Color and Aging

Whether it's trying to read a recipe or looking for a pair of earrings, the older I get, the harder it is for me to see. I've recently learned that perception ofcolor and aging are inextricably linked. As we all know, vision changes quite a bit as we age. Apparently even our perception of color can change. Some age-related diseases cause cloudy or blurred vision, blues and greens can begin to look grey or black, and for some unfortunate people everything just has a yellowish hue. As a color expert I was curious to learn more about this phenomenon so of course, I took a class. I'll spare you the medical jargon and just give you the potential problems and a decorating solution that you can use (for your parents, of course!)

As we age, the difference between an object and its background becomes more difficult to distinguish if they are of similar hues. It becomes very difficult to discriminate among pale colors and neutral palettes. Plan your décor with more contrast.   For example consider painting the headboard wall an accent color to clearly distinguish the bed.Doors and frames can also be painted a contrasting color.




 In the hallway, add a chair rail and a contrasting color to ease navigation.

Bathrooms can be hazardous enough with all the edges and tiles, but an all-white or neutral bathroom, although a clean look is just not practical for the elderly. It's too difficult to distinguish between a white toilet and white tiled wall. And that shiny floor?  A real slip hazard.

Using a bright color on the walls will not only liven up the space, but also enhance safety. And make sure you have non- skid rugs in a darker color as well.


Dementia sufferers eventually lose the ability to judge depth correctly. Contrasting colors provide a means to differentiate between one level and another or a door from a wall.   While color can be used to ease navigation, you might also consider using color to hide or camouflage features. For Alzheimer patients, consider painting interior doors a contrast color and exterior doors the same color as the walls so they don't accidently wander outside when they thought they were going to the john.

Shiny floors, reflective countertops and glossy wall finishes can produce enough shine and glare to be almost blinding to the elderly.   Flat, matte or eggshell finishes on the wall are more suitable. When specifying countertops, consider a honed surface and avoid polished tile floors, as they are both shiny and slippery.

Polished vs. honed granite

Aging in place - staying in one's home and remaining independent as long as possible, is preferred by the baby boom generation.  Struggling with diminished vision might be an issue, but I've outlined some simple and cost-effective solutions.

Please Contact Me if you'd like more information on this, or any other decorating topic.