Environments for Aging is just around the corner!

TX wildflowers. By Naomi Sachs

Texas bluebonnets and Indian blanket flower. Photo by Naomi Sachs

The fantastic Environments for Aging conference is just around the corner…chronologically (April 9-12) and for me, geographically–it’s in Austin, TX! What a beautiful, fun, vibrant city for a conference. Not sure if the bluebonnets will still be blooming, but I’m sure other wildflowers will be. In fact, if you can take an extra day and go see the Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center, you will thank me.

I’ll be presenting with Susan Rodiek and Eric Bardenhagen on Sun, Apr 10 from 2:00 – 3:00 PM on “Planning, Designing, and Evaluating Outdoor Spaces to Optimize Usage” – see description below. And here are some other sessions I’m looking forward to attending. Hope to see you there!

Sun, Apr 10, 2016 – 10:00 AM to 11:00 AM
Gardens that Care: The Importance of Dementia-Enabling Outdoor Environments
Tara Graham-Cochrane, Director, DesignWELL Landscape Architects
Gardens designed specifically to support people with Alzheimer’s disease can minimize disorientation, provide essential prompts, and enable a person with dementia to engage meaningfully in daily life. Dementia-enabling outdoor environments are based on a set of best practice design principles developed by the presenter in conjunction with Alzheimer’s Australia and published in the book Gardens That Care: Planning Outdoor Environments for People with Dementia. Each principle aims to enable people with dementia to engage with the outdoors and connect with nature. Learn about these principles (orientation, accessibility, socialization, meaningful activity, reminiscence, sensory stimulation, safety, and sustainability) and best practices for their implementation.

Sun, Apr 10, 2016 – 11:15 AM to 12:15 PM
Longevity Park
Grant Donald, Landscape Architect, Silk Tree International
Active aging is the maximization of opportunities for health and well-being, involvement, and comfort and freedom in order to enhance the quality of life as people age. Providing outdoor spaces that support active aging and the physical and mental needs of the elderly is the key to the ongoing health and well-being of an aging population. Longevity Park in Beijing is a new prototype for a park that focuses on the requirements for active aging. The park features are specifically designed to cater to physical and mental abilities and disabilities prevalent in an older population.

Sun, Apr 10, 2016 – 2:00 PM to 3:00 PM
Planning, Designing, and Evaluating Outdoor Spaces to Optimize Usage
Eric Bardenhagen, Associate Professor, Texas A&M University
Susan Rodiek, Associate Professor, Texas A&M University
Naomi Sachs, Director, Therapeutic Landscapes Network, Ph.D. Candidate, Texas A&M University
It’s well known that access to nature can benefit the health and well-being of older adults, but there’s little evidence available on designing outdoor areas so seniors will actually spend more time outdoors. This session will emphasize the health benefits of active aging and present a new research-based tool that can be used to evaluate existing outdoor spaces and guide the planning and design of future senior communities. Case studies will show how the tool is being used to evaluate facilities in the U.S., Italy, and Japan and can be adapted to a wide range of settings for seniors.

Sun, Apr 10, 2016 – 2:00 PM to 3:00 PM
Active Living Design for Older Adults: Residential Environments
Sherry Ahrentzen and Elif Tural
As a risk factor for poor health, cognitive decline, and premature death, sedentary behavior is earning a reputation within public health as the “new smoking.” Behavioral and programmatic interventions aimed at reducing sedentary behavior have limited success. Alternatively, attention is focusing on how the designed environment can foster movement in regular daily routines—i.e., “active living design.” Based on a recently published systematic research review of real-life examples, this presentation identifies and illustrates evidence-based design factors that promote active living for older adults in residential environments, including ambient qualities, interior design elements, and building configurations.

Sun, Apr 10, 2016 – 3:15 PM to 4:30 PM
The Community’s Response to Successful Aging: A Best-of-Industry Panel Discussion
Ryan Frederick, Gail Kohn, Coordinator, Sandra Harris
Successful aging requires a healthy, vibrant, and responsive living environment. But truly successful environments for aging require a community-wide effort that coordinates housing with transportation, provides consistent community support, and includes health services that allow seniors to remain active and healthy participants in society. This best-of-industry panel assembles industry leaders who are addressing these very needs. Hear what key urban areas are doing from a variety of perspectives and take away best practices to inform your own community’s response.

Mon, Apr 11, 2016 – 8:00 AM to 9:00 AM
A Review of the Winners from the 2015 EFA Design Showcase
Addie Abushousheh and Russ McLaughlin
This session will provide a forum for the EFA Design Showcase award winners to speak about their projects and the challenges they encountered during the design and construction process. Attendees will have the opportunity to ask questions about the winning entries, learn about the competition submission process, and gain insight into key elements to include in their own submissions.

Mon, Apr 11, 2016 – 9:15 AM to 10:15 AM
The Impact of Visual Art on Sense of Place and Wayfinding for People with Dementia
Landon Mackenzie, Alison Phinney, Michael Wilson
Living temporarily in an unfamiliar environment can be upsetting and disorienting for people with dementia. Presenters will report findings from research examining how visual art can create a sense of place and support wayfinding for people with this disease. Emily Carr University art students created paintings for a transitional care facility, and University of British Columbia nursing students examined how residents perceived and experienced the artwork. Findings show that residents were attuned to the presence of the art, which influenced how they located themselves. Presenters will discuss the implications for guidelines on content, design, and positioning of paintings in transitional care environments.

Mon, Apr 11, 2016 – 10:30 AM to 11:30 AM
Buckner Villas: A SAGE Post-occupancy Evaluation
Addie Abushousheh, Amy Carpenter, Alec Sithong
This presentation will share results of a post-occupancy evaluation (POE) of a household model, memory support residence, conducted by a multidisciplinary team. The evaluation will explore how the environment and operations work together to support quality of life along with areas that need improvement for better person-centered care. Two POE examiners spent 24 hours living in the household as residents, which provided them with a deeper look into care delivery and operations than a typical POE would show. Attendees will see images of the community alongside the results of the evaluation findings and will discuss why some environmental or operational decisions work and others miss the mark.

Tue, Apr 12, 2016 – 9:00 AM to 10:00 AM
Implementation of the Functional Program
Jane Rohde, Principal, JSR Associates Inc
With the adoption of the 2014 Guidelines for Design and Construction of the Residential Health, Care, and Support Facilities, there is a requirement to provide a Functional Program. This session outlines the Functional Program process through the use of case studies. Attendees will explore how utilization of the Functional Programming process can assist design and provider teams to better understand how to respond to resident-desired outcomes, the organizational vision and mission, and the operational aspects for each activity occurring within and around a senior living setting—all of which can be better supported by the physical environment.

Tue, Apr 12, 2016 – 10:45 AM to 11:45 AM
Interprofessional Collaboration: The Role of Occupational Therapy in Senior Living Design
Lori Reynolds, Carolyn Sithong, Amy Wagenfeld, Debra Young
Occupational therapists have expertise in understanding human performance and the influence of health conditions on function. The profession’s ecological theories inform our practice approach to ensuring a good fit between the person and their environment to maximize independent function and well-being. With expertise and specialized knowledge, and a universal design approach to creating living environments, occupational therapists are uniquely qualified to consult with architects, planners, developers, and community agencies, along with local, state, and federal policymakers on planning and layout for built and natural environments. This session will discuss an interprofessional collaborative model for the design of senior living environments.

For more information and to register, visit the EFA website: www.environmentsforaging.com. See you in Austin!