Aging in Place, Interior Design and Decorating, Senior Safety

Aging in Place, Aging Eyes and Color Choices

Elsie and JohnElsie and John are seniors who have chosen to age in place.  Their kids are trying to help and have decided they should paint the walls in their parents home. Elsie and John would like to go with something light and warm but not too warm. The kids think they should go with something trendy and edgy. They keep seeing dark, shiny walls in all the spec homes they tour and think that is what their parents should do to stay up with the times. What should Elsie and John do?

They should stick with their gut instincts and go with lighter colors that are warm but not too yellow. Why is that? Because as we age, our eyes see color differently, we see less clearly and we need more light. The muscles in our eyes become weaker as we age. Our eyes begin to change starting in our forties and not necessarily for the better.  Maybe you can relate?  Are your arms getting too short for reading?

What may seem red to you could be very different from what the person next to you is seeing. Don’t assume that because a certain color is “in” it is the best color for your space. Older eyes may see colors that have more of a yellow cast to them much like aging newspapers get turn yellow. Keep this in mind when choosing any colors.  00427796

Another important thing to remember is the need for more light as we age. The eye requires more light to see things clearly. Choose to spread lighting evenly throughout the room.  Glare is very hard on aging eyes so cut down on very shiny surfaces.  Prevent contrast in area lighting because it is harder for the eye to adjust if there are light and dark areas.  It is a lot like walking into a brightly lit room after being in a pitch black room.  It takes your eyes a long while to adjust and in the meantime, accidents may occur.  You can read more about lighting in the article, “Lighting For Life.”

How color may appear to the younger eye.How colors may an older eye.

Ever notice how, as we age, we tend to run a little colder too?  Choosing a warmer color is a good choice. Visually, your eyes will signal to the mind that the space is warmer. Not sure what the warmer colors are? Think about the colors of the sun and heat like yellows, oranges, and reds to know what are warm colors. Use these colors sparingly in your choices though because too much will be overwhelming: remember aging eyes see things darker.  If you are trying to choose a color, take color samples home and place them in the location where you are thinking of painting that color. What you see in the showroom or paint department will probably not look the same as your home.

Yellowed colors need not be a detriment in the aging process, after all, your yellow and my yellow may not be the same.  Choose wisely with thoughts to your future too.


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