Lighting is essential in every building, but its importance takes a central role when residents are seniors. Call it science, strategy, or creativity, but lighting design can make a world of difference to aging eyes.
Today, I focus on a niche market, which has its own challenges and special lighting needs —senior living facilities.
Lighting Considerations for Seniors
Senior living facilities should feel warm, lively, and welcoming; Understanding light’s impact on senior vision goes a long way. Anyone involved with the senior care industry should know these basic considerations:
1. Enhancing the Vision: For most, eyesight becomes weaker with age. Generally, the elderly need two to six times brighter light than their younger counterparts.
- The table below helps determine the degree of lumens that work best for each age group.
2. Softening the Contrast: Several studies show that seniors with waning eyesight are much more likely to mistake dark shadows for physical objects, falling prey to accidents. Ideal lighting arrangement would cast softer and minimal shadows.
3. Reducing Glares: Just as with dark shadows, glares can be risky for seniors. Replacing shiny surfaces with matte finishes and using opaque lamps or lampshades enhances vision.
4. Understanding the Psychology: Right ambiance helps curb signs of depression. Warm (i.e., red to yellow) lights work well in public dining spaces while cool white light is best for reading, activities, and personal living areas.1
5. Maintaining the Circadian Rhythm: Being exposed to bright light during the daytime and dim light at night helps regulate our biological clock. This rhythm is essential for good health.
A healthy circadian rhythm improves sleep quality and helps minimize stress.
- Different wavelengths of light can affect this cycle. For example, exposure to blue light, which is emitted by device screens and normal-use fluorescent and LED lights, before bedtime can interfere with sleep.2
6. Serving Different Purposes: Stick-on lights for closets, motion-sensing lights, and automatic night lights improve visual performance for a variety of purposes.
- Installing touch-enabled lights can help Alzheimer patients.
- Light dimmers allow individual control of lighting for optimal comfort.
7. Promoting Accessibility: Room entrance walls and bedside walls are a good spot to install light switches. Two-way switches also come in handy.
8. Other Target Spots: Bathrooms, staircases, entrances, kitchen/dining areas are a few spots, which require bright lightings.
- A bathroom should be well-lit, as it is a wet spot. Light up staircases by fitting lights to the railings. Under-cabinet lights in the kitchen also promote vision quality.
Obviously, the type of lights you install makes a huge difference for your residents and in your overall cost. In my next article, I share which lighting option is clearly better and why.
The team behind Vida4 is well-versed with efficient lighting design and engineering for the full spectrum of senior living facilities. Drop us a note and discover how we can help serve the seniors better!
Director of Architectural Aesthetic Design
and Review, Base4