Home Lighting for Safe Aging in Place for Seniors
According to the AARP, a whopping 87 percent of seniors want to stay in their current home and community in order to age in place. While aging in place is not an option for people with serious medical conditions that require long-term care, for many healthy seniors, it’s a plausible reality.
However, aging in place does come with some risks. Homes that are not modified for accessibility can be dangerous for seniors to get around. While there are many accessibility modifications to consider, one aspect many people forget about is lighting. Without enough light in the home, the low visibility can lead to accidents and falls.
As we age, our eyesight becomes worse. In fact, according to the National Eye Institute, 6.5 million Americans over age 65 have a severe visual impairment. Health problems that cause low vision include age-related macular degeneration, cataracts, diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, presbyopia, floaters, dry eyes, and tearing.
Seniors need at least three times more light than the average 20-year-old. Aging eyes are also less able to adjust to sudden changes in brightness and intensity. Because of this, lighting needs to be consistent from room to room without harsh changes in brightness. Make sure darker areas have enough light to match other areas of the house to help prevent falls.
Living Room Lighting
The living room is one of the areas of the home with the most traffic, so it stands to reason that lighting should be plentiful. To improve living room lighting, layer your sources. There are three basic forms of non-natural lighting: ceiling lights, floor lights, and table lights. By using all three, you make sure the living room is properly illuminated when it needs it the most, but you can also dial down the brightness if it’s a sunny day and there is a lot of natural light available. Make sure there is a lamp near spots where there is a lot of activity. For instance, a reading light is helpful when placed on a table next to the seat you use the most.
Kitchens often have a lot of natural light, but seniors would do well to avoid putting shades over any windows. Shades made out of fabric, canvas, or linen are high maintenance and need to be cleaned regularly. Rather than adding that chore to the household, look for low maintenance window treatments like honeycomb shades that can be treated to repel dust. Another great idea for kitchen lighting is task lighting. Try installing LED light strips under and inside cabinets to improve visibility and make it easy for seniors to find what they want in the kitchen.
Believe it or not, the bathroom is considered the most dangerous room in the house — especially for seniors who are at risk for falls. Providing adequate lighting in the bathroom can help prevent accidents while making it easier for seniors to get ready. Having plenty of natural light in the bathroom is great, try and include as much as possible. It’s also a great idea to add more LED light strips to the cabinets for task lighting like the kind recommended for the kitchen. Considering seniors often have to get up in the middle of the night and trek to the bathroom, consider hooking up all lights to a motion detector that will turn them on when a person enters.
There are many home modifications that help make a house safe for aging-in-place. As we age, our eyesight deteriorates and we need more light to function. Adding light throughout the house contributes to its overall accessibility. Make sure light is constant throughout the house and add extra in dark hallways and staircases where there is a greater risk for falls. Layer light in each room with a combination of natural lighting, floor lighting, table lighting, and overhead lighting. And in utility rooms like the kitchen and bathroom, install LED light strips under and inside of cabinets to make it easier for seniors to find what they need.
Contributed by Mike Longsdon www.elderfreedom.net
For Barbara Michaluk / Weichert Realtors / Authorized Leisure World Specialist 240-506-2434
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