Modifications, retrofits can help older eyes around the house
One of the often overlooked aging-in-place concerns is lighting for elderly eyes. Studies have found that by age 60, a person needs about three times as much light as they did when they were 20 years of age. That makes it important to ensure your loved one has adequate lighting around the house—not only for safety concerns but for health and well-being matters.
As a first step to improve lighting in the aging-in-place Bay Village home, it’s beneficial to understand that as eyes age, there are several vision changes that occur: visual acuity (sharpness of details) decreases; the ability decreases to distinguish between colors during rapid brightness changes; sensitivity diminishes to detect differences between contrasts (light and dark) on surfaces; and sensitivity to glare increases.
Taking these facts into account, the top priority for the aging-in-place home should be consistent, quality lighting within a room and from room to room. This will not only improve safety but the increased light exposure has a positive effect to maintain the body’s circadian system, which controls the sleep/wake cycles. A better balance in the sleep/wake cycle may help reduce confusion in day-to-day routines and improve alertness and activity levels, according to the Lighting Research Center at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.
Here are some steps you can take to improve the amount and quality of light:
General (ambient) room lighting for older eyes should be about three to four times greater than is usual for younger eyes. Senior lighting should stay in the “warm” range, from 2700-3500 Kelvin degrees. One solution is to retrofit existing fixtures to improve the lighting output: recessed lights, cove lighting or pendant fixtures.
Other improvements include wall sconces, light valences and portable reading lamps. Light fixtures should have opaque shades that help reduce glare by dispersing the light. If turning a light on or off is a challenge for a senior, a voice activated light switch may be the answer.
Stairway lighting should be plentiful and free from shadows and glare, so that it is safe to navigate the steps with the details illuminated.
For task lighting, such as for cooking or hobbies, a neutral or cool white light of 3500-5000 Kelvin is an optimum choice. Under cabinet lighting that illuminates kitchen counters will not only offer contrasting light for work areas, but will make the food look more appealing to the eye.
Dimmable lights make sense for the multi-generation home. A brighter setting can be used for the elder loved one, and when that setting is not needed, the light can be dimmed for others.
Many homeowners enjoy natural light—the dominant source of ambient light at no charge. Generous daylight from windows adds benefits to the circadian rhythm. Skylights or solar tubes are other ways to enhance a room’s illumination.
It is critical to maintain a uniform light level from room to room, and motion sensors offer a solution. As a person walks down a hallway to another room, the sensors will activate the lighting so there is no need for the eye to adjust to varying light levels, which reduces the risk of falls and accidents.
A nighttime scheme may also be developed in which motion detectors with dim nightlights present a way for caregivers to check on their loved one while not having to find light switches in the darkness. The scheme can also include amber lights or 2700K lights for the elderly to walk to the bathroom, for example, and the lighting will not disturb the circadian system—so the person will fall asleep again easily.
One other simple solution is to repaint dark walls with a lighter shade in a matte finish to reduce glare. Dark walls tend to absorb light to a much larger degree than off-white walls. When choosing paint, look for a Light Reflective Value of 70-80 for walls and 80-90 for ceilings.
It’s important to have adequate lighting for your senior loved one for safety’s safe and well-being. Many options are available to make the lighting in the aging-in-place Bay Village home pleasing for all ages.
The professionals at Sciarappa Construction will help you plan the project and complete the job to your total satisfaction. Start by calling (440) 930-2882 or email us at email@example.com. We’re located at 32961 Oak Pkwy., Avon Lake, OH 44012, and our general contracting crew has more than 40 years of combined experience in remodeling homes within the Avon, Avon Lake, and Greater Cleveland, Ohio areas. We are a family-owned and operated full-service construction company.
Sciarappa Construction offers services including new home construction, subdivision, development, apartment, and existing home rehab, plus general contracting and construction management.