Home » Blog » Effective Senior Living Community Wayfinding Signage

When it comes to signage for your senior living community, there are several factors to consider: residents and visitors. Your facility hosts a variety of people with varying degrees of abilities and disabilities. For this reason, the wayfinding system within senior communities has arguably the biggest job in the facility. Building signage that reflects your facility’s personality and sense of community is undoubtably important, however, proper wayfinding signage is a critical, and yet, sometimes overlooked element in these designs. Given the wide range of both guests and residents, it’s critical that your wayfinding system works for everyone.

Do your own internal audit: upon approach, can visitors easily determine how to get to the main entrance? Can they tell which door leads to the lobby? Effective directional signage, coupled with architectural elements and lighting can help convert today’s visitors into future residents.

Here are some of the best wayfinding solutions to help your residents and visitors navigate your senior living community.

1. Keep it Simple

Signs should send a clear, comprehensive, and consistent message. Your residents and visitors should not have to decipher information on a sign. Many seniors may no longer be able to understand complex language or writing. Stick between two to five words at most, and, in some cases, it’s best to place images instead of words altogether.

2. Emphasize what is important and downplay what isn’t

Not all signage is created equal. Directional signage that is meant for the staff shouldn’t be given the same treatment as signage meant to help residents find their way. Bright, cheerful colors with an appropriate level of contrast work well for people with dementia, so don’t confuse them with messages that mean nothing to them and related to staff - stick to smaller signs and muted tones for staff-directed signage.

3. Images = Information

Up to 50% of retirement community residents suffer from obvious hearing loss. Verbal announcements can cause messages to be lost in translation. Images are the best option to combat the audible challenges. Despite visual impairment, residents can typically see images on a large screen. Digital wayfinding signs communicate practical information that pertains to them, such as alerts and locations for upcoming events.

Adding graphics and images is an excellent way to enhance your message and connect with your community. Digital displays placed strategically in entrances, hallways and common areas are great ways to keep people updated with things like:

  • Vital safety facts
  • Changes in location of certain activities
  • Activities and entertainment
  • Menus
  • Other important campus information to boost resident awareness

4. Promote your identity with the right colors

Signage should reflect your facility’s personality and sense of community. The best wayfinding systems reinforce your brand – so don’t be afraid to use your logo, style, and probably most importantly – color.  Color not only plays a huge part in how well your facility can be navigated by your residents, but also is a major contributor to mood and emotion. Some of the most popular colors used in senior living communities include green, blue, white, yellow, red, and brown. These can be intermixed depending on the sign’s function. Blues and greens tend to help people feel more relaxed, while red is more of a stimulating color indicating the information is worth their attention. Signs that indicate restricted areas, for example, should be eye-catching for safety purposes.

5. Effective and Compliant ADA Signage

Even the prettiest and most effective wayfinding systems must also comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), fire codes and other local requirements. ADA laws mandate sign position, finish and contrast, typestyles, character height, and Braille requirements for all facilities with ten or more employees.

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