With the way the population is aging, everyone who designs and builds healthcare spaces is involved in designing for the senior market. Facilities that specifically cater to the elderly will have to expand and grow; other facilities, from doctors’ offices to retail clinics to hospitals, have steadily been paying more attention to design elements that are elder-friendly.

At the Healthcare Design Conference in November, I attended an interesting session on elder design with a personal touch: One of the presenters from SmithGroup had followed her grandfather around with a camera as he navigated the physical space to attend a routine doctor’s appointment. The session provided a clear perspective on the issues—some of which were obvious from the video, but others, less so. As I attended other sessions at the conference, those issues came up again and again, relating whatever the topic was—color trends, emergency department flow, toilet-room location—to how an older patient might be affected by design choices.

The program lineup for this year’s Environments for Aging (EFA) conference (presented by Long-Term Living and Healthcare Design magazines and The Center for Health Design) really digs into all facets of designing for this demographic, which is why I’m looking forward to attending EFA this April. (Also a draw: It’s in New Orleans.) In addition to the broad roster of sessions and big-picture-illuminating keynotes, pre-show facility tours include a huge continuing-care retirement community, a new assisted-living facility housed within a 19th century building, and the Armed Forces Retirement Home in Gulfport, Miss.

If elder-conscious design doesn’t already play into your space-planning process, it will—and soon. If you’re interested, you can find more details about the conference on the EFA website. Early-bird registration pricing ends February 6; to register, simply click here.