As many of you know, this Westchester County interior decorator has a 92 year old dad who lives close by in an Atria Assisted Living Facility.
The Facility is just about to paint, and upon visiting my dad the other day, I spoke to the Executive Director about her color choices. It is my understanding that thoughtful color choices in design can help bring comfort and serenity to the elderly and that trends are completely unimportant in this kind of setting.
The physical, psychological and emotional responses of the aging population have become paramount for long term and short term care facilities. While patients at any age can feel fragile in such a setting, aging patients with dementia are particularly vulnerable. Color and decor can help compensate for some of their physical and cognitive loss.
Jennifer Paist, an interior decorator at Horty Elving, a design firm out of Minneapolis that specializes in senior communities and facilities, takes her inspiration from nature. According to Paist, “green is a calming color and gives a sense of life and new beginnings; browns and earthy neutrals can be grounding; and blues can soothe and instill confidence. Using the blue tones in bedrooms can create tranquility while brighter colors like reds and yellows, in the dining room of a memory care facility, can help stimulate the appetite and engage the senses.”
As a result of my dad’s macular degeneration, I have learned that as the lens of the eye hardens and thickens with age, colors appear more gray – subtle shade variations are very difficult for him to see. That’s why he never sees stains on his clothing! And he is not alone. Clearer and brighter colors often work better than muted ones. And, as the retina declines in sensitivity, contrast becomes more difficult. It’s hard to know where one room begins and ends. Consequently, a high contrast can help delineate objects, sharp edges and levels, minimizing accidents that could result from compromised depth perception.
Sherwin Williams is introducing a new color collection, specifically for the healthcare environment – both acute care and senior living – providing everyone associated with planning these facilities with this information and a palette that they can use with confidence. My hat goes off to Sherwin Williams because they really get it. Acknowledging the aging population and the importance of understanding the impact of color on decor for senior communities, is a sound economic and marketing strategy and makes Sherwin Williams my paint of choice!