Colour is a powerful communication tool, triggering emotions and memories for care home residents.
It is found that different shapes, features, colours and contrasts can all be useful tools for helping people with dementia.
“Visual contrasting of colours is proven to reduce agitated behaviour, but people with visual impairments cannot always distinguish subtle colour changes,” says architect Lauren Di Pietro from DWA Architects.
She added that due to natural thickening of the lens of the eye with age, or impairments such as macular degeneration, some people may experience colours as ‘washed out’ and find blues, greens and purples harder to differentiate.
“Colour preferences for individuals with dementia tend to be red, blue, and green,” she said. “For instance, blue is a restful colour with a calming effect. Research shows that using blue in the physical environment can lower blood pressure, and that blue rooms are seemingly cooler than rooms painted in shades of red or orange.
Blue is the colour
“Blue also appears to increase the size of the room and is a good choice for dinner plates and utensils as it produces a contrast with most foods because there aren’t many blue foods available.
She pointed out that red colours increase brain wave activity, and although seemingly decreasing the size of a room, increases the perceived temperature.
Green is symbolic of growth and life and is the most restful of colours.
“It reduces central nervous system activity and helps individuals remain calm,” said Di Pietro. “The human eye can see more shades of green than any other colour and therefore tones and contrast should be used carefully when oping for a green colour scheme. For example, a yellow-ish green should be avoided in dining rooms as it may mimic the effects of nausea, whereas a deep royal green may provoke more regal feelings associated with abundance and wealth.”
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