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Senior living communities: Design parameters that one should look for

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What are the main design parameters that one should consider, to ensure a safe and comfortable community for seniors?
We get an expert’s opinion on the same
  •  Accessibility
  • Positive ageing and functionality
  • Interactive spaces
  • Efficiency


Disabled-friendly design: The design is planned in such a way that senior residents can utilise these spaces independently and with the least amount of assistance. Some elements that can be incorporated into the design are:

  • Wheelchair-accessible spaces
  • Grab bars wherever applicable
  • Gentle slopes for ramps
  • Presence of signages
  • Seating at regular intervals
  • Access aisles at car parks
  • Specially designed toilets (accessible/disabled toilets) at an accessible distance.

Positive aging and functionality

This involves incorporating design strategies to create places that promote personal and community health and well-being, to improve the residents’ quality of life.

1. Availability of amenities and activity areas – These spaces can include:

  • Gymnasium
  • Community dining space and kitchen
  • Wellness centre
  • Spa and salon
  • Lounge
  • Indoor games parlour
  • Café/bistro
  • Disabled-friendly furniture
  • Jogging track and reflexology garden

2. Legibility of spaces – Each space is carefully designed to make the community as simple and navigable as possible. Unique elements such as memory niches can be added to make the residence entrances easily navigable.

3. Lighting – Care is taken while designing spaces so that there are no contrasting lux levels. The lux levels are optimised for the senior user group. Spaces are designed to be well-lit so that there are no shadows, as they can be interpreted as obstacles.

4. Fire safety – An efficient firefighting system, complete with smoke alarms, sprinklers and fire extinguishers, should be in place at designated intervals. Materials that have higher resistance to fire need to be used in construction.

5. Advanced surveillance systems – There is a provision to install CCTV cameras for home systems. Additionally, common areas should have high-resolution video surveillance with round-the-clock monitoring.

Interactive spaces

The most efficient way to achieve a safe and secure environment for senior living is by having spaces that –

  • Look into each other
  • Have collective visibility of communal/common spaces


An important aspect of designing senior living facilities is to make them as versatile and efficient as possible.

1. Maintenance

Choice of materials for interiors: Materials chosen are such that they require little or low maintenance.

Choice of finishes for interiors: Semi-matte and matte tiles are chosen for interior spaces for the below reasons:

  • To increase grip and avoid tripping hazards
  • To prevent reflections
  • Prevent slipping. Spaces such as gymnasiums typically have rubberised flooring.

2. Materials to maintain hygiene

Spaces such as kitchens, wellness centres, spas, etc., are designed using materials that can be maintained to the highest level of hygiene.

3. Parking

Disabled-friendly car parks are planned to be in the vicinity of the building entrance to minimise the travel distance.

4. Open spaces/activity spaces

Open areas which include activity areas can have a jogging track, surrounded by dense vegetation. This encourages positive ageing and active living. Research has also shown that this type of space can boost the immunity of seniors. The surrounding foliage not only acts as a landscape feature but also helps provide shade and reduces noise pollution.

5. Furniture

Furniture is made with soft fabrics. The legs of chairs are rounded off and the front legs are attached with wheels so that they can be moved easily.


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