Tips to Age In Place Safe and Sound
More and more seniors are choosing to live out their retirement at home. And technology has made that easier than ever before. But seniors are still at an elevated risk of injury, even at home. HomeAdvisor reports that one-third of people age 65 years and older will experience a fall at home. At this age, falls can be fatal. While there’s no way to prevent 100 percent of accidents, there is one simple solution to reduce them: enhanced lighting.
The light side of home improvements
SeniorHomes.com asserts that proper lighting throughout the home is an effective way for older adults to adapt to their changing physical abilities. With age, the eyes’ ability to rapidly adjust to different lighting intensities diminishes. Creating consistent ambient light throughout the home lessens the burden on the eyes, making navigation from room to room less challenging. Thankfully, lighting upgrades are usually inexpensive and fairly simple to complete without a contractor. Even something as simple as plugging in a motion-activated night light can have a positive effect on a senior’s ability to stay at home. This is especially true in the hallway and stairwells, where seniors may have trouble navigating due to improper lighting.
Lowdown on light types
It’s important to note, especially when it comes to senior living, that all light is not created equally. Seniors with visual impairments should test out full-spectrum, incandescent, fluorescent and LED lights to see, which works best for them. Each has its pros and cons. Full-spectrum lights, for example, are similar to natural sunlight. However, long-term exposure can be harmful to the retina. Likewise, LED lights, which are dimmable, long-lasting and less expensive to use than other lights can also harm the eyes. Different types of light are also better for different uses. The bedroom should be illuminated with light void of tones that mimic sunlight. EarthLED goes into greater detail on the various types of lighting in which circumstances each is best suited for in this post.
Design and placement
Just as different types of bulb emit different types of light, certain light fixtures are better in some situations than others. For seniors who like to read, a small table light can mean the difference between eyestrain and an enjoyable reading experience. This type of task lighting is also useful in hobby and craft areas and anywhere the senior will need to focus close up, such as at a desk or piano keyboard. Overhead lights, which include those mounted in the ceiling (ceiling fan, track lighting, etc.), provide ambient light that can be supplemented with task lights at night to reduce color contrast.
Smart home innovations
These days, it seems like you can control just about everything from your phone. Lighting is no different and, for seniors, this is one of the greatest advantages of living in the digital age. CBS News recently included the WeMo Light Switch on its list of nearly a dozen must-have home features for seniors that choose to age in place. This is essentially a switch that may be controlled by voice or via app and allows the homeowner to switch the lights on and off before getting up to move around the house.
Do’s and don’ts
There is no one type of lighting the ideal for everyone. However, there are a few golden rules for aging in place lighting.
- Do use layered light; this is the most effective form of lighting
- Don’t use bare bulbs; uncovered bulbs create glare
- Do prioritize task lighting; a focused beam reduces shadows
- Don’t leave lamp cords in walking paths; this is a dangerous tripping hazard
When you retire, you want to be in the most comfortable place possible. But you also have to be safe. One simple and easy way to ensure your safety is by keeping things well-lit in every room.
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the Contrarian Librarian
Aging at Home Activist