Upgrade Your Home’s Lighting to Age in Place Safely
Even though your home suits you right now, planning to age in place requires thinking about possible future limitations. There are a number of changes you can make to your home so that it’s safer, and one thing you don’t want to overlook is lighting. Vision changes as we age, and on top of that, older people are at a greater risk of falling. Having the right lighting can lower this risk significantly to help you age in place safely.
Are You Using the Right Light?
Many people don’t realize that we use several different types of lighting in our homes. In order to make sure you’re using the right light, it’s important to understand the differences and how they should be layered.
- Ambient light is your primary lighting source that fills the room. While ambient light fills a room, it may not be enough light for doing certain tasks.
- Task lighting provides bright light that is focused on a specific area.
- Accent light is used mostly for decoration. It tends to create a softer glow.
When all three types of light are layered, you get the best combination of function and visual appeal. In general, seniors should consider adding more ambient light because you need brighter light as you age. If you have low vision, you will also want plenty of task light throughout the home for everyday activities from reading a book to cooking in the kitchen. Older adults with vision problems also have trouble with glare from light. Senior Homes recommends reducing glare by using shades on all lamps so that bulbs are not exposed.
While these general rules apply universally, you also have specific lighting needs in different areas of your home.
- Living room – Your living room is often where you spend the most time, which means you want plenty of ambient light that you can easily turn on when you enter the room. Task lights, such as table lamps, are also essential for specific activities you do in the living room.
- Kitchen – Layered lighting is especially important in the kitchen so that you have plenty of light to do kitchen tasks safely. LED lights are ideal because they operate at lower temperatures and have a long lifespan, so they’re low maintenance. Installing under cabinet task lights is another must-do project to ensure safety in the kitchen.
- Bathroom – Many people focus on vanity lighting in the bathroom, which is essential for activities you do by the mirror, but you don’t want to overlook the importance of lighting the entire room. Make sure the bathtub and shower area are well-lit for safety. Don’t forget night lighting, so you can easily get to the bathroom at night.
- Outside your home – While interior lighting is important, don’t forget to also light up the exterior of your house to make sure you can get inside safely. Walkway lights can be used to light up paths and stairs to your front door. Lighting walkways and entryways is extremely important for preventing falls.
Lighting for Fall Prevention
Along with using the right type of light, you can troubleshoot your home’s lighting to maximize safety and prevent falls. Replace light switches with slide switches that are easier to use. And while lighting in each room is necessary for everyday life, don’t forget about parts of your home that can be harder to navigate including hallways and stairs. These areas should have extra lighting, so you can get around more easily. It may also be worth upgrading your lighting with new high-tech solutions. According to CBS News, new devices work with your smartphone that allow to you control lights by voice.
New tech devices and advances in lighting technology are in your favor when it comes to upgrading your home’s lighting. While physical accessibility if often what comes to mind first when we think about aging in place, lighting is just as important. Falling is the primary risk to your safety, and the right light is one of the best ways of reducing that risk.
Written by: Karen Weeks at elderwellness.net
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