Seniors and Elders, Make it Colorful and Enjoyable:New Ways to Get Help Moving Up, Out, Beyond

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Last year was a big year for my mom. Making the decision to move to Los Angeles from her lifelong home in Minneapolis was not easy, but once she did, she did it with her typical commitment to a project.

Granted, this is not my usual kind of subject but I wanted to touch on it anyway.  After all…it’s this type of life change that make you reflect on future development and how it’s a quite a mystery that we can only “plan” for to a relatively limited extent.

The reason I wanted to bring this up is that she had a lot of help from a friend and “moving-on-professional.”  I don’t know what we would have done without Laure Green, a Minneapolis real estate professional who also has a compatible business in helping elders with exactly this type of transition. From identifying attachments and being able to “let go” of them–right down to the last minute managing the movers. My mom—and we, her family— were so lucky to have Laure’s help.

moving in or out

Moving in, or moving out? This room needs color!

Emotion Rules…for better or worse!
More recently, and locally to us here in Massachusetts, Lisbeth Wiley Chapman has started a new “move management” company on Cape Cod. She’s named it “Extra Daughters,” and the name really fits the service.

Beth’s description of what is involved includes emotion as playing a major role in the moving process:
“It’s all about emotion. Downsizing and de-cluttering means making decisions. Rather than making them, we have spent years stashing stuff higher and deeper. We save too much and get emotionally bogged down in life’s leftovers that we will never use and have tenuous reasons for keeping.”

Beth’s Top Ten Tips
Check out Beth’s Top Ten Tips for Moving.

Between the two of them, Laure and Beth have a world of experience. Laure, from the Real Estate side—and Beth, having moved her own full household eighteen times before coming to Cape Cod nearly 12 years ago—has an unusual depth of  experiences to combine with her organized, focused approach to everything she does. Beth has settled five estates and worked for an antique/collectibles dealer.  Recently, she was the program director for Seashore Point, the only outer Cape continuing care retirement community.

Make the transition one that is joyous, radiant and full of positive energy!
Since this is, after all, IntegralColorViews, I can easily make the color connection:
Change a gray, depressing and overwhelmed feeling and experience to one that is brightly glowing with yellows, oranges, and luminous blues! As we age, our color needs change.

multicultural kids
Kids can see more clearly than adults! Our color vision changes as we age.

As always, environmental color is, in itself, an absorbing  and expansive subject.  It’s not unusual for designers of elder housing to create spaces with only the family members in mind. But it’s the people who live there who count the most!

A few the reasons to give color the serious consideration that people deserve

  • Emotional comfort
  • Physical comfort
  • Wayfinding
  • Safety in the home

Even if there is not a move planned at this time, you can always revive a current home to make it more appropriate for elder residents.
For now, I offer a few considerations, and tips for selecting colors as we age:

  1. Hue: Many hues can work, but consider that we see more yellow as we age.
  2. Pattern: larger patterns are sometimes easier to “read” but don’t overwhelm the viewer with visual information
  3. Contrast: regardless of our age, higher contrast makes important items more identifiable
  4. Sheen: high sheen creates reflection and can add confusion
  5. Intensity: use colors that are moderate but not boring. Consider contrast, intensity, sheen.
  6. Lighting: a critical piece! Consider lighting closer to daylight, rather than yellow-based lighting color. Consult an experienced lighting designer for this all-important part of the environment you want to create
  7. In all cases, the balance between these elements is key.  Too subtly neutral is “boring” and can create anxiety, and too much color and pattern can create confusion when not used judiciously.

I look forward to addressing these details more specifically in a future article. Meanwhile, I’d love to hear your experiences in this area.

7 Responses to “Seniors and Elders, Make it Colorful and Enjoyable:New Ways to Get Help Moving Up, Out, Beyond”

  1. Marcia

    There is need for this specialty! I too have had a couple of projects of downsizing & simplifying life for two elderly gentlemen. It’s a matter of choosing the furniture & accessory pieces that will go with them (and figuring out the new, organized, and well-accessorized space plan) – and what’s left behind is the various categories of inheritance, donation, and total trash.
    I agree good lighting, safety, and a fresh use of color are all especially important.

  2. Diane Stewart

    My mom lived with us for three years,and she stayed in a pale green room with large windows that looked outside onto nature. I even planted things in the yard that lined up with the windows since she rarely went outside. It’s very important for elderly people to have beauty in their lives. They have to deal with loss and grief, and nature provides signs that life goes on in a never-ending renewal.

    • bjacobs

      You are so right, Diane, about nature sending the message of renewal. Even on an unconscious level it makes a difference. If we notice it in a more intentional way, it’s even better. Thanks for your contribution.

  3. Sharon Stephenson

    Laure is a realtor AND personal friend. She takes her work seriously when it comes to packing up and moving on. I would highly recommend her.

  4. Linda Fake

    When designing bedrooms, I tend to put any large scale patterns on the headboard wall so that when someone awakens in the middle of the night, the pattern doesn’t confuse or frighten them. This design concept works well in children’s room, hotel & hospital rooms, you name it.


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