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Neocon Reflections

May 31, 2017

An ongoing project sheds light on designing for the aging population.

In 1999, as the vice president of forums for IIDA, I had the opportunity to work with an amazing group of forum directors who represented all disciplines within the interior design marketplace. As one of our IIDA forum initiatives, we created a presentation titled, “A Day in the Life of Joe—The Impact of Design on the Older Person,” which aligned with the United Nations’ International Year of the Older Person. Each forum director contributed to the program based upon their design focus using the filter of older adults within all different types of settings. The program was intended to represent various cultures and perspectives, utilizing Joe as the 62-year old poster child; along with his partner, Josephine; and his good friend, Mel, to explore design, operations, regulations, and trends in the senior living space.     

During NeoCon 1999, the hour-long continuing education program was presented to IIDA’s Chapter Leadership Council (CLC). That hour sparked a two-year traveling show of live presentations to chapters in most states; a trip to Korea as the keynote presentation for
a summit on aging being held at Yonsei University in Seoul; and a video, “Millennial Joe,” filmed during NeoCon 2000, which gave a whole new
meaning to the term “millennial.”

Building a Legacy

Fast forward to 2017, Joe turns 80 years old, and how times have changed. There has been a revolution in the long-term care marketplace through the implementation of person-centered care options, radically shifting the mindset of regulators and care providers to move away from institutionalizing older people and focusing on the “living” part of long-term care, versus only the “care.”  

Innovators like Dr. Bill Thomas lead the vision of changing senior living with small house models that included pets, children, and cooking in a
residential setting as represented by The Green House Project model (thegreenhouseproject.org).

For decades, the baby boomers were coming and now they are here and demanding changes within both healthcare and long-term care. The goal is living in well-designed, multi-generational communities that support choice, activity, dignity, and interaction, which is the reality of our future. As we looked back in 1999, we saw the different disciplines using aging as the filter for design recommendations; but in 2017, we see aging driving a convergence of the different disciplines into integrated settings that focus on health and wellness, sustainability, and quality of life. The silos of living, working, shopping, and traveling are now being merged with design in ways that could only be dreamed about in 1999.

Because of the rich knowledge and educational content that has been developed over the years, JSR Associates, Inc., decided it was time to complete the sequel to “A Day in the Life of Joe,” resulting in “Volume 2: Inspirational Joe.” Our favorite 80-year-old, along with his now wife, Josephine, and their good friend, Genevieve, explore the changes that have occurred historically in healthcare, as well as their challenges, losses, successes, and future resources that are impacting them as they travel through time. The video is scheduled to be completed in the summer of 2017 and will be available at jsrassociates.net. The goal is to present “A Day in the Life of Joe” at NeoCon in 2018, completing the circle of expanding knowledge that started in Chicago with IIDA many years ago.

Jane Rohde is the founding principal of JSR Associates, Inc., located in Ellicott City, Md. She champions a global cultural shift toward de-institutionalizing senior living and healthcare facilities through person-centered principles, research and advocacy, and design of the built environment. Clientele includes non-profit and for-profit developers, government agencies, senior living and healthcare providers, and design firms. Rohde speaks internationally on senior living, aging, healthcare, evidence-based design, and sustainability. For more information or comments, please contact Rohde at [email protected].

Student Profile

Kristen Thompson
College of Human Ecology / Design & Environmental Analysis at Cornell University

Connection betweenthe functionality  and success of design: new innovative products
Thompson is interested in healthcare design because each step of the process has a direct impact on the functionality and success of the design. The strategy phase allows the designers to further their knowledge of the functionalrequirements, processes, and goals of each space within a project. In addition, furniture, fixtures, and equipment selection has become vital because itcan reduce the spread of infection and impact user outcomes. She believes that the future of healthcare design is going to be changed by constantinnovation of new processes and materials, and feels it is up to designers
to foster this change.

In her ongoing work in healthcare design, Jane Rohde is keeping an eye on students whose work and studies are making an impact in the field. Read on to learn more about this month’s featured student designer.

About the Author


Jane Rohde, AIA, FIIDA, ASID, ACHA, CHID LEED AP BD+C & GGA – EB: Jane Rohde is the founding principal of JSR Associates Inc. in Catonsville, MD. JSR Associates Inc. celebrates 23 years of consulting services in 2019. Jane is the recipient of the 2015 Environments for Aging Changemaker Award and in 2018 she received the ASID Design for Humanity Award, was recognized as an Honorary Alumni of Clemson University’s Architecture + Health program, and has been honored as one of 10 notable Women in Design. For more information or comments, please contact Jane Rohde at [email protected] or “Chat with Jane” at www.jsrassociates.net.

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