Color Preferences in the
Elderly


It is possible to notice changes in the color perception and preferences of people as they get older. Moreover, deterioration in vision and health problems could also be experienced with advancing age. Vision deteriorates in the natural aging process. Impairment is not only related to the optics, reactions to darkness and brightness are also affected and altered. The light transmitting and sight capability of the eye’s natural lens is impaired as a person ages. This leads to an increase in yellowing and distortion in the distribution of light that reduces the quality of sight during the day and weakens night vision.

In a study conducted by Mather, Stare, and Brenin (1971) the color preferences of the elderly patients were blue, red/green and yellow respectively. The preference for the color blue has also been determined in a study conducted on 80-year-olds by Wijk, Berg, Sivik, and Steen (1999). Red/green color choice ranked first in another study conducted by Dittmar (2001).

Cool colors like shades of blue and blue-greens have a calming effect that comforts and gives people peace. However, cool colors must be used in a balance so that they do not give rise to coolness of emotions. Peaceful environments can be created when blue is combined with neutral colors, shades of beige and warm wooden effects. The use of these colors in nursing homes would render inhabitants peaceful and make them feel at home. Bright yellows, reds and intense colors that could cause disquiet, anxiety and tiredness of the eye must be avoided in spaces designed for the elderly.