Gretchen Schauffler

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Design Challenges Senior, Skilled, and Memory Care Facilities Face Today

Design Challenges Senior, Skilled, and Memory Care Facilities Face Today

Office Space
Color is a powerful stimulus. It has the power to suppress appetite and increase concentration. It can cause cravings and impulse purchases—fatigue, agitate and irritate. Many environments focus on color being innocuous or not offensive as opposed to beneficially impactful. Others use color theory or trends, which often lead to artificial colorful places that fall out of favor easily. There are plenty of monotonous and colorful spaces that are not beautiful.

To meet the demand of the 76 million Baby Boomers that will need living assistance over the next several decades, Senior Living, Skilled Nursing, and Memory Care Facilities are starting to pop up everywhere. They are relying on new décor and design trends to give them an advantage over older facilities. However, today's design trends last a short time. Global manufacturing and the internet have made it effortless for trends to come and go fast. As interior design products, such as carpet and fabrics, get discontinued and color trends change, new facilities rapidly lose their newness and are faced with a future that constantly requires them to update and remodel if they want to compete with newer facilities. This is something older facilities know all too well. Continuing to rely and invest in new trends with short life spans, they end up looking like crazy quilts. Using color in non-offensive and innocuous ways to make a trend last longer ends up making them feel stale and depressing.

Nothing speaks louder than words or provokes feelings faster than color.

A mindful and wise color strategy can reflect a level of care beyond the decorative, and create holistic environments where everyone is too busy feeling good to worry about trend. Color, used purposefully, is a powerful tool that biologically enhances the memory of senior residents. Emotionally, it fosters an environment of connection and cooperation for caregivers, and psychologically produces a sense of safety and hope for families.

I always think of my mother and grandmother surrounded in bright and beautiful colors. In Puerto Rico, beautiful color is an ageless commodity. No matter how wealthy or poor, young or old — having bright and beautiful color around you is the norm. In 2011 she had a stroke. I had never walked into an assisted living facility prior to this. And while the people who worked there were genuine, my grandmother looked like a doll out of place. At 90 years old, she died 90 days later, on January 1, 2012. Somewhere in the recesses of my mind I kept on thinking that she would have wanted to open her eyes, had the environment only been saturated with beautiful colors.

June 2016 Devine Color Cocktail Drink Menu

June 2016 Devine Color Cocktail Drink Menu

June 2016 Brain Awareness Month

June 2016 Brain Awareness Month

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