The Golden Years – Ways to Design & Implement Senior Health & Wellness Programs

by Jen Sheehan | IIDA, NCIDQ, RID | Project Manager

We invite you to play the entire interview by clicking the video below.

I had the privilege of interviewing Christine Irvine, Senior Director of Rehab and Wellness at Plymouth Place, a senior living community in LaGrange, IL and Abby Harlacher, Associate Executive Director at Edgewater, A WesleyLife Community in West Des Moines, IA. I spoke with Chris and Abby separately earlier this year, and our discussions focused on design and how it is implemented for seniors regarding health and wellness.  I asked each director a series of questions and included a few of my key takeaways from our conversation.

My questions:

  1. When utilizing a space, what are the most important features?
  2. How is self-motivation among your residents?
  3. What are some things you do to help motivate your clients?
  4. What key elements do you need to use your fitness spaces effectively?
  5. Is intimidation an issue? If so, how do you combat that?
  6. How do you instill confidence in your users?
  7. How do you encourage others to participate in your wellness program?

Key takeaways from our conversations:

  1. Technology guides the fitness equipment and many classes. Listen in to understand what is used and if it’s right for you.
  2. Communication between partners is what makes projects successful. Designers need to know what questions to ask.  Often, the client will not know what’s needed.
  3. All projects need to be a partnership. It is not solely the designers’ responsibility.
  4. The foundation of design is lighting, finishes, and acoustics. Everything else makes the space unique and usable.
  5. Knowing the residents from the moment they move in helps build long, healthy relationships and often encourages them to stay active and healthy. 


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