Older people tend to perceive colours in a muted way. Saturated colours should be favoured over pastel colours. Vivid colours provide orientation, e.g. on corridors. Doors leading to private living spaces should be coded in bright colours – where possible designed in relation to the resident in question – to promote recognition. Doors to staff rooms, however, should be fashioned using inconspicuous colours that match the walls in order to not attract the residents’ attention.
Yet, pronounced colour contrasts can also confuse older people. Elderly people, and not only those with walking impairments, tend to look predominantly downwards for fear of falling. Strongly coloured patterns (colour contrasts) on floors, e.g. mosaics or multi-coloured tiles, can simulate obstacles and cause insecurity. The same applies to strongly grained wood, which simulates soiling. On staircases colour contrasts can improve attention and safety, e.g. at landings or single steps. Glossy floors should be avoided both due to disturbing reflections – from windows and doors – and slip hazards.