renovated historic Roosevelt Hotel near the French Quarter—right in the new heart of an old city that is very much alive. Some say New Orleans can be overzealous and unabashedly brash sometimes, but man, can that girl cook.
Loved the EFA conference? Or, missed it and wish you hadn’t? Be sure to join us for the 2014 EFA conference May 3-6 in Anaheim! More information coming soon on www.environmentsforaging.com