Accessibility and freedom of
movement are always core concerns for seniors who wish to age in place and do
so safely. But proper and sufficient lighting is necessary for unobstructed
access to all parts of the home. Research has shown that a 60-year-old needs three times more light than a 20-year-old in order to
see well enough to move around safely.
But what kind of lighting is needed,
where should it be installed, and what parts of the home should it illuminate
the most? There’s more to it than simply filling the entire space; a more
nuanced approach is required for an older adult to see well enough to age in
The sun is generally the best source
of lighting; it’s healthy and provides an abundant source of efficient light.
Your first decision should be to alter any window treatments that block the
flow of natural light. Remember that older adults benefit significantly from
exposure to natural light, which has a palpable effect on mood and one’s sense
Use artificial light consistently
Unfortunately, the sun alone can’t
provide a comprehensive solution. The less seniors have to adapt to different
kinds and levels of light, the less likely they are to have trouble seeing
where they’re going and spotting potential obstacles. Consistent lighting from
room to room is usually the best option, which is why smart lighting technology can be so helpful to older adults.
Programmable lighting is a convenient and safe way to ensure consistent light
transitions from room to room, and can be managed through a smartphone app.
Smart technology can also adjust
lighting automatically when it senses someone has entered or left a room. This
is an important consideration for the safety of seniors who, for example, may
have trouble getting to the bathroom at night and manipulating light controls on their own.
You’ll get the best and safest results by leaving it to a lighting professional to handle the installation and
upkeep of such technology, as well as any other electrical repairs.
Ambient lighting, which can be maximized with LED or compact fluorescent bulbs, should be emphasized in rooms
where it’s necessary to use fine motor skills, such as the kitchen or bathroom.
This form of lighting helps protect seniors from the glare of light that’s too bright, and makes it easier for their
eyes to differentiate between colors. Ambient lighting is also a softer, more
relaxed, and soothing form of light, which is important for seniors who may
suffer from anxiety or be in the early stages of dementia. Make sure that all
exposed bulbs are covered with shades to prevent glare.
Use LED bulbs in an older adult’s
bedroom, preferably with lighting that can be controlled automatically by
sensor. Install additional ones along darkened hallways at nighttime to prevent
falls. Even adding a lamp near the doorway or one controlled by a nearby wall
switch can help ensure safety.
Task-oriented lighting (glare-free light, preferably
ambient) should be installed above the stove and counter space. A light with a
hand-controlled dimmer switch should be placed above the kitchen or dining room table.
A discriminating use of light can
help a senior age in place safely and happily. Strategically installing
natural, ambient, and situational lighting can help an older adult safely
navigate darkened rooms and complete tasks, such as medication management and
food preparation. Proper lighting also provides a confidence boost by helping
seniors maintain self-reliance.
Courtesy of Pixabay.com.
Article by: Claire Wentz
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