Changes in vision present a constant safety hazard for older adults, especially those who live in homes with inadequate, uneven, or too-bright lighting. The situation is worsened by the diminished eyesight that’s a natural and to-be-expected effect of aging.
Seniors may also experience fluctuating vision, loss of peripheral eyesight, or distorted vision. These are often symptoms of chronic conditions like hypertension, diabetes, macular degeneration or even glaucoma.
Whatever the cause, loss of vision is a serious threat to a senior’s well-being, and therefore, a well-illuminated living space is so important.
The Right Light
Pay careful attention to the kind of lighting in your home. Avoid bulbs that give off glare, if you have them in your home already, replace them with LED or compact fluorescent bulbs that provide softer ambient lighting that’s easier on the eyes. Such bulbs enhance visual acuity, help prevent falls, and provide a softer, more relaxing atmosphere. It’s especially important to use these lights in places where being able to see clearly is very important, like stairways, hallways and rooms with no windows.
Dramatic differences in lighting from room to room can be dangerous for older adults, whose eyes don’t adjust as quickly as they used to. Without even, consistent lighting between rooms, an unnoticed cord or piece of furniture could result in a fall, and a trip to the emergency room. Adding ambient lighting where needed helps light the way without being disorienting or causing momentary vision loss.
If you or a loved one struggles with light or lamp switches in a darkened room, consider the benefits of automated lighting activated by motion sensors or controlled by voice. In the bathroom, where falls are commonplace among seniors, abundant lighting, night lights, and other physical mobility aids offered by AvaCare Medical are essential for preventing injuries. A raised toilet seat, grab rails, shower chair, and handheld shower head can make the bathroom easier and safer to navigate.
Smart Home Automation
Smart home lighting features can be a great benefit to older adults who want to live safely and relatively independently at home. The Wemo Light Switch eliminates the need to grope around blindly in the dark, thanks to a smartphone app. Lights can be synched up with a timer, controlled remotely from outside the house or by voice command. A home assistant product, like Amazon Echo, can simplify lighting.
Programmable lighting will turn lights on and off as you enter and leave rooms and maneuver along hallways, a real asset for an older adult with reduced vision trying to find the bathroom down the hall late at night. For rooms with hard-to-access electrical outlets, wireless stick-on motion-sensing lights allow for instant and easy-to-light-up hazardous passages. They’re also a good choice for seniors who need a bedside night light. Or, try a plug adapter that converts your lamp into a touch-activated light source.
Getting the light just right when you want to sit and read or do a crossword puzzle can be a challenge. Lamps that are too close may give off too much glare. Try an efficient 8-watt LED table lamp that can be swiveled back and forth as needed, or a floor lamp which focuses lighting downward so the light isn’t diffused or angled too much.
There are plenty of lighting options that can help seniors age safely at home. Be discriminating about applying the right light in the right places so you can move around safely and read without having to strain your eyes. The best home lighting situation is often one that blends smart lighting technology with soft, ambient lamps that allow older adults to make the most of any senior’s level of vision.