Design for Senior Living Centers and Memory Care in Philadelphia

Memory Care Flooring Designs in Philadelphia

How to Choose Flooring for Senior Living

Flooring is an essential building block in the design of a memory care senior living environment.  The floor itself impacts safety, spatial orientation,  patient confidence, independence and staff. There are several varieties of high-performance soft surface and advanced textile composite flooring products engineered to stand up to the multipurpose demands of senior living spaces.

In theory and practice there is no ‘exact science’ in the design of memory care or dementia based senior living centers.  No single design element stands out on its own. Yet, the floor is certainly an integral part of the design as well as incorporating the color choice of the walls, doors, furniture and lighting.

Dependent on a center’s layout, carpets and other flooring can change from area to area. Typically, in facilities that offer memory care, assisted living, and independent living the community itself can differentiate areas through interior design. However diverse a range of specific need areas are offered, most facilities usually share common living spaces. Design elements (e.g., flooring & carpeting) can assist residents to differentiate between a particular wing or common space.

Senior Living Flooring in Philadelphia

Main Line Floors & Interiors for Memory Care

Main Line Floors & Interiors is a Philadelphia, PA area flooring distributor and installation contractor. We specialize in helping deliver the best flooring resources to assisted living and senior living environments.

Our work with industry experts is to raise awareness in appropriate design for dementia care facilities. We are committed to understanding the design needs in dementia and mental health to help deliver a better quality of life through building better living spaces.

The population suffering with dementia is set to increase as baby boomers age. We feel appropriate design is the key to help create safer environments to help seniors navigate their environment more easily. Following are some practical flooring and interior considerations to assist those inflicted with dementia. Moreover, we will address the design criteria intended to serve the needs of all seniors as a whole community.

Senior Living Centers of Today in Philadelphia

With the ever increasing demand of baby boomers downsizing and considering senior living communities, all facilities marketing to this demand find themselves immersed in a fight to increase occupancy.

In the past few decades, a movement began to “de-institutionalize” senior living or the traditional nursing home. This shift became more individual oriented than the traditional institutional focus based model.  As such, residents and care givers began to create nurturing communities together.

Since the average age of a resident is 82, there are about 70 million baby boomers a decade away from moving into these communities. The resident’s influence has tremendous input to today’s greater choice of amenities, services, and locations available across the continuum of care. These positive changes and market demand have challenged designers to create multi purpose of care giving communities.


Assisted Living Carpet Patterns

Designing Common Areas Flooring

Potentially there will be a culturally diverse group of people living in a single community. Accommodating the varied cultural and religious backgrounds can be a challenge.

Let’s look at some simple the facts.

Some residents are single and some are married. All have varying tastes, personal and care giver needs. Typically, single women comprise the resident majority in senior living communities, but let’s not overlook the needs of the male resident.

Designing for Men

Men’s needs cannot be overlooked. The designed amenities for men can include pool halls, card rooms, gyms or “pub like” bistros & bars. It is important to have areas designed where guys can be guys.

Designing for Women

Since senior women are the majority, senior living design trends for women focus on such amenities as hair & nail salons, as well as social engagement purposes. Many women enjoy playing cards, painting, cooking, crafts and so on. As such,  their activity rooms within possible separate areas need to be accommodating. Moreover, designated public cooking areas are becoming vogue in design.

Recently, “open” (or public) kitchens are in vogue design for senior living communities. These kitchens are available to all residents and can be used for group cooking sessions. These open kitchen concepts are therapeutic and create another social, home-like environments. Moreover, the aromas can help to stimulate the residents’ appetites and evoke feelings of comfort.

Luxury Vinyl Tile in Senior Living Community Kitchen

Design for All Residents

Whether it is independent living design, assisted living design or memory care design, all of the integrated looks play a pivotal role in the space. Designing space for couples, singles and people with a high level of acuity or residents in memory care should not stand out as an obvious design detail.

All the beauty and grace of one senior living environment should overflow into every other space and welcome all residents equally.


Interiors for Senior Living

Senior residents have varying degrees of challenges with everyday activities. They see, hear and smell things differently and may have strong opinions, especially about their surroundings.

Designing specifically for senior living communities must address these physical and emotional changes.

Quality of life

Whether creating a whole community with varying housing and assistance options or designing a stand-alone building dedicated to one area of care, many senior living communities desire the neighborhood concept.

From Isolation to Social Interaction

Each neighborhood may include shared areas for interaction, such as a dining room, sitting room, spa, kitchen, activity rooms, indoor sun porches and outdoor patios and gardens. These social areas are critical to drawing residents out of their rooms to prevent isolation and depression.

Fight Boredom!

Fighting boredom is essential to improve the quality of life for seniors. It is important that the resident’s physical, mental and emotional needs are all  met. Stimulating the mind can help to exercise not only the body but the brain. This is increasingly important as the population inflicted with Alzheimer’s dementia is estimated to nearly triple from 5.7 million to 14 million by 2050.

Research shows that cognitively active seniors are about 2.6 times less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease and dementia than those that are not. To keep the mind sharp, “brain gyms” are being used by more senior living communities. These spaces may be rooms that have computers, mind-challenging games, hobby spaces or areas where seniors can express creativity by painting, singing and drawing.

Creating a variety of dining options is another way to engage the resident in a pleasant dining experience and social interaction. Living centers are creating more options by integrating restaurant-like atmospheres like a bistro for a burger, a café for a soup or a formal dining space for a traditional fine-dining experience.


Senior Living Bistro

Types of social areas include beauty salons, pool halls and sitting rooms designed to increase resident social interaction. Games, social club meetings and even broadcast sports events can bring residents together to interact. All season porches overlooking gardens are also conducive for small gatherings.

Designing for outdoor spaces can also include such amenities as community green houses, croquet, putting greens, and walking paths or gardens.

Color and Color Combination

Color is mostly a matter of personal taste. From a cultural perspective, some colors are associated with specific feelings and evoke emotions per our cultural understanding. Essentially, all colors affect us subconsciously.

Interior Color Design for All Residents

Those living with memory loss often have issues with depth perception. As such, when selecting a carpet for a memory care facility, consider color contrast. Please note, color contrast should not be too high to ensure residents do not feel unbalanced. A simple subtle patterned carpet is a great way to add an enhanced design element while still being functional to the residents.

For more information on color and design for senior living centers click here.

Memory Care Flooring & Vibrant Color

Senior Living Flooring Design Considerations

  • Safety: Textured surfaces increase traction and stability. The textured surface can provide an ergonomically supportive environment that facilitates mobility and ease of movement. Increased underfoot stability also significantly decreases the overall risk of slips and falls. As such, reducing impact and injury.
  • Comfort: Underfoot cushioning reduces leg fatigue for staff and residents, while soft surfaces reduce visual glare and absorb light.
  • Acoustics: Sound absorption & noise dampening help create peaceful, inviting environments, and promote personal interaction and engagement.
  • Indoor Air Quality: Soft surface fibers will entrap allergens and airborne particles until they can be removed during cleaning.

Safety and Accessibility

Every design should start with safety as its priority in senior living design. Since some of the functional abilities of seniors are reduced, they can experience difficulty navigating their environment. Seniors experience weakening joints, poor vision, declining spatial skills and frailty. As such, they are at higher risk for falls and injuries.

The communities’ layout, interior colors, textures, lighting and many other considerations are factors for consideration to create a safe and effective healing environment.

Closely related to safety, ease of access into and around the facility is also important for seniors.

Senior Living Luxury Vinyl Tile

Seniors Perception of Tile & Glossy Floors

Seniors tend to perceive tile and waxed floors as a slick surface whether or not the floor is actually slippery. This can make them unsteady on their feet. To help reduce the real or perceived risk of slips and falls, many health care facilities are minimizing waxed and tiled flooring and are using non-glare or matte flooring products.

There are many other products that are pleasing to the eyes and easy to maintain. Luxury vinyl plank flooring that simulates any conceivable wood pattern or color tone are very easy to maintain and create homelike environments.

Many seniors shuffle their feet, so it is critical to create smooth transitions to reduce tripping hazards. Some flooring manufacturers offer products that do not require transitions. For example, sheet vinyl and carpet can be welded at the seams, thus eliminating the transition strip and reducing the tripping hazard.

To make it easier and more desirable for seniors to keep their bodies moving, designers should consider incorporating indoor walking paths or corridors.

Senior Living Flooring

Acoustics and Lighting

Good acoustics for seniors can correlate to quieter environments. Loud environments (i.e., especially considering dementia care residents) can induce stress, anxiety, irritability and confusion for seniors and others.

To help reduce noise and create a quiet, calming environment, designers should consider acoustical ceilings with high noise-reduction coefficients. In some instances, acoustic wall panels could be added to reduce noise when reverberations may be too high otherwise, as in most dining rooms.

Ceiling clouds or suspended acoustic panels can be used in lobby areas where there typically is hard surface flooring. Carpet also can be used to help reduce noise in common spaces.

Finish choices

Evidence based design shows a strong connection between healing and stimulating interiors. As such, living spaces that incorporate an interesting use of color or focus on nature and natural patterns can stimulate health. There is no need for over use of neutral color schemes.

Natural Colors and Patterns

Colors found in nature can reduce stress and promote healing.

Perception of color is a dynamic force. Generational preferences and how eyes perceive colors vary among age groups. Seniors typically see 20 percent less color saturation and often have yellowing of the eye lens, which makes colors appear yellower to them.

Watery shades of beach glass, topaz and blues promote peace and serenity. Blues and green wavelengths also are easier to perceive, making them more restful. Earthy shades of rock, stone, terra cotta, espresso and soil connect residents to the natural world. Wood shades of soft moss, leaves and lichen promote balance and harmony. Air shades of linen, white and cream promote sincerity, hope and spirituality.

Soft colors or colors of similar intensities are difficult for the aging eye to discern. As such, the use of pastel colors can appear dull and sometimes gray to seniors. More saturated hues are easier for the aging eye to decipher.

Studies indicate that seniors have an aesthetic appeal toward certain patterns and textures. However, designers should carefully choose patterns for wall coverings and carpets. Subtle patterns that are not considered confusing are more appropriate than bold geometric forms or high contrasting patterns.

It’s best to select patterns that do not encourage a perception of visual movement. Patterns can be visually disturbing to aging eyes and can cause agitation. Designers should avoid big floral patterns, because these patterns can appear to move.

Colors as visual cues. Similar-toned walls and floors make it difficult for aging eyes to see where one surface ends and the next begins. To help alleviate this confusion — and make the environment safer for seniors — contrasting colors should be used. Contrasting colors between walls and floors, steps and landings, and furnishings and floors help to differentiate between surfaces and planes.

Similarly, designers of senior living communities should consider introducing pops of color at key activity areas to stimulate the residents and to add definitive destinations in corridors.

When designing memory care communities, it is good for designers to minimize the entry. Any doors that are not part of the program space can be painted to match the wall color so they blend in with the corridor. This helps with way finding and minimizes anxiety. Residents can use their indoor wandering trails without being distracted by a lot of doors.

Contrasting floor colors within a building can be used to indicate that certain areas are off-limit or indicate a clearly different space.

Light Refection Values (LRV) 
LRV ratings are an important design tool for dementia environments.

Combinations of various colors and other interior products can be made by using identical or contrasting LRV’s for the area that needs to be furnished. As LRV’s are a universal measurement for all materials, also the LRV of wall covering or furniture can be measured against the colours chosen for the floor. In our set-up you can see the light reflection values of all products grouped together which allows you to make a choice within a certain LRV range or decide to go beyond that. In this way the LRV guide of the dementia flooring selection provides a practical tool for designers of dementia environments


Senior living communities have many special requirements that designers must consider. In review of demographic trends, these requirements will be challenging to the health care design community in the coming years.

Main Line Floors and Interiors focuses on the supply and installation of high end residential and commercial carpets and flooring. However, we have great products and installations for Builders, Multi-family, Senior Living, Hospitality and the Real Estate Investor / House Flipper. We proudly serve the Philadelphia, PA metro area, Delaware and South New Jersey region.

Feel free to leave a comment if this post was helpful or informative. I hope it was.

Thank you,

Main Line Floors & Interiors


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13 Replies to “Design for Senior Living Centers and Memory Care in Philadelphia”

  1. Awesome article with such great advice. My mom was in an assisted living till just a few months ago. And hers was done just as you say here . In muted earth tones with some slight muted pops of color. With different types of floor. Enjoyed your article and it was right on point with all I’ve personally seen.

    1. Scarlett,

      Thank you for the comment. Yes, we are trying to make a difference with Senior Living trends. Muted earth tones can emulate nature and serenity, but sounds like some more pops of color may have caught your eye. Thanks again!

  2. Hi Jive,
    What a fabulous article, written by someone who knows what they are talking about.I work in elderly care and I love some of your ideas for care homes for the elderly.
    The brain gym is really cool, one of the major diseases is Dementia so any activity that keeps the brain active has to be a good thing.
    Well done!

    1. Fintan,

      Thank you for your comments and compliments. Hopefully, you can use some of our ideas like the brain gym and introduce them to your facility. Yes, it is certainly a great practice to keep the brain active, especially when so many seniors tend to isolate themselves.

      Thanks again!

  3. Hi! Great post!
    A few years ago, my grandfather had to be placed in a dementia care facility, so I toured about 6 different ones in the Philly suburbs. They were all so different – the lowest “rent” ones looked more like hospitals. The floors were the old tiles and the walls were cinderblock – not very homey at all. Of course the newest and most expensive were gorgeous and utilized the neighborhood concepts. I remember they had the vinyl plank wood look floor and it looks really nice and is obviously easy to clean. My grandfather ended up being placed in a middle of the road one that was more like a house than a hospital.

    That is truly a scary statistic – that 14 million people will have dementia in 2050…..

  4. As my parents get older, we are looking into assisted living facilities for them and senior buildings. We want to make sure they are comfortable, and seeing this article really gives me some great information to make sure their needs are addressed. I just wanted to pop in and tell you thank you for a thorough job in giving me so much information to help my parents in this quest.

    1. Hi Babs,

      Thank you for your input. Believe it or not, there is much consideration that goes into the design of Senior Living facilities today. Obviously, safety is the primary consideration, but ease of maintenance as well as color and pattern choice to achieve a pleasant psychological experience (or feeling) is also necessary to create comfort. Our seniors do indeed deserve this extra care and consideration to make their living space exciting, comfortable, home-like as well as functional. It’s simply attention to detail that makes the difference. The designs in terms of safety must “work” for all residents who have varying needs. Thank you for your kind words about our detailed perspective. We wish you the best in you and your family’s pursuit to help your parents find a safe and beautiful home in their next stage of living. Thanks again!

      Main Line Floors & Interiors

  5. Hello ! Awesome post with great detail !
    I love your ideas and concepts for senior facilities. My grandmother had Alzheimer and after reading your post I can certainly see how having a “brain gym” room would of helped. She also became more clumsy and her vision got worse as time went by. Even though my grandmother was not kept in a nursing home for the elderly I can see how having the right lighting, colors, floor texture, and pattern would of help reduce a few accident. Great ideas and details with reason behind them !

    1. Hello Fernando,

      Thank you for your comments. I am sorry to hear that your grandmother has Alzheimer’s related dementia. Yes, the “Brain Gym” is an amazing concept that works! Seniors and those suffering with dementia related aging will suffer from decline in vision and this directly impacts their safety in terms of mobility. Yes, with aging related vision problems are loved ones experience problems with perception, especially depth perception.As such, it is always best to outline and/or increase visual awareness. As such, design consideration for proper lighting, colors, texture and pattern all have an influence in the overall design for safety. We should all have those visual cues to guide us, but it is most important for senior living design. Furniture also should be incorporated into the design and depict highlighted edges or boundaries.

      Thank you again for your comments!!!

      Kindest regards,

      Main Line Flooring & Interiors

  6. This gave me great insite…my grandfather just turned 92 and we are struggling just now with his aging problems. I’m going to mention some of these to my family.

    1. Marsha,

      Thanks for the comment. We wish you and your family the best for helping with your grandfather’s needs. Our aging Seniors deserve our attention to detail especially to keep their safety in mind. Thank you! I am glad some of our design criteria can be of assistance to your family’s decision.

  7. I am an interior designer myself, and I never came across such an informative post on Senior Citizen living centers, I love the attention to detail to allow them a better life.
    I particularly enjoyed how you went into details on colors and contrast. Very informative, thank you!

    1. Sahar,

      Thank you for your comments. Yes, at Main Line Flooring & Interiors we are working with some incredible designers and builders of Senior Living centers to create elegant and fresh decors that are safe for all members of the community. Much safety design considerations are necessary to create a functional atmosphere for the workers as well as the residents who may have varying needs for mobility. Please keep in mind, that modern day senior living centers offer varying degrees of care, hospitality, food & beverage services and special amenities. As such, much thought is required for safety, functionality and maintenance. Thank you for your kind words about the detail we explore in color and contrast. It’s imperative in today’s market to design decors that are as uplifting and elegant as they are safe and functional. Thanks again!!

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