Residents' Preference for Spatial Features in Sitting Areas at Assisted Living Facilities - Focused on direct or indirect social interaction for older adults -

Lee, Min-Ah;Rodiek, Susan D.

  • Received : 2013.03.25
  • Accepted : 2013.05.08
  • Published : 2013.06.30


This study investigated residents' preferences for spatial features of sitting areas in assisted living facilities, and provides recommendations for planning sitting areas to support residents' spatial preferences and social interaction. The study participants were 69 residents of eight assisted living facilities (30+ resident capacity), located in south central Texas. A photographic comparison method was used, in which residents were shown 20 matched pairs of photos, with a single feature digitally modified in each pair, and asked to select which environmental representation they preferred. The hypothesized spatial characteristics were identified in practice based literature as those that may encourage usage of sitting areas: viewability, variety, homelikeness, and privacy. Most of the hypothesized features were preferred by participants, with the highest preference found for non-institutional furniture arrangements and naturalness, followed by increasing enclosure and variety of seating. Preference was less significant for domestic cues such as carpeted floors, divided light windows, and boundaries defined by different colored material or columns, possibly due to their physical impairments or preference for visual openness. Participants' level of mobility assistance was significantly related to their preference for some features, such as seating with people-watching capability, and carpeted floors. The findings have implications for facility architects and administrators engaged in resident-oriented spatial planning.


assisted living facilities;spatial features;sitting areas;social interactions


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