Designer Laura Holzer discusses how youth is the gift of nature, but age is a work of art…

Spring 2014 Senior Living Symposium – Jackson Hole, WY

Recently we invited some of the nation’s most respected senior living designers to gather with us and share their vast knowledge on the subject in beautiful, awe-inspiring Jackson Hole, Wyoming. We came together, discussed, learned, laughed and left with insight and inspiration.


I was all ears while each designer entertained us with their knowledge and experience. Some talked about color and design trends, past and/or current projects, lessons learned- even rules and regulations. Though I was blown away with how much more Senior Living design is than just designing for a space, I was touched by the inspiring stories these women had to tell of the residents they are working with and designing for, the friendships they have built with the elders and how they continue to learn from them every day.
Jane Rohde of JSR Associates Inc shared her experience of meeting and working with Jane Heald, who is a resident and chair of the “green” building committee at Uplands Retirement Community and the replacement facility Wharton Care Center, in Pleasant Hill, TN. Ms Heald was hands on, seen in her orange vest and hard hat daily, videographing every aspect of the project and interjecting where she felt she could help or improve on something. After the project was complete, Jane received an email from Ms Heald explaining she wanted to have a gathering for a returning resident, who had been on missionary travel. One of her friends is wheelchair bound with some medical complications and they could not figure out a good way to have her come to her friends’ independent living home. Then it hit her that they could take the party to her. The long term care environment was now being utilized for a community center and gathering space. The photographs below from the gathering represent the best success possible from a built environment, that of joyful living. The Wharton Care Center is the first Eden Alternative nursing home in the state of Tennessee.

Jane Heald on the jobsite:

Pictures from the party at the Wharton Care Center:

Bonnie Cauthorn with Design Source, Inc spoke of a number of different elders that she has had the pleasure of working with.  Bonnie said “All Elders are a source of inspiration ….from our first focus group more than 15 years ago we talked about color perceptions, where a woman spoke and said “thanks for asking my opinion, it’s good to know it still matters.”  To the resident (a retired interior designer) living on the third floor of a newly renovated community asked “if and where my design degree was from?”  Elders teach me something new every day and I love that! Most Elders are concise, very honest and so wise!  We just need to ask more and stop and listen. They deserve it. They are our Elders, and Mama was right when she said you should respect your elders.”

From this adventure in such a beautiful setting, I not only take away some wonderful new friendships and amazing photographs, I have learned to look to those we are designing for. Our elders can inspire us to create a space where they feel welcome and at home. Here at J+J, we know the importance of listening to those we design for- and that knowledge is always the main ingredient in our products.

JSR Associates Inc
Wharton Care Center
Eden Alternative
Design Source, Inc