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Environments for Aging Conference Takaways

HDG Managing Director Daniela Maniezzo and Senior Designer Betsy Penaherrara attended the Environments for Aging Conference in Atlanta last week and have shared a several insights and takeaways with the team about this event . HDG interior design team members have attended this event for several years now and always benefit from the multi-day event. This year’s “Ultimate Education, Networking, and Product-Sourcing Event in Senior Living Design” was no different.

Tour of an Urban Senior Living Community

Daniela and Betsy arrived ahead of the conference to take part in a great community tour of an urban-based luxury senior living facility that exemplifies how creative solutions can drive successful results. Heartis Buckhead is a high-rise building with 213 independent living, assisted living, and memory care residential homes.

The tour underscored the challenge posed by the limited footprint, urban zoning requirements, and setback regulations, which necessitated careful planning by the project team. The result was an 18 residential floor tower above ground with six levels of valet parking below grade. These components were seamlessly integrated with the existing medical office building, around which the Heartis Buckhead community was constructed.

Mind the Chatter

There was a great opening keynote presentation from Dr. Ethan Kross about “Chatter”, which refers to the constant stream of negative, self-critical, or repetitive thoughts that can plague our minds and impact our well-being. He posits that the most important conversation we have each day isn’t with our boss, our spouse, or our friends: it’s the one we have with ourselves. When we’re facing a challenging task, our inner voice can motivate us and help us keep our focus. He offered strategies to transform our self-saboteur, determined to undermine our success, into an internal life coach that will buoy us up and help us expand our potential.  The takeaway was a laundry list of practical strategies and techniques for managing the inner chatter and improving emotional resilience.

So much to take in, so little time!

The packed agenda posed a problem for the HDG duo: Which sessions to attend? In the end, they wisely separated and took in such wide-ranging topics as “Designing for Purposeful Programming”, and “Building Bridges of Connection” and “The Next Generation of The Green House Model.” The good news is, Daniela and Betsy were able to debrief after sessions and share learnings right then.

Aging, Accessibility, Autism and Dementia: Designing for Everyone?

Daniela’s other favorite session was one that addressed the concept “Designing for Everyone.” Hosted by Dr. P.K. Beville, it covered consideration of the capabilities of residents, patients, and the public. Care professionals’ experience with Americans with Disabilities Act  Accessibility Guidelines (ADAAG) has taught that incorporating accessibility solutions benefits everyone. The panel explored the benefits of incorporating elements of inclusion, equity, and diversity to improve all healthcare environments.  And Dr. Beville emphasized the importance of empathy-driven design in creating environments that promote dignity, autonomy, and well-being for individuals with cognitive challenges. She shared insights from her research and practical experience, highlighting the unique needs and perspectives of this population and offering strategies for designing spaces that are intuitive, supportive, and inclusive.

Vendor Information

Arriving back at the office, Daniela and Betsy kindly shared not just their impressions and learnings, but also a number of brochures from vendors the team will want to know about for future projects. From medical equipment to lighting and art to furniture, it’s all been arranged for a quick read by anyone in need of such information.

Do you have an active adult or senior living project in the pipeline? Reach out to us to schedule a meet and greet and learn about our award-winning capabilities today!