Meyer Principal and Senior Living Practice Leader, Dan King, along with Erickson Senior Living Vice President of Community Living, Dr. Margaret Kimbell, and Colliers Engineering and Design Geographic Discipline Leader, Jonathan Jolley spoke at LeadingAge PA 2022 to discuss the benefits of spending time outdoors for seniors. The panel explained how to identify and subsequently activate new or underutilized outdoor spaces, and presented on the latest in outdoor amenities for senior living communities. By using several case studies completed by the Meyer Senior Living Studio and Erickson Senior Living, the presenters examined several design trends including: outdoor dining opportunities, entertainment, exercise, and multi-generational spaces.
Senior living communities, particularly those with more available acreage than others, have access to outdoor areas that are either underutilized or not designed in a way that is attractive or safe for an aging population. The reasons for underutilization are myriad and relate to design, maintenance, operational concerns and overall culture of the community. With the rise of construction costs and restrictions to available space, looking to the outdoors for additional gathering and activity space is a viable solution to fostering socialization and community among the residents.
Spending time outdoors is also one of the safest places to be during this era of the Covid-19 pandemic. There is clear evidence that people are at lower risk of infection when spending time outdoors, practicing social distancing and wearing masks, than when following the same precautions indoors. The movement of fresh air dramatically dissipates the density of the number of particles, reducing the risk of infection.
This panel session was well-attended, and a productive discussion and Q&A followed the presentation.