Use Your Sense to Guide Senior Living Design



We all have senses and we use them constantly, whether we consciously know it or not. In prehistoric times, our senses helped provide basic survival, for example, being able to see, hear or smell an approaching predator. While senses still assist in making our lives safer, they can also be used to make our lives more comfortable.

When a person first walks into a senior living facility, a perception will be created almost immediately based on one’s senses – sight, sound and smell.

Sight – The visual image is immediate. What does the place look like? Is it old or new? Do the finishes create a warm and welcoming environment? Is this the type of a place where you would like to spend time?

Sound – Is it noisy? Or is it quiet, calm and relaxing?

Smell – A quick sniff will tell you if there are odors or not.

Consciously or not, a perception is formed. As the saying goes “You only have one chance to make a first impression.” Flooring can actually play a critical role in creating a positive one.

Sight – What colors and patterns are used in the flooring? Does the floor coordinate with other finishes? Does the floor help to create the desired aesthetic upon entering? Is the floor shiny and does it have the appearance of being wet and slippery – a passive restraint? (I hope not). Typically, lobbies and entries will be designed to create more of a ‘wow’ factor since they are the first area seen upon entering.

Sound – Acoustics is a high priority issue in healthcare, including senior living environments. Studies have shown that quieter environments are calming, less stressful, improve morale and enhance communication. The use of carpet is an excellent way to create quieter spaces by reducing noise creation, absorbing noise and reducing floor-to-ceiling noise transmission.

Smell – Odors can be very bothersome. Care should be taken to select floorcovering that does not emit orders. If areas are being renovated, use odor-free adhesives during installation in occupied areas. Select floorcoverings that do not create offensive odors during maintenance – look for wax/polish optional products if resilient flooring is being used. Lastly, incontinence is a fact of life in senior living. Flooring with moisture barrier properties will keep spills and accidents from penetrating to the backing or subfloor and enable quicker, easier clean up.

In summary, pay attention to what your eyes, ears and nose are telling you….and your customers.

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