The Science of Color

The Science of ColorHave you ever read about research surrounding how colors affect your mood in different ways? In case you haven’t, there is a ton of information online about colors and even how restaurants and stores use them to induce hunger or purchasing decisions.

Lets take this concept to the next level and connect it to your senior friends or family members in home health care or assisted living. Maybe you have never thought about this, but let’s consider how the colors in your loved one’s room, home, therapy room and wardrobe could be affecting their mood, treatment/therapy and motivation for recovery.

According to Rachel Grumman Bender’s article “How Color Affects Our Mood,” color influences us on multiple levels including social, cultural and even personal. “You also have learned certain associations with color, such as red making your heart race since it’s linked with fire trucks and ambulances (in other words, alarm) or yellow having positive association simply because it was the color of your beloved grandmother’s kitchen. (1)”

Furthermore, as you get older, you become more cognoscente of these associations, especially the learned associations from life experiences. With that said, lets briefly explore what each color means. (1)

Red – “Red is the hot, crazy girl of colors, evoking powerful emotions such as fear, anger and passion. 1” Red calls for attention, hence the higher automobile insurance premium, and passion. It is a bold look for a room. (1)

Blue – Blue is somewhat of a downer color – it lowers blood pressure and “conveys tranquility. 1” When it comes to clothing, it shows dependability and trustworthiness. (1)

Green – Green is commonly associated with nature, the great outdoors and the environment. It gives most people “a relaxed or refreshed mood… Green also looks good on every skin type and has a wide range of shades that allow you to modify your mood — from serious and sophisticated to fresh and bright. (1)”

Yellow – “Yellow carries both positive and negative connotations — from sunshine, which conveys a joyous, happy mood to jaundice and sickliness…1”

Orange – “This highly popular color marries the sunniness of yellow with red’s depth. In fact, orange is the perfect substitute if you’re not comfortable seeing red. (1)”

Black – “…the darkest shade of all can affect how you feel in two other distinctly different ways: Wearing black can be a downer (think funerals) or make you feel trés chic (think Audrey Hepburn in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”). (1)”

So, when considering your loved one and the shades in their home, assisted living facility, treatment/therapy center or revamped wardrobe, you will have to do some exploration. First, ask your loved one or geriatric care nurse if your loved one has any positive or negative connotations with specific colors. Try out different shades over time. Pay attention to your loved one’s attitude, motivation for treatment and therapy and mood. Consider the traits of the color above while exploring hues. If your loved one is not communicative, ask their geriatric care physician or therapy nurse who spends a lot of time with them during the day for house calls or care.

What colors work with your loved one in assisted living or geriatric care?

1Bender, R. (2013). How Color Affects Our Mood. Huffpost Health. Retrieved Jan. 27, 2015 from