How Color Therapy Can Help Dementia
For many, color therapy (or chromotherapy) is a bit of a mystery. And in many ways, it’s still in its infancy — but the limited discoveries researchers have made indicate that the ways we connect with, and respond to color are incredibly unique.
Have you ever sat in a room that just felt drab? Or sad, even? Maybe it was painted a lifeless gray that made the room feel cold and unforgiving — like it would drain all your energy and motivation if you sat there for too long.
Surprisingly, this isn’t uncommon. Things like this happen all the time.
That’s because our relationship with color is powerful and can be used to manipulate mood, influence our decisions, and even trigger specific physiological reactions: blood pressure rises, metabolism slows, and visual perception becomes skewed. Colors can even raise and lower body temperature.
Psychological effects vary, too. Some colors can spark anger or make us irritable, while others can calm the mind or even make us feel … well, blue. Marketers are particularly fascinated by this concept and use their knowledge of psychology to subtly control their consumers and predict buying patterns.
Of course, feelings about color are often subjective, but that doesn’t change the fact that color is a powerful force in all our lives.
How do we know all this? Because researchers have been studying the effect of different colors on the brain and human behavior for years.
One study, in particular, analyzed how colors for therapy impact older adults living with dementia. Here’s a look at some findings — results that seem to align with our beliefs about color based on our own observable experiences.
Blue: Tranquility and Creativity
- Blue is one of the most universally loved shades in the spectrum of colors. Its calming effects produce melatonin, making this a standard color in bedrooms and other quiet areas — particularly in homes or facilities for dementia patients.
Green: Generosity and Relaxation
- Some experts say green is the last color older adults lose the ability to see, so that may be why so many people living with dementia find it so calming. It’s also easy on the eyes, making rooms appear larger.
Red: Strength and Vitality
- This color often sparks strong emotions, so it’s best used to stimulate brain activity and produce adrenaline. In some instances, it might help increase the appetites of older adults who struggle with food.
Orange: Sociability and Happiness
- As an earth-based color, many associate orange with nature and the outdoors. But researchers have found this color may boost creativity and enthusiasm.
As you can see, color undeniably influences our emotions, no matter how fleeting, and that — in turn — encourages specific responses.
That’s why color therapy can be so beneficial for families who want their loved ones to remain healthy and happy as their memory functions decline. Though definitive research is sparse, and the reasons color is so therapeutic remain elusive, many studies have shown just how effective color therapy can be in promoting elderly health.
Color Therapy Benefits
It Provides Safety and Security
For older adults living with Alzheimer’s or dementia, safety is critical. And it’s not just about physical safety — we’re also talking about psychological safety. White is particularly soothing and can help ease fears and anxieties, fostering a greater sense of balance.
It Calms and Comforts
As their memory fades, older adults often experience low-grade to severe anxiety. There’s a lot you can do to make your loved one feel more secure, but color therapy is an option that requires very little effort. Try introducing more blues and greens into their daily lives and living space. They just might help calm their restless mind, so they get the rest and relaxation they need.
It Alleviates Depression
As people age, they often find themselves frustrated with their situation, experiencing feelings of isolation and loneliness. The result is often a depression that’s difficult to manage. The feeling might escalate if they feel like they’re trapped in rooms with dark, oppressive colors. For these folks, a splash of yellow in the room where they spend the most time can help.
It Boosts Energy and Increases Appetite
It’s natural for older adults with dementia to experience a decreased appetite. It’s caused by certain health conditions and medications that alter the perception of taste. But there’s a psychology behind color and how we associate certain hues with feelings of hunger. Colors like red and orange trigger our brains in ways that cause the heart to beat a little faster, which can increase energy and appetite.
Color Therapy at The Moments
At The Moments, we specialize in color therapy techniques. We understand that color helps us communicate, share information, and even influence the decisions people make. And while there’s still a lot we don’t know about color therapy, we do know that it’s safe for seniors to try, and the psychological impact of color and lighting within our facilities isn’t something we take for granted.
Want to learn more about what we can do to help improve your loved one’s quality of life?
Contact us today for more information, or schedule a visit.