Senior Neighborhoods Feel Like Home
As an architect and principal of Perkins Eastman, an international planning, design, and consulting firm, Leslie G. Moldow understands how to create communities — often before residents ever live there. A specialist in senior living, Moldow has delved deeply into understanding what community features will appeal to the seniors of today and what their preferences will be in the residences they choose.
The coming generation of seniors, the leading edge of the Baby Boomers, is more than simply opinionated about their senior living options, explains Moldow. “They’re empowered,” she says. “They want more choice and options, and greater participation.”
Moldow and the Perkins Eastman team also apply findings from studies about the aging process to their work. “Aging isn’t necessarily a declining process,” she says. “You can maintain and even improve your health at any age. I think people are looking to move to communities where they can live their best lives and be their best selves.”
Future retirees anticipate more than a pool and fitness room in their senior living community. Today’s communities include total wellness programs, high-quality nutrition, a wide range of social opportunities, levels of care, educational programs and more. “Communities that understand it’s not just about having an exercise room but about the totality of wellness are going to be attracting the next generations of retirees,” says Moldow.
The company is currently working with Paradise Valley Estates, a well-established Life Plan Community just outside of Fairfield, on the community’s upcoming expansion: The Ridge. The 70 brand new households of The Ridge will join the more than 500 residents of the existing community and add new amenities and features for all to enjoy, says Moldow.
“There are two alternative dining venues being added — a clubhouse and a café — that will give residents the ability to decide if they want a light meal or something quick or prefer one menu over another,” says Moldow.
Today’s retirees are also redefining floor plans. “Private residences for independent living are getting larger,” says Moldow. “People want the same features they find in their previous home or in the latest homes. They look for openness, lots of daylight, access to outdoors through a patio, porch or deck, higher ceilings, ample-sized bedrooms, and bathrooms that allow accessibility so they don’t have to move should they temporarily need some extra support.”
Senior living developers are creating communities that feel and look much more like the neighborhoods people are moving from, says Moldow. “In The Ridge, there are cottages and villas, a town square, a main street and parks in between all of those spaces that allow people to enjoy an indoor-outdoor environment.”
Moldow says senior living communities should feel comfortable and familiar to the seniors who are considering them. “We’re not creating institutions,” says Moldow. “We’re creating neighborhoods.”