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Color Therapy for Your Assisted Living Apartment

Sarah Stevenson
By Sarah StevensonJanuary 21, 2015

Choosing the right colors for our home environment can affect our moods, feelings and overall well-being. Read more about how color therapy can help you redecorate — and rejuvenate.

The beginning of a new year is prime time for seniors to move into assisted living — and it’s also a time when many of us decide to make changes in our day-to-day lives, from de-cluttering to redecorating. If you or a loved one is making the move to an assisted living apartment, or even if you’re just planning some much-needed updates to your current home environment, one of the most basic design considerations is color. Color choices in the home can express our personalities and preferences, of course. Beyond that, color can also affect our mental, emotional, and physical well-being.

What Is Color Therapy?

On its most basic level, color therapy — also referred to as chromotherapy — is the use of color for therapeutic purposes.


The effects of color have been studied in a wide range of disciplines, from physics and optics to psychology and metaphysics. In scientific terms, the exact therapeutic effects of color are still up for debate, but it is clear that the use of different colors in our environment can influence mood, perception and even physical sensations.

How Different Colors Affect Our Emotional Health

Moods and perceptions come and go, but they may have profound effects on our overall sense of emotional balance in the long run. Color, with its subtle influence on our moods and feelings, can play a potentially complex and powerful role in this process. Different hues are intimately associated with individual feelings and memories, and thus we might choose to paint the living room or kitchen in a more vibrant, energizing color than the bedroom, for example. Interior designers such as Sunrise Senior Living consultant Emily Henderson, make use of these associations, as well as personal color preferences, to choose hues and even entire color palettes to suit each individual.According to interior designer Charlotte Brown and other advocates for the healing influence of color: specific colors can sometimes evoke relatively universal emotions, and might potentially confer health benefits unique to each hue. There may also be some scientific basis for this; studies have shown that pink-painted walls induce calm in residents of jails and detention centers, and full-spectrum light treatments are a proven remedy for certain types of seasonal depression. On a purely subjective level, colors can cheer us up, make us relaxed, or even induce headaches — something we all want to keep in mind when redecorating.Here are a few examples of particularly stimulating colors and the reactions they are said to induce:

  1. Red is said to be a stimulating, vital color, associated with strength, willpower, alertness and even libido. Color therapists use it to treat fatigue, anemia, low blood pressure and poor appetite.
  2. Yellow is thought to be good for clear thinking, concentration and judgment. Many people associate yellow with cheer and joy, and color therapists view it as a cleansing, purifying color, beneficial for the digestive system and nervous system.
  3. Green is a calming, relaxing and balancing color, not surprising since it is so prevalent in the natural world. It is said to soothe the nervous system, lower blood pressure, and balance metabolism.
  4. Blue is another peaceful, calming color, associated with creativity, thoughtfulness and healing. It can help with stress and insomnia, say color therapists, as well as encouraging anti-inflammation.
  5. White is one of the most common colors to paint our walls, but it also is said to be cleansing, purifying and strengthening, as well as calming.

Color Therapy Tips for Assisted Living

Orange and gray bedroom by Brian Patrick Flynn, HGTV.

It can be fun to try to come up with creative ways to use color in your environment, turning your assisted living apartment into a welcoming haven that promotes positive feelings and moods. Of course, we don’t always want to come right out and paint the walls bright orange. Consider these tips and ideas when planning your new decorative scheme:

  1. If you have a favorite color, consider making that the central hue in your overall color scheme or palette, incorporating different shades of that color for variety, or contrasting that color with its complement. Check out an online color palette generator like the ones on Design Seeds or Sherwin-Williams for ideas.
  2. Choose colors you associate with calm and relaxation for the bedroom, and colors that make you feel lively for rooms you want to be energetic in, such as the kitchen or study.
  3. If you just want a dash of color, or are worried that a color might be too bright for an entire wall in a small space like an apartment, try adding accessories in that hue, such as cushions, artwork or furniture.
  4. Don’t forget eyesight considerations. According to Emily Henderson, “As vision weakens, warmer colors are easier to see than cooler colors.” Warm colors are those closer to the red end of the spectrum: red, orange and yellow. Cool colors are those at the opposite end: green, blue and purple. Neutral tones like beige and brown can be either warmer or cooler.
  5. Henderson also advises using contrasting colors, which make the boundaries between objects easier to distinguish. For those with poor eyesight, injuries and falls can be avoided by making the walls and floor distinctly different colors.

Of course, the most important design consideration of all is making sure the apartment feels like you and feels like home. Color can go a long way toward making that happen.

If you’ve used color therapy ideas in decorating your home or assisted living apartment, we want to hear about it! Share your experiences with us in the comments below.   

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Sarah Stevenson
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Sarah Stevenson
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