How to Utilize Paint Colors in Dementia Care Communities

Paint colors can do a lot for residents and staff in dementia care communities. From the ambiance to functional use, paint can make them a happier and safer place.


Painting exit doors the same color as the adjacent walls can help avoid elopement. If the door is subtle and not a focal point, residents may look past it and not even realize it is there. However, you must still abide by state codes for exits like keeping the push bar visible and having an exit light above the door.

Using a saturated color in restrooms behind the toilet and on the adjacent wall can help call attention to the white toilet and sink, and make them stand out from the rest of the room.

Painting walls in common areas a contrasting color from the flooring helps residents discern where the horizontal and vertical planes of a room meet and helps with spatial orientation.

Color-coding can help orientation within a building. This can be as obvious as painting entire corridors floor to ceiling, or as subtle as accent walls or resident room door insets. I’ve even found myself using these colors to remind myself where I’m at in a community!



Bright colors elicit energy and excitement, so they are great to use in rooms where activities and exercise are conducted. Just be sure to use contrasting bright colors. Colors with similar saturations will not be as dynamic.


Warm hues (think earth tones) are great for lounge spaces, and areas where you want residents to settle in and feel comfortable.


Calming hues like blues, lavenders, and greens are great for areas where you want residents to relax. These colors are great for spas, restrooms, and quiet activity areas in the community.

Rachael: These are great ideas! I hadn’t even thought about the door paint color in terms of preventing elopement. I have usually taken to covering the exit door with a door decal, but painting it the same color as the surrounding walls would be a great way to accomplish the same task.