It’s officially Fall and the days are growing shorter rather quickly. With Daylight Savings right around the corner, now is the perfect time to do a home safety check, especially if you are living with someone who is elderly and has visual impairment or physical disabilities. Each year, 28 – 35 % of adults age 65 and older (that’s one in three)have falls. Having sufficient light to move throughout the day and evening is important for safety. Many elderly people do not sufficiently light their homes to meet the needs of their aging eyes. It is good to have your eyes examined once a year and also to re-assess your home lighting to be sure the environment is well-lit.
Indoors there should be plenty of ambient light.
- Natural sunlight can brighten a room, making it pleasant while increasing safety. If the sunlight is too bright however, it can cause glare which can be dangerous. Light colored or white sheer curtains can allow filtered light to brighten
- If natural light is not sufficient, dimmable fluorescent ceiling fixtures or newer LED lights that simulate natural light, can bounce light off the ceiling and provide a good source of ambient light. They can also be turned up or down to brighten a room according to variable situations such as time of day/evening.
- Skylights are another excellent option for providing ambient light to brighten a room.
Sufficient task lighting, such as reading lamps, desk lighting, or lighted mirrors make it possible for aging eyes to perform daily tasks without strain. It is important that an elderly person, or a person with limited mobility be able to control the lighting easily.
- Many older homes are not taking advantage of the new fluorescent bulbs that can improve the quality of light and cut down on electricity expenses.
- Task lighting can be placed in closets, over drawers, under cabinets, and along dark hallways.
- Using back-lit rocker light switches on the walls of every room can help the elderly access lighting more easily.
- Assistive devices are available such as the SiCare ll that converts spoken commands into signals to control lights, televisions, telephones and more.
Contrast is another important consideration. Many elderly people have difficulty distinguishing the edges of things. It is important to provide a high contrast between the floor and objects in the room. For stairs and counter-tops, it can be helpful to use brightly colored tape to define the edges of hard surfaces.
Adequate outdoor lighting is essential as over half of all falls occur outside the home. There are many options for lighting pathways, steps, and porches.
- Automatic floodlights that use motion sensors or timers are good options for broad areas.
- Pathways lit with solar lighting are another good source, especially on remote pathways.
- Ensuring that your house number is well lit is another important consideration. Can emergency vehicles find your address easily both in the day and night time? Reflective numbers or a spot light on the house numbers is a good idea.
Providing good lighting both indoors and out will help with home safety. Active In-Home Therapy offers an in-home safety inspection. We can help you identify areas of your home that might need to be altered to ensure a safe environment for your loved ones. We include a lighting assessment as part of our service.
The Center of Design for an Aging Society has published an illustrated guide that has many more good tips: Lighting Your Way to Better Vision. We hope you will take a look at their website and their guide.
~Karl Power, CEO