Tips for Seniors and Caregivers
As seniors age, their bodies go through many changes. Among these changes are several possible issues with vision. Age-related eye and vision problems include macular degeneration, cataracts, diabetic retinopathy, chronic dry eyes, glaucoma, and retinal detachment-- and those are just on top of the normal, age-related vision changes most people experience. There are an estimated 6.5 million Americans over age 65 with a severe visual impairment.
While you can’t stop the passage of time, you can make things easier for seniors around the house by adjusting the lighting for low vision. Having sufficient light around the house makes it easier for seniors to complete day-to-day tasks safely while reducing the risk of falls in the home. Use the following tips to create a safe lighting plan that supports a senior’s aging-in-place.
Illuminate Dark Corners and Passageways
A senior’s eyes are less able to adjust to sudden changes in lighting intensity. Because of this, walking into dark corners and passageways can be disorienting for seniors. Lighting should be fairly consistent from room to room, including those areas where you previously did not need illumination. Make sure there is plenty of light around hallways and staircases especially, as they are high-risk areas for senior falls.
Lighting in the Kitchen, Living Room, and Bathrooms
The kitchen is one of the busiest rooms in the house, so it needs to have a lot of light for seniors. A good way to make sure there is a lot of light that you can adjust as needed is with layering. Layering your lighting involves using different sources with varying intensities that can be turned on and off individually. The two things you should really avoid when planning your kitchen lighting in a senior home are lighting with shades and exposed bulbs. Anything with shades is just going to be more upkeep for a senior to deal with, and exposed bulbs can create glare that makes it hard for older individuals to see well.
The living room is another high-traffic area of the home. When planning your living room’s lighting, most of the illumination should come from ambient light that provides visibility without being overly harsh. Add task and accent lighting next to sitting areas-- especially if seniors use them for activities such as reading, sewing, or watching television.
The lighting in the bathroom may not need much of a makeover-- many interior designers know that this is an area where a lot of illumination is desired. But one thing you should take into consideration is that seniors often have to make trips to the bathroom at night. To make it easier and prevent accidents, put motion detectors on lights leading up to the bathroom as well as inside so seniors don’t have to fumble around in the dark.
Consider Smart Lighting
Among all the smart home features that help with aging-in-place, smart lighting systems are some of the easiest to use. These systems can be really convenient for those who want more control over the illumination in their home. Smart lighting can hook up to your home hub-- such as the Amazon Echo-- for voice control throughout the house. Even without a hub, most smart lighting systems can be controlled via a smartphone or tablet app.
Vision loss is common among many seniors, but it doesn’t have to be a detriment to aging-in-place. With enough lighting, many seniors are able to go about their days safely in their own homes. Lighting should be consistent throughout the house and layered so intensity can be adjusted as needed. Add motion detectors to bathroom lights to protect seniors during the night. Finally, consider smart lighting devices that give seniors more control over their light with less work.