As we age, we notice deterioration in our physical abilities. We make adjustments to our lives to adapt, with many solutions resolved through interior design and detailing specific to the needs of older adults transitioning from independent living to assisted living environments.
One of the earliest signs- and often the most unaddressed within interiors- is vision loss, or the “aging eye”. Good research is essential to differentiate how older occupants see both colour and lighting within their interior environments.
Cells in the retina, which respond to normal colour vision, decline in sensitivity while we age. Colours become less bright and contrasts less noticeable. Blue shades in particular lose their intensity and appear faded.
To balance and counteract any appearance of colour degradation, Seniors environments are designed with a higher saturation of colour and differentiation of contrasts between surface elements, such as a floor and a countertop. Simple use of colour and contrast can aid the eye in judging distance and navigating more effectively, which assist mobility and direction finding.
Muscles that control the pupil – its size and reaction to light – also lose strength as we age. Those in their 60’s need three times more ambient light for reading than they did in their 20’s. Colour also assists in this regard, as brighter shades return more wavelength activity than muted shades.
Although the eye requires more light for detail as we age, older eyes are also more sensitive to glare. Avoiding glossy surfaces and light control devices, such as perforated blinds and dimmer switches are simple solutions that make a difference.
As we expand our Interior Design portfolio specific to Seniors and wellness environments, our designers provide subtle, but essential design details that meet the needs of the aging eye, while creating a comfortable, safe and stylish environment, in concert with the current trends for senior living.
The following are elements considered within our design development for Senior living:
- A warmer colour palette. With age, the lens yellows and alters colour perception, causing some blues and greens to appear grey. Warm, highly saturated colours are the easiest to see.
- Accent Contrasts. Adults over 40 gradually lose depth perception. Maintaining distinct contrasts is key, especially when navigating stairs and differentiating furniture/countertops from flooring.
- Increased light around stairs, within Kitchens and Bathrooms or any high-risk areas.
- Minimized glare with a good light diffusing window blind or drapery; avoid glossy and polished surfaces in favour of matte.
- Dimmers as light can be controlled to provide the right level of lighting every time.
Regardless of age, optimum lighting choices and timeless design details create a healthy environment while improving usability and productivity within your current home. Within our Senior living communities, these subtle design considerations can make all of the difference.
Margo Smith RID IDC IIDA NCIDQ