Environments for Aging 2012 conference – A lot to offer!

Environments for Aging 2012

Wow! I just looked at the full list of Session Descriptions for this year’s Environments for Aging conference (4/21 – 5/1/12 in Orlando, FL) and it looks amazing. I’m so encouraged that there are eight presentations that mention or focus on access to nature in the title and/or description. Definitely more than last year – a good sign! And I’m sure many of the other presentations will touch on this subject as well. I went to EFA last year, and I was impressed with the caliber of the speakers, presentations, and attendees. If you are interested in outdoor environments for seniors, this is THE conference to go to. Here’s the full conference agenda, here is the full list of session descriptions, and here’s a link to register.

Oh, and if you register by this Friday, 1/27, you get a significant early-bird discount.

Read on for details on the 8 session that I think will be of particular interest to our members…

How You Gonna Keep ‘Em Down on the Farm? A Rural Age-In-Place Community for Developmentally Disabled Adults and Their Caregivers
Susan DiMotta, IIDA Principal, Perkins Eastman
Richard Rosen, AIA LEED AP, Principal, Perkins Eastman
John Baring, Trustee, Camphill Ghent Initiative

The Camphill Foundation has a century-long tradition of supporting and caring for developmentally disabled children. Its community in Copake, New York, has been a structured and nurturing environment for almost 60 years, guided by the principles of Rudolf Steiner and anthroposophical philosophy. These “children” are now approaching the age where options for a variety of levels of senior living and care are needed. The Camphill Ghent Initiative was established to create such a community on a 110-acre farm in Columbia County, New York, where developmentally disabled adults would be able to age in place in an environment that allows them to maintain independence, while providing services and assisted living-level care when needed. Independent senior housing is also provided for able-bodied seniors who wish to be a part of the caregiving staff as well as participate in the community’s cultural and agricultural offerings.

Outdoor Spaces—Effective Design for Older Adults
Clare Cooper Marcus

Many outdoor spaces in senior facilities are barely used. This session will illustrate what design features are essential to draw people outdoors—a significant environment for exercise and overall well-being. Several case studies of existing gardens will illustrate how such features were—or were not—successfully incorporated into outdoor space design. Attendees will understand what design elements attract older people to use the outdoors, and will explore in detail the pros and cons of two case study communities. You’ll discover what design features are essential in a garden for Alzheimer’s residents and learn about essential indoor-outdoor connections.

Aging-in-Place at Home and Environmental Support of Physical Activity
Zhe Wang, PhD, RA, EDAC, LEED AP BD+C, Cannon Design
Mardelle Shepley, D.Arch, FAIA, EDAC, LEED AP, Professor, Center for Health Systems & Design, Texas A&M University
Susan Rodiek, PhD, NCARB, Associate Professor, Center for Health Systems & Design, Texas A&M University

Can society help community-dwelling older adults have more independent years in their own homes? This session interprets and synthesizes existing studies on aging-in-place in relation to health and services. It describes the nature of the aging process and the impact of physical activity on health and service accessibility, and therefore, the ability for seniors to remain in their homes. Physical environments that provide opportunities for physical activity at the neighborhood level and the site level will be presented, along with a conceptual framework to serve as the core construct to address gaps in previous research, and as a tool to refine practical targets for policies and innovations aimed at promoting seniors’ independence and wellness.

Managing Behaviors in Dementia—Environment and Programs United
Dr. Lena Smith, Clinical Director, The Retreat

This interactive session will provide an in-depth overview of dementia and the underlying cognitive skills that are lost during the disease process. It will then focus on the intersection of specialized environments and care programs, highlighting and demonstrating the enhancement to care when both domains are integrated. Participants will examine photographs of cluster areas that achieve this integration, and they will be challenged to evaluate dining rooms, bathing areas, bedrooms, window access and outdoor spaces within the context of dementia as an underlying disease process. Quality-of-life and outcomes-of-care programs will be explored.

Ready or Not—A Synergistic Response to Building an Age-Inclusive Outdoor Environment
Sandra James, City Planner, City of Vancouver

The term “silver tsunami” is used to describe the statistical reality of an aging population. Adaptive environmental responses to aging-in-place are fundamental to the well-being of neighborhoods and communities. Through the exploration of the award-winning Wellness Walkways in Vancouver and a developed kit of best practices for promoting seniors’ enhanced mobility and wellness, participants will learn how to work with municipalities and different levels of government to provide outside environments that are safe, economical and practical. Attendees will learn how these practical concepts can be translated to their outdoor environments and embraced by senior users.

Let’s Do It Outside—A SAGE Panel Discussion on the Benefits of Going “Au Naturel”
Addie Abushousheh, Secretary and Treasurer, SAGE Federation
Margaret Calkins, Co-Founder, SAGE Federation
Elizabeth Brawley, Board of Directors, SAGE Federation
Alanna Carter, President, SAGE Minnesota

Join SAGE for a panel discussion about the use of outdoor spaces—not just as pretty gardens, but as activity centers. There is an increasing interest in focusing on utilizing outdoor space as an extension of the buildings themselves. This panel will challenge the commonly held notion that people will go outside to look at beautiful flowers, and stress the needs for activity, things to do and staff engagement. This session will explore the relationship of the inside to the outside spaces that may be capitalized upon if they are conceived of as outdoor rooms, providing an opportunity for year-round activity as well as many health-related benefits.

Speaking Intergenerationally—Restorative Design and  Lifespan Engagement
Randy Eady, Therapeutic Specialist, Member of International Council on Active Aging, US Play Coalition, TaiChi4Health and Generations United

More and more generations are overlapping in senior living. CCRCs are finding if they have a better appreciation for the changing demographics coming into their midst, they can better position offerings that meet this variety and create enticing, eco-aware and highly-functional living environments.  Multiple-generation interaction and physical activity enhances quality of life for older adults; adding outdoor settings and children to the mix magnifies these benefits. Unfortunately, myths and assumptions about these types activities — across the life span — may limit opportunities to create optimal design features that consider both eco-psychological and recreational therapy aspects.  This roundtable explores opportunities for “intergenerational programming” that build relationships between the natural environment, youth and older people.  Participants will explore seven prevailing barriers to Lifespan Engagement (health and sense of well-being across generations and natural physical environments).

The Heart Healthy Garden
Lydia Kimball, ASLA, LEED AP BD+C, Principal, Mahan Rykiel Associates, Inc.
Robin Spence, Dietitian for Cardiovascular Services, Union Memorial Hospital

The health benefits of engaging the outdoors in facilities for seniors are well-documented and especially important as issues of medication, mobility and emotional welfare can be affected in positive and tangible ways. This presentation will bring cardiac nutrition and landscape architecture together to showcase opportunities for thoughtfully created outdoor space. Presenters will showcase a prototype space and describe the ways it might be improved. Using a MedStar facility as a case study, presenters will illustrate a concept layout, ways to connect to the existing facility, design elements that could be incorporated, budget cost estimates and then present a graphic tool to help with potential fundraising.