Outdoor living, exemplified by this patio at Del Webb at Mission Viejo, is a big component of senior homes.

IRVINE, CA—Easy access and private caregiver space are some of the features coming out of today’s senior-living communities, Manny Gonzalez, a principal with KTGY Group Inc. tells GlobeSt.com. These features are not reminiscent of senior living from decades gone by.

As GlobeSt.com reported exclusively last week, with more than 10,000 people a day turning 65, the Baby-Boomer generation’s preferences are significantly impacting design and development of senior housing, Gonzalez told us. By 2030, when all of this generation’s members have turned 65, 18% of the nation’s population will be at least that age, the Pew Research Center projects.

To that end, several practical changes are at work in senior-living design, a major one being easy access for residents. “In the kitchen, pull-out work surfaces, pull-out cabinetry, split-level counters, slide-out shelves and other organizational solutions help bring items to the user, eliminating difficult reaching,” says Gonzalez. “For wheelchair users, being able to access a workspace designed for seated use and with knee space underneath is key. Kitchen designs feature countertop heights for users with different needs and table-style islands (with legs only and no cabinets beneath), which allows for easy roll-up access. The kitchen sink has a basin 6.5 inches deep for easy reaching, faucets are single lever, and pulls rather than knobs on cabinets and drawers are easier to grip.”

Making the home easier for casual entertainment is also important to seniors, says Gonzalez. “The newest entertaining islands have an eating bar facing the workspace that is a half round or at least an ‘L’ shape so that while the homeowner is getting snacks or dinner prepared, they can carry on a conversation with the guests, and no one has to look over their shoulder to do so. A simple concept, and a functional design, and that is universal design.”

Also key is private space for a caregiver, whether they live with the resident or are there much of the time. “The living suite should be flexible enough to allow for any lifestyle need, from a parent who needs assistance to a spouse who has early dementia,” says Gonzalez. “Separate living space for a caregiver from the owner’s part of the home is important.”

Lastly, outdoor components are crucial to senior-living design, says Gonzalez. “The new designs feature outdoor  living rooms complete with a fireplace and big-screen TV, with family-room walls that slide away, opening up the rest of the home to create a truly seamless indoor/outdoor living space—the lifestyle most active adults with to live.”