Lighting for seniors requires attention to some specific details. When planning a lighting design for aging baby boomers we want to provide both adequate light to see clearly and a safe environment. With a combination of recessed, pendant, track and wall fixtures, these needs can be met. It is very important that certain areas be well lit. Areas like stairs and bathrooms where so many accidents occur or basements, which are usually dark. Kitchens require a great deal of light so food can be prepared safely.
It is fact that as we age our eyes needs change and we need more light to see properly. What may be suitable at 25 may not be good enough at 40 and what may work at 40, just won’t cut it at age 60. Task lighting can help in a kitchen by installing under cabinet lights. A good choice for under cabinet lights is fluorescent for the simple reason that they require very little maintenance. This is another important aspect to consider. We want to try to choose lighting that requires very little maintenance and does not require tools to change bulbs. Placing the light fixtures in a location that makes it easy to reach to change light bulbs is also a good choice. Wall sconces are a good choice to solve this problem. A wall sconce placed in a stairway for instance can provide light as well as eliminate the need for a ladder to change the light bulb.
Wall sconces can be a solution in other rooms as well. Two wall sconces; one on each side of the vanity does a great job of illuminating the room and ease of bulb replacement. Just be sure when choosing a fixture that the wall sconce has an open top or bottom so the bulb can be replaced without having to remove parts. A bar light above the vanity with exposed bulbs is another good alternative. The fixtures you want to try and avoid are those in which small screws need to be loosened or removed to get to the bulb.
Another point to consider is outdoor lighting for security. Be sure to provide plenty of light at all entrances and exits. These lights should also be on a timer or photocell so that they are on when needed. Someone may leave expecting to be home before dark and get delayed. In this case having the lights come on automatically will allow them to enter the house safely. Motion detectors can also be used in places that we don’t want to keep the lights on for extended periods. Areas like walkways along the side of a house or a path where the garbage is taken out. Driveways are another good location for a motion detector light.
In fixtures where changing a bulb is a little difficult, using a compact fluorescent is a good choice. With a compact fluorescent, the bulb will last as long as 3 years and sometimes longer. A great place for one is in a shower light, just be sure to get a big enough bulb to light the area adequately. Outside light fixtures are also a good choice unless you live in an area where the temperature gets below freezing a lot. Another place for fluorescent fixtures are closets, which can be extremely dark for an elderly person.
The key points to remember are to make sure all areas are adequately illuminated and use fixtures that require a minimum of maintenance.
Paul forte has been in the lighting industry for over 25 years. For more info and tips on lighting and other electrical needs please visit Lighting Tips - for help with laying out recessed lighting