Helping seniors live independent, healthy, happy lives

‘More than half don’t have the financial means to care for themselves in retirement’

ROANOKE, Va. – A Roanoke-based company is shining a national spotlight on issues facing seniors and possible solutions to solve them.

On Wednesday, SFCS – an architecture, engineering and interior design firm geared towards seniors – hosted its 35th annual By Design conference at Hotel Roanoke. More than 250 industry experts from across the country attended to discuss how the latest research, technology, and building design principles can improve lives for the aging population.

Melissa Pritchard, the managing principal for SFCS, said that the challenge for seniors is finding and affording the care and facilities they need.

“More than half don’t have the financial means to care for themselves in retirement," Pritchard said.

SFCS designs everything from residential bathrooms to retirement communities that serve thousands of people. Their goal is to use innovative designs and technology to increase independence and help seniors live healthier lives.

At the conference, industrial design students at Virginia Tech presented some of their projects, designed to help the elderly. They spent the fall semester interviewing seniors at a retirement home, and designed and built inventions to help seniors in everyday life. Projects included a shopping cart, lights that help people with poor depth perception and vision, and a cutting board that can be operated with just one hand, which is perfect for stroke victims or anyone with limited mobility.

“Our grandparents have experienced these sorts of difficulties,” said junior Dana Werlich. “[My classmate’s] grandmother had a stroke. So he actually brought this home for thanksgiving and had her try it adn she really loved it. SO it was exciting to see the impact this has.”

Pritchard said that the industry still has a lot to learn and a long way to go, but this conference and the advances that are being made are a positive step in the right direction.

“Things happen here that truly make seniors’ lives better," said Pritchard.

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