Housing for seniors: Current trends in nursing home design

Daniel Szabó


The phenomenon of an aging population in developed countries is becoming a society-wide issue. It needs to be addressed interdepartmentally through lifelong education, focusing on health issues, as well as long-term care for the elderly and other forms of social services. For this reason, nursing homes offering long-term care for seniors represent a current issue in architecture. At present, there is growing dissatisfaction with facilities for the elderly which were built in the past and no longer meet today’s needs. Most of these facilities have an institutional character and do not respect individual needs and privacy. Furthermore, many recent studies suggest that up to about 90 percent of people older than 50 years want to stay in their homes for life and do not want to move to a nursing home unless they are forced to. These problems lead to new trends and changes in the design of facilities for seniors.

This paper briefly describes trends in development of nursing homes since the mid-19th century, while mapping progress and changes in approach of society to care for the elderly as well as its practical impact on the design and operation of these facilities. The following is a description of current trends in the design of nursing homes which clearly shows a gradual reduction of size and convergence with the home-like environment, not only from the architectural and typological perspective, but also in terms of service. We can also see a clear trend of keeping seniors in their homes for as long as possible. In cases where it is not possible to keep them at homes for health reasons, there is an attempt to at least house them in their natural community.

Keywords: seniors, care, architecture, community, design, housing, trend