As our eyes age, we begin seeing colors with more of a yellow cast. This is much like a newspaper yellowing over time. Our eyes see less clearly and we need more light to see things clearly. The muscles are not as strong in the eyes as they were in our early twenties.
I have been working on my Color Consultant Certification this summer and I have learned so much about color and the science of color. I have done color testing on my whole family and, as is predictable in my family, no one likes same range of colors. Upon further questioning, I found out that my parents are on opposite ends of the color spectrum. So, you ask, what does this have to do with anything? Let me tell you- the colors my parents are seeing are not the colors that I am seeing and the colors that I see, are not the colors that my daughter sees. In choosing colors for your home or helping your clients choose color, keep this in mind.
What may appear red to one person could be very different from what the other person is seeing. Don’t assume that because a certain color is “in” is the best color for the person you are designing for. In general, warm colors are preferred by more people so if you are trying to design for say, a spec. home or staging to sell, stick with the warmer colors.
Another important thing to remember is the need for more light as we age. The eye requires more light to see things clearly. According to a report by Robert G. Davis titled, “Task Lighting for the Elderly: Providing a Foundation for Product Development” (6/2000), some recommendations for lighting for the Aging in Place Group include installing dimmer switches to reduce glare and allow adjustable lighting for the situation and tasks, spread lighting evenly throughout the room and prevent contrast in area lighting because it is harder for the eye to compensate. Another design suggestion is not to use glossy/shiny surfaces. A matte surface doesn’t cause the reflection that the glossy/shiny surfaces do and it is harder for the older eye to see clearly. Another thing mentioned in the report was that dark backgrounds are easier for the older eye to read against with bright task lighting. White or light backgrounds reflect light and make it harder for the older eye to see.
By incorporating dimmer switches, installing brighter light bulbs and eliminating light and dark areas, those who are Aging In Place can continue to enjoy their space and not be limited by their surroundings. Yellowed colors need not be a detriment in the aging process, after all, your yellow may not be the same as my yellow. Take care and if you have any questions or comments, please contact me.