Holistic design for senior living centers

Demand is high for person-centered approach: mind, body and spirit

The latest trend in senior living centers is a migration toward building an environment that supports whole-person wellness, including mind, body and spirit. For leaders in senior living, it’s worth consideration as you approach your next remodel or senior living center construction. But what does holistic design look like? Here are some ways senior living centers are approaching this trend.

Getting a clear picture

Personalization of the senior living environment and experience with a holistic approach can begin by assessing an incoming resident’s needs. In the past this may have included a physical assessment, yet with a holistic approach, centers are now focusing on the psychological needs of a resident and making modifications to address the individual’s needs and wants.

Focusing on health and education

Additional customization draws upon the personal dimension of health and empowering residents to take control of their health and optimize it through diet and exercise. Everyone who enters a senior living environment does so at their own unique level of physical fitness and knowledge, which is why education is a key component of empowering incoming individuals.

Gathering input

Listening to resident feedback is also key in embracing holistic design for senior living centers. Inquire about what residents really want, from dining options and menu preferences to ongoing educational opportunities and activities, as well as the environment they’d prefer to live in for years to come.

The mind, body, spirit approach

Senior living centers have for decades focused on hospitality as a foundation for their offerings. The holistic model goes beyond that to get at the wellness needs of residents from the perspective of the mind, body and spirit.

  • The Mind: appropriate diagnosis of any cognitive challenges is key—as the needs of patients differ widely depending on their brain health. Developing an environment that’s appropriate for residents with memory problems, for example, is far different from supporting a patient with Parkinson’s Disease, depression or loneliness. Proper treatment, environment and support for optimizing wellness can only be achieved with a full understanding of the resident’s needs.
  • The Body: three times a day, every day, residents have the chance to support their health through proper nutrition. But healthy eating can be a confusing and confounding endeavor. From educating residents about the right choices and the intersection of nutrition with whole-person wellness, senior living centers can go far beyond offering a spectrum of dining choices. At the same time, many centers are beginning to offer additional choices for special diets, even customizing meals for every individual.
  • The Spirit: loneliness among the senior population is a widespread problem, and that can take a serious toll on our overall health and wellbeing. Many senior living centers are making changes to address this issue, incorporating programming such as educational classes that focus not just on learning but on socializing. Cooking classes can turn into engaging group meals; art classes can evolve into supportive art communities. More, senior living centers are also taking into consideration the human need to feel a sense of meaning and purpose. Those seeking to address this dimension of wellness may incorporate faith-based offerings, mindfulness and meditation, yoga or opportunities to connect with nature.
Holistic design: a differentiator in senior living

In the competitive world of senior living, offering a holistic approach can be a valuable differentiator. As seniors and their families seek housing solutions that provide whole-person wellness support, senior living centers that incorporate an approach to mind, body and spirit will likely rise to the top.