Countless studies have shown that the majority of older adults want to age in place in the comfort and dignity of home — and it’s important to make sure their spaces are ready to keep up! For older adults planning to age in place, proper lighting is one of the most important home safety features to keep in mind.
The Importance of Proper Lighting for the Elderly
Most of us tend to take the lights around our home for granted. We switch them on or off, and go about our business. For older adults, however, proper lighting is one of the most essential keys to a safe living environment.
Just why is lighting so important? According to research, about one in three elderly adults has “some form of vision-reducing eye disease by the age of 65,” ranging from macular degeneration, to cataracts, to complications from diabetes. Vision problems can make it much more difficult to safely and confidently perform routine activities of daily living (ADLs). This can make older adults feel like they’re losing their independence, which can in turn contribute to feelings of depression or anxiety.
At the same time, an underlit home can increase the probability of suffering a major fall. Studies show that older adults are involved in more than 2 million at-home accidents every year; nearly a third of all older adults suffer a fall every year, with 70% of those accidents happening at home.
Five Ideas for Senior-Friendly Lighting
As a family caregiver, one important step to make your elderly loved one’s home safe, secure, and accessible is to improve the lighting. From the kitchen to the bathroom, it’s important that a senior’s living space is equipped with bright, clear lights — and lots of accessible options for turning them on and off.
Curious about what you can do to help? Here are five important lighting tips for seniors and caregivers:
1.) Add “Cooler” Lights Around the Home
As the home information site The Spruce explains, “aging eyes tend to have yellowing lenses, and thus the ability to see in the cool range is diminished.”
As a result, it may help to focus on installing “cooler” lights as a way to supplement the senior’s natural vision, including light-colored halogen and fluorescent bulbs. Warmer tones and more conventional lights, such as incandescent bulbs, have more of a yellow or red hue, and often feel darker, while cooler light is “perceived as brighter.”
Of course, bright, cool lights can feel harsh, especially at night. To counterbalance this jarring effect, consider installing dimmer switches, so you can adjust the level of light as the day goes on. As The Spruce puts it:
“Light indoor spaces with natural and artificial light for bright cool light for mornings and daytime and warm dimmer light for evenings. This configuration will help to aid the natural human circadian rhythm.”
2.) Use Task Lighting
Task lighting refers to specialized, focused lighting that makes it easier to perform certain activities — and it’s a must-have for older adults.
For example, if your loved one is a devoted reader, make sure they have a reading light positioned strategically over their favorite chair or next to their bed. There are also portable book lights that can be used specifically to help you focus on the pages of a book.
If your loved one works from their desk, work lamps can help provide the illumination they need to avoid eye strain. Similarly, adding task lighting in the kitchen can make it easier and safer for seniors to prepare their favorite meals.
3.) Make Sure Light Controls Are Accessible and Easy to Use
How accessible are the light switches around your elderly loved one’s home? Take a pass throughout each room, to make sure that all light switches are free from obstructions and placed within easy reach. You don’t want your elderly loved one to have to stretch and strain, just to turn on a light!
In addition, consider upgrades and senior-friendly features that can make adjusting the lights easier for older adults with limited mobility. For example, you can retrofit many lights with controls that let you turn them on and off with a clap, or even the sound of your voice. Consider motion-activated lights in important areas, such as the front entryway or the primary bathroom.
Many lamps can also be adjusted by remote control; other styles make it easy to turn the light on or off with a simple touch, rather than needing to reach for a switch. Both of these options can be useful in the bedroom, so the senior can adjust the light without having to get out of bed.
4.) Make Use of Night Lights
Night lights can be an incredibly useful addition to an older adult’s home. Consider adding them to the hallway, or in the bathroom, so your loved one has an illuminated path to use the restroom late at night or early in the morning.
When installing night lights, try to use wireless lights whenever possible. This helps minimize the tripping hazard caused by exposed cords and cables.
5.) Regularly Check to Make Sure Everything Is Functioning Properly
Don’t get stuck in the dark! Be sure to regularly take steps to make sure all of the lighting elements around the home are functioning properly. Regularly check to make sure the bulbs are still working, and consider using long-lasting, energy efficient models. Take note of when you add a new bulb, and when you might expect to have to change it. Similarly, be sure to regularly check the batteries in your remotes, handheld devices, and task lighting systems. Finally, remember that a dusty bulb is a dim bulb. Make dusting and wiping down your lighting fixtures a regular part of your cleaning routine.
Does Your Elderly Loved One Need a Helping Hand Around the House?
One of the best ways to make sure your elderly loved one is able to safely enjoy the freedom of flexibility of aging in place is to give them a little bit of extra support at home.
Non-medical home care — also known as companion care or respite care — can help give your loved one the support they need to live life to the fullest, while giving the busy family caregivers in your life a well-deserved chance to rest and recharge.
Available on a flexible schedule that suits your loved one’s needs, a companion can provide hands-on assistance with ADLs — from lending a supportive arm to seniors as they sit or stand, to assisting with personal matters like using the restroom, bathing and dressing. A companion can also provide assistance with housekeeping, laundry, and meal preparation, to help minimize common risks to seniors while still encouraging their independence.
Live In Chicago or the Suburbs? Companions for Seniors Is Here for You
Ready to talk over ideas for making your elderly loved one’s home safer and more accommodating? Curious about what it takes to get started with home care? We are always here and ready to keep the conversation going!
At Companions for Seniors, our mission is to help seniors live independently and with dignity at home by empowering them to lead an active and enriched lifestyle, connecting them with their community, and nurturing meaningful relationships.
Our companions are trained and bonded, and can help provide a variety of services designed to help seniors age in place comfortably and safely, without having to uproot their lives and move into expensive and restrictive institutionalized care facilities.
We will work with your family to develop a personalized care plan specifically tailored for your loved one’s needs, and your own hopes and goals as a family caregiver. We believe in fostering an open dialogue and sharing ideas; always going the extra mile with our services; and providing flexible care at the right price for every household.
We are based in Chicago, with service available in the city and suburbs. Our companions are available on a full- and part-time basis, and can offer assistance with grooming, bathing, running errands, attending appointments, cooking meals, doing housework, and so much more.
Have any more questions? Interested in seeing what sets our home care services apart? Give us a call at 866-910-9020, or get in touch online using our contact form, available here.