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How colors impact dementia

Colors and Dementia: Yes, They Can Have an Impact!

Why do colors sometimes seem to make us feel happier or more depressed? Are colors really that powerful in their ability to alter our moods? In many ways, the answer is “yes”, in that different colors and hues are interpreted differently in our brains, some having a profound, yet subliminal impact in how we feel at any different moment.

For years researchers have been studying the effect of different colors on the brain and human behavior. A study by Margaret Calkins, published in the Journal of Dementia Care, takes a look at the impact of colors on individuals living with dementia. While Calkins acknowledges that there may be certain personal and cultural variances between color interpretation, here are some of her observations:

  • Blue:
    • Has a restful, calming effect
    • Often used in rooms where quiet is encouraged, such as bedrooms
    • Blues of a cooler hue can make a room appear larger
  • Green:
    • Evokes a sense of life and growth
    • Has the ability to lower activity of the central nervous system; creating a sense of calmness
    • As with blue, cooler greens can make a room appear larger
  • Red:
    • Stimulates brain activity and, in some cases, can release an increased amount of adrenalin into the bloodstream
    • Often recommended for use in areas where there is more activity, along with common areas
    • Red can increase the perception of higher temperature in the room
  • Orange:
    • Shares many of the same properties of red
    • As an earth-base color, however, it can produce an increased association with nature

Other organizations studying the impact of color on individuals with Alzheimer’s disease have characterized pink as having an uplifting effect, decreasing aggressive tendencies. Lime green is often used to increase visual attention. Some therapists have found that using blue in a room can actually lower blood pressure. Clearly color has the power to impact our feelings and emotional interpretation of the environment around us.

At Anthem Memory Care communities, we take the emotional impact of color seriously. We not only use color it in creative ways to optimize the environment, but also use contrasting colors to help our residents stay mobile and independent as long as possible.