What Seniors Want

Ten things older adults want

Senior Couple at Computer, ipadIf you’re involved in independent living apartments, assisted living residences, rehabilitation services, or nursing homes, you’re familiar with the amenities these residences and services offer. But what do the people who use them really want?

Research on this topic has allowed me to pull this list together for you. Below are ten top things that people say they want as they go through life’s stages:

  1. “Don’t call me senior”. We all want to be recognized first and foremost as the human beings we are inside. As we get older, we’re still the emotional, life-filled adults who we were when we were twenty. But wiser! So, what do “seniors” want to be called? People.
  2. To “live in place.” Many people don’t think about the aging process. They move forward one-day-at-a-time, and prefer to live in familiar surroundings. Of course, there’s help if this should become difficult or impossible, ranging from home-healthcare to full nursing home care. Yet, as human beings, this is difficult to plan for.
  3. People want to:
    • Stay close to friends and family
    • Have the ability to socialize with others easily
    • Remain engaged in the community
    • Interact with people of all ages
  4. To feel at home. When asked, people said this means:
    • A well-designed home and floor plan that will be workable at any age and stage of physical needs
    • Spacious living quarters
    • Storage for their items
    • Windows and light
  5. They prefer not to ask for help. People like to remain independent and able to take care of themselves. Should there come a time in their lives when they need to ask for help, they want to know who to ask. Residences have many people working there, and it’s helpful to let residents know who to ask for what services or items.
  6. People can be nervous about the costs associated with getting extra help or moving to a new residence. They want to know:
    • How much does it cost?
    • Are there charges for changing needs?
    • Are there “hidden” costs?
    • What happens if the money runs out?
  7. Staying physically fit is important so that people feel strong, are able to secure their needs, and can move easily.
    • Walking trails
    • Proximity to parks
  8. Transportation is a must for doctors’ appointments and other necessities. And, it allows people to remain involved outside a residence, in activities within the community.
    • Transportation via car or mini bus provided by residence
    • Access to safe public transportation (depending on abilities and desire of residents)
  9. Whenever people move, or give up any amount of their independence, they need to know they can rely on the people who are there to help them, and on the soundness of the building they’re living in. They need to be safe from:
    • Crime/fraud
    • Abuse
    • Falls and accidents in and out of the home
    • Security

And they want to have control over their own environment

  1. Disaster preparedness—people need to know what to do in case of an emergency, like a tornado or fire.

It’s important to address the needs of the population we serve so they can continue to live full, safe and happy lives.
The information for this article is from the following websites:







Everyday Happiness

What makes you happy?

Many of us will answer: time with friends and family. Other things like a beautiful home, great food, travel, and a new car/phone/furniture may be added to this list. And what about intellectual stimulation, spiritual connections, and physical strengthening?  They’re important too, and in many ways essential to well-being.

What happens when someone we love needs help with daily living? Perhaps more assistance than we, or even a home health agency, can provide for them? We’re concerned not only with their health and safety, but with their happiness. Up until fairly recently, the options were rather limited, and nursing homes, while important for more intense physical help were not the best choice for someone whose needs were less restricted. Today’s assisted living residences are uniquely equipped to help those who need help but are still of an independent mind and heart. Many are new, attractively decorated, and homey. The food is better prepared with fresh ingredients and a wide variety.  Some residences hire chefs to prepare food—meals that are both nutritious and delicious.

Senior Couple DancingIf you’ve had the opportunity to visit an assisted living facility, or a full campus of senior care services, you already know how far we’ve come from yesterday’s nursing homes. Yet, when someone we love might benefit from the help that can be provided for them, we hesitate. Will my loved one be happy there? How will they feel about this change in their independence? Are they ready for this? Am I ready for this?
And what about our loved one—our parent or aunt, friend or relative? They like living on their own, they love their home. They’re in familiar surroundings and they and don’t want this change. It’s a serious decision and one that needs to be made carefully.

Studies have shown that senior care facilities can offer an opportunity for people to socialize on a daily basis, one that they may not have living alone. And, those seniors who socialize at least three hours a day are happy. Happier than those who don’t. In my work with assisted living facilities, I’ve heard personal stories of people who were unhappy, or having difficulty in some area of communication, and who blossomed from the daily socializing they experienced when they moved into an assisted living home. For more information, check out these reports:


And, as you’re reading this, remember to keep your social life active—and increase your happiness!


Save money beautifully with two-color printing

Green Bay FilmfestYou can save money by printing in two colors even today, in the digital age. And, two-color design can give as rich a look, and sometimes even a better look, than four-color.

The Green Bay Film Fest, designed their poster using Pantone 072 red and black. The colors are strong and make a bright poster that is easy to pick out and easy to read. The design is simple yet modern and fun.

Ad_2c1Color sets a mood. In this example, the subject matter is further defined by the use of black with Pantone 312 blue. Narrowing the color usage to these two allows the look and the words to convey a somber tone.

Ad_4c1Compare the 2-color ad with this one. Notice that although the photo is the same, and the background color is the same, the four-color display of the photo actually detracts from the overall effect of the ad.

Even happier subjects can use a 2-color format to their advantage. Note how the combination of the excited gesture and the bright color in this postcard displays a cheerful mood. The balloons don’t hurt either!

When choosing which colors to use in a two-color piece, first consider the logo colors of your company. Choose one of those colors for the Pantone color, and then choose black for the second color. Two-color designs can use two Pantone colors and no black, but you run the risk of muddying up the art with unexpected results. So, experiment first to see what looks the best.

Ad_2c2Another good way to make color decisions is by looking at the psychology and meaning of different colors. For example, yellow is seen as cheerful, red as energizing, blue as calming. There are books written on the subject and websites that talk about color psychology. Pay attention to culture as well, some colors have different meanings in other cultures, and you’ll want to make sure that your choices are seen as positive. It’s a fun adventure to learn how emotions are tied into what we see.

Bart StarrMetallics can also be used as the second color, along with black. Pantone has a wide range of metallics. I used Pantone gold with black in this book about the 1959 Packers, and chose an ivory paper for the book to be printed on. The photos are duotones made up of the metallic gold and black. This gave it an aged, yet rich look, that goes along well with the wealth of history of the Green Bay Packers organization. Using a metallic ink can mean extra cleanup time on press, and may be translate into cost savings. But the effect of the ink can far outweigh the pricing.

As you, or your designer, work with fewer colors, you may be pleasantly surprised to find that, not only does it save you money, but you’ll want to use it in more marketing pieces whether for print or web, because of the splendid results you’ll get. Color on!

Maribeth Conard is owner of Conard Creative Group LLC, a small design house with a lot of muscle. She has been in advertising design since 1991 and has won awards for her graphic design and fine art pieces.

Inspiration found in Israel and Jordan

When 2010 started, Israel and Jordan were not on my radar. I was bebopping along, running my freelance design business and had just started teaching visual communications classes at ITT Tech. I found that teaching caused me to refresh my knowledge in my field, which in turn improved my work and ultimately was good for my clients. And it was incredible to see the growth in the students as we moved through the quarter. Earlier, I had started working on “The Artists Way” which called for writing and introspection. During this time I wrote about the desire to travel, and visited places of inspiration like the John Michael Kohler Arts Museum and the Green Bay Botanical Garden to bring more creativity and visual stimulation to my work. Then came the communication that sparked the most amazing experience.

Dinner in Israel

Christina Trombley, who is the Director at the UW-Green Bay Small Business Development Center, sent me an email, asking whether I’d be interested in becoming a mentor in the Young Entrepreneur’s Program (YEP). Jay Harris, International Projects Coordinator, was instrumental in making this entrepreneur program possible. It was an opportunity for 10 young entrepreneurs from Israel and Jordan to come to – yes – Green Bay, Wisconsin and learn about operating a small business. Along with classes ranging from marketing, to business planning, to finances, each woman was to be matched with an entrepreneur, serving as a mentor, in her field. The mentors would meet with the mentees while they were in Green Bay, discussing business, sharing experiences, guiding and introducing them to other business experts. Then, for two weeks in the summer, a group of educators and business people, including the mentors, were to travel from Green Bay to Israel and Jordan to meet once again with the young entrepreneurs.

Inspiration. I don’t know what answered that quest more strongly — the small business classes presented by our University of Wisconsin – Green Bay guides, visits to the small business centers, educational facilities, and museums in both Israel and Jordan, or entering and touring the sites of ancient civilizations in both countries.

Maribeth at Masada
Jerusalem Mosaic

At Avni Institute of Art and Design in Jaffa, Nirit Vulfson, the Israeli graphic designer who I am mentoring, and I saw many amazing ideas in the gallery by the students to improve the design of  the three-dimensional and two-dimensional environments we live in. Our group from Green Bay met members of the small business centers in cities like Be’er Shiva and learned how they are nurturing the growth of businesses, and how important small business is to their economy, as it is here in the United States. We walked on the streets of Tel Aviv and Jaffa, where old and lovely buildings meet new and architecturally stunning. And in the streets of Jerusalem, we were enveloped by the spirits and spirituality of  descendents of three of the major religions of the world whose feet have touched those cobblestones from thousands of years ago to today.

Near the Wadi Rum
The Treasury at Petra

The trip that touched me most in Jordan was the one to the women’s small business initiative, where the director and staff helped women expand their home industries — like cheese making, olive preserving, sewing — into small businesses that would bring extra income into their homes and help their families. And in contrast, in the city of Amman, we attended Rotary and Chamber events that included owners and employees of larger existing businesses. The angular exteriors of the city’s buildings held lavish and lovely interiors of chandeliers and marble, or modern, metropolitan-style designs. In Jerash, we were able to walk in the ruts in cobblestone roads that were made by Roman carts long ago. Columns lining the roads were a proud mix of Greek and Roman styles, showing some of the different civilizations who lived in this city. At Petra, we walked through canyons of intensely colored rock, with hints of civilization, that opened almost suddenly onto the stunning Treasury of Petra carved into an entire wall of rock in front of us. We saw and touched ancient symbols carved into rocks in the Wadi Rum. And a night in that desert revealed a vast array of stars overhead, that were dimmed only by the brilliant light of the moon.

The marvel of the cities and the countryside in Israel and Jordan don’t even touch the inspiration and wonder gained from the people we met, and most of all from the ten young women we mentor. In our conversations, in what we taught each other, in what we shared from the heart, cultural walls were removed and we became friends and family. And we realized that we all want the same things in this world. Peace. Prosperity. Freedom to live, work and use our talents, help to support our families, each in our own manner.

What does this mean for you my friend?  It means I am refreshed. I am seeing the world with new eyes and have returned to my artistic roots, led there by the young entrepreneurs. The sights and knowledge gained from my travels have entered into my work. And this paves the way to making new connections for you and your business. I look forward to working with you.

I am grateful for the nine other mentors I met, worked with, and shared so much with during this experience, for the University of Wisconsin – Green Bay educators and professionals who taught us, traveled with us, laughed with us, and for the 10 Israeli and Jordanian entrepreneurs who opened their professional, personal and cultural lives to us. They have changed my life and outlook and I carry them with me always. 2010 was so full of new growth and adventure, it just makes me wonder — what will 2011 bring?

– Maribeth

Wishing you prosperity and good connections in 2011 and — Shalom, Salam, Peace.

To learn more about the young entrepreneurs program, see the links on the right.

Combining fun and loving care in one brand

watermarkHow does one show loving care, fun and professionalism all in one brand identity? That is what Paul and Jolene Moran, who were building a new assisted living facility with a resort-style theme, needed answered.

They built their first facility almost twenty years ago, when Jolene’s grandmother needed a place to live. Not finding anything that felt like home with the loving care they wanted for Jolene’s grandmother, Paul and Jolene decided to build their own facility. Now, they were venturing into a new building style, with added fun, and a future in franchising.

I set out to answer the above question and undertake Century Oaks, Inc. new look and image.

Because the art needs to illustrate the story, I begin at the beginning of that story, by meeting with the client and learning, absorbing who they are, where their business is, and where they want to go. And when working with a writer, the written story becomes an integral part of the design development. In this case, the writer, Judy Keneklis, wrote an outline of the main points with headlines and subheads, a solid, creative base to move forward from. The art and the copy work together to develop the image.

Color says so much visually and psychologically that as shapes and ideas were swirling in my head, I began analyzing color palettes. For added impact, I choose colors based on their meanings. For the first color palette, I put together shades of brown, gold, green and orange. Here are the meanings:

Brown: wholesome; steadfast; simplicity; friendly; dependability; health

Gold: cheerful; joyous; richness

Green: growth; renewal; balance; stability; harmony; health

Orange: energy; warmth; stimulant of emotions and appetite

color palette 1
The first palette contains four warm, earthy colors

These four colors also work obviously well with the name Century Oaks. Next, I sought a color palette that had meaning tied in with the combination of the colors. To give the image a current look, I started with the Pantone 2010 color of the year (Turquoise) and then chose the color combination most suited to the meaning of what Century Oaks is all about. This combination and its meaning are:

Turquoise, gold, bright purple and deep tan: innovative; spontaneous; practical; trustful; insightful; calming

Color palette 2
This palette is fun and friendly

Next came combining the colors with photos and shapes to continue the emotional feel. Soft yet fun swirls gave the shapes lively movement, and photos of people, close up, were used to bring the viewer into the picture. At first, these were two different ideas, but because the client loved them both, the two styles were melded to be used in conjunction with one another. See the two initial layouts below:

Century Oaks ads

Century Oaks logoFor the logo, I combined the botanical movement of the designs with an oak leaf and acorn. This logo is slightly reminiscent of a wax stamp on an envelope, making what it represents a bit of personal treasure. The green is the same green used in the first color palette above, and the brown is a darker brown to allow it to stand out and remain legible in 2-color uses.

In the ad layouts above, one design is soft and warm, full of love and caring, the other is fun and spirited. In some instances, the styles are used separately, however the ads were changed for continuity and branding, with both styles using the same fonts, the same composition of photos, the same overall layout, and the gold used in each palette is the same. In the next piece, I combined both styles to give the viewer a complete “picture”  of what Century Oaks is all about. This brochure wraps the viewer as closely into the Century Oaks experience as  a 2-dimensional piece possibly can.

Brochure, closed
Here is the brochure "closed", ready to be opened

Brochure, openThis overall image is being used throughout Century Oaks’ print pieces, will be used in their web site, and even the radio spots contain the same feel. The writing for the pieces was handled beautifully by Judy Keneklis of Keneklis Business Writing, and she truly tells the story of the care and commitment that Century Oaks has for their residents — along with their ability to keep fun in life! I’m thankful for Judy’s collaboration and for the input from Paul and Jolene. If you’d like to see the new building for yourself, head on down to Oshkosh on Saturday, June 12, from 11-4, or Sunday, June 13 from 10-2 for a tour. Bring your appetite because there will be free food, and fun for the family. And, you could win a TV!

Picture Perfect

Are you putting together a flyer for your business, but somehow the photos aren’t quite right? It can be tricky to get photos to look professional and attractive in your layout. Here are some tips that can help you.

  • When placing photos into your document, if they need to be resized, click on the photo, hold down the shift key, and drag a corner of the photo to make it smaller. This allows the photo to change size proportionately, so you don’t get a “squished” or “stretched” look.

  • Photos can be resized smaller in dimension without worrying about losing too much image quality, however sizing a photo “up” can create a dotty look, because the program is trying to “fill in” information that isn’t there. Therefore, only make your photos smaller in a document. If you need a larger photo, and the original file isn’t large enough, retake the photo for the best printed quality. Compare the quality in the resized photos below:

  • Check the resolution of your photos and use high resolution — 300 dpi — for print, and low resolution — 72 dpi — for email or web. Print requires the higher resolution to print smooth colors for definition, while monitors can use low resolution to display vibrant photos. Low resolution photos also download faster so that your web pages load more quickly, and are much more likely to pass through email than high resolution images.
  • If you do a lot of work with photos, consider using image editing software. Adobe Photoshop is a professional quality image editor that you can purchase and use to color correct, add lighting, enhance photos with artistic filters, and do much more with. If you use a PC and only occasionally work with photos, or are working with your personal photo collection, you may want to consider Microsoft’s Window’s Live Photo Gallery.

Now you’re ready to wrap the type around your photos and complete your layout. These little tips will help it to appear clean, crisp and visually appealing.

    Maribeth Conard is owner of Conard Creative Group LLC, a small design house with a lot of muscle. She has been in advertising design since 1991 and has won awards for her graphic design and fine art pieces.

Create a more polished image

So, you’ve been doing business and have some printed pieces: a brochure, a business card, an ad. Maybe even a web site. But nothing seems to be working together. It’s time to create a more polished image.
Here are some points to be aware of when developing your image:

  • Photos draw the most visual attention.
  • Photos of children, babies and puppies are the most compelling.
  • Fonts need to be kept to a minimum and different fonts should complement each other – for example, a flowing script headline with a traditional serif font.
  • Headlines can use decorative or traditional serif/sans serif fonts.
  • Body copy needs to use legible fonts, usually traditional serif/sans serif fonts.
  • Color sets the mood. Colors mean different things, for example, yellow denotes joy, red- passion, blue-stability. Choose a color palate and use it across the board.
  • Be sure the image works with your logo. Don’t have a logo? Hire someone to develop one.

Finally, put together a style book, one that shows correct logo usage, your palate of colors, fonts, and some sample layouts with copy. Make sure everyone who is working on your company communications gets a copy, and uses it.

What if you don’t have an in-house marketing department with designers and writers? Hire professionals. There are small companies and freelancers who specialize in copy writing, marketing, graphic design, photography, web site development, video and radio spots. It will be an investment, but will pay off in the long-run, giving your company polished, professional and effective communication tools.

Maribeth Conard is owner of Conard Creative Group LLC, a small design house with a lot of muscle. She has been in advertising design since 1991 and has won awards for her graphic design and fine art pieces.