Senior Living Trends

How we want to live is different for each of us, and sometimes those choices are not always healthy. However, as we age, the ability to retain choice and have a purpose contributes to our health and happiness. As a society, we have become compartmentalized focusing on our career and our immediate family. In doing so the community and support systems we need when we age are not there. These ideas – retaining choice, having a purpose, and being a part of a community – are paramount ideas when thinking about senior living environments.

At the Forum on Aging in Rural Oregon hosted by Oregon Health and Science Institute, I learned about Bridge Meadows in Portland, Oregon. It’s a brilliant housing model and should be replicated everywhere in Oregon! This program creates a community that combines adoptive parents and foster children with seniors in one multi-generational community. The seniors help the families, the families help the seniors, and the results are astounding. Over time they have created a community support system where all three generations (seniors, parents, and children) benefit – healthier adults, stable families, and children that thrive. Watch the video!

Here at Pinnacle, we design a lot of affordable housing and senior living communities. Why can’t we use this same concept to fill our housing need (most cities in Oregon have a 1% or less vacancy rate) and bridge funding gaps between groups – seniors, low income, veterans, etc. – to build communities and support systems across Oregon?

The Circle of Life

I often refer to the phrase ‘the circle of life.’ We begin as children and have structure, discipline, and guidance from our parents to learn right from wrong and the skills to make our decisions. We excel at this process for a significant portion of our adult lives. As we age these learned abilities begin to fade and rather than continuing to learn and grow, life decisions are made for us. We can end up in sterile environments without family and a support system. BJ Miller, a hospice and palliative medicine physician, has a great Ted Talk on “What really matters at the end?” He challenges everyone to think about the experience of dying, honoring life, and how the built environment supports it.

Collaboration between generations and understanding an individual’s wants and needs will give us the ability to create beautiful environments and spaces where we can age and thrive until our last days on earth. As a group, we can serve our communities better by sharing ideas, learning from them, and collaborating to implement them. Let’s continue the conversation!

Briana Manfrass is an interior designer with Pinnacle Architecture. In 2012 Briana earned an Evidence-Based Design Accreditation and Certification (EDAC) from The Center for Health Design whose mission is to transform environments through design research, education, and advocacy. She’s successfully applied her knowledge to a variety of project types from affordable housing to senior living facilities. She’s completed the design of hundreds of affordable housing units throughout Oregon. Briana was a presenter at the 2016 conferences: Leading Age in Redmond, OR and Environments for Aging in Austin, TX. Briana can be reached at or 541.388.9897×22.