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Alzheimer's Services of the Capital Area is offering online session June 15-19 to help those who take care of people with Alzheimer's or other memory-related impairments.

Many studies have been conducted on color and light with many contrasting results. However, for the most part, the use of various colors, particularly in the environment for those living with dementia, can be helpful in providing quality of care. Color preferences for individuals with dementia are red, blue and green.

For instance, blue is a restful color with a calming effect. Research shows that using blue in the physical environment can actually lower blood pressure, and that blue rooms are seemingly cooler than rooms painted in shades of red or orange. Blue also appears to increase the size of the room, and blue is a good choice for dinner plates and utensils as it produces a contrast of food.

Red increases brain wave activity, seems to decrease the size of a room, and increases the perceived temperature of the room. If you want to get the attention of an individual with Alzheimer's or dementia, use red. It also is a good color for dinner plates and utensils as it offers good contrast with food and stimulates the appetite.

Green is symbolic of growth and life and is the most restful of colors. It reduces central nervous system activity, and helps individuals remain calm. Using green makes rooms appear larger. Particularly, lime green is effective with individuals with Alzheimer's or dementia for visual attention, i.e., visual cues for bathrooms, bedrooms, walkers, etc.

For the affected individual who may have aggressive tendencies, try using pink in their personal space as it tends to ease aggression.

The use of contrast is extremely important for marking edges of things, drawing attention to furniture or other tripping hazards and making it easier to locate food on the plate or find the toilet seat in a white on white bathroom. Contrast can be used to help define objects more clearly. Using a color that contrasts with the background draws attention to key features. For example, use a contrasting wall color so that it can be easier to locate switches and sockets, railings and handrails. Doors of the bathroom can be painted a different color than other rooms in the house for easier identification. Using a contrasting color in the kitchen to highlight edges of cabinets helps affected individuals locate themselves within their surroundings and reduces accidental injuries from edges.

In addition to the environment, look at other ways using color for the affected individual. Incorporate color in the individual's wardrobe, using his/her favorite colors. Reports show that individuals feel happier when wearing colors such as coral, peach and variations of orange.

Bear in mind that due to natural thickening of the lens of the eye with age, older people may experience colors as ‘washed out’ and find blues, greens and purples harder to differentiate. Additionally, color preferences can change, and the person with dementia experiences increasing sensitivity to all things, so it is necessary to create a balance throughout the journey of the disease.


Questions about Alzheimer's disease or a related disorder can be sent to Dana Territo, the Memory Whisperer, director of services at Alzheimer's Services of the Capital Area at advice@alzbr.org or visit the the organization at 3772 North Blvd., Baton Rouge.