Seeing the Light: Why Lighting Is Important for Senior Citizens
As people age, they consider home improvements that will make their living spaces both safer and more enjoyable. Some senior citizens choose to downgrade to a smaller and easy-to-manage home, while others improve the safety of their current household by making sure railings are tightly installed, rugs are put on slippery floors and stairs are covered in soft carpet. One factor that is often overlooked is the lighting throughout the home. While it may seem simple, lighting is one of the most important features of the home, especially as people get older.
According to SeniorJournal.com, senior citizens need three times the amount of light than younger people do in order to see clearly. This is because the lenses on the eye thicken and the pupils shrink, causing the eyes to react slower to lighting conditions. Senior citizens with dementia also suffer from additional eye impairment because they have a difficulty in distinguishing objects from their backgrounds.
Not only is lighting necessary for senior citizens because of the effects of aging, but they also need adequate lighting for safety. Senior citizens are at an increased risk for slips and falls, so it’s important that they can see clearly throughout the home.
Where Should Seniors Have Lighting?
It’s essential that every room has adequate lighting for both safety and comfort, but there are certain areas that require careful attention. Make sure that stairways and walkways have enough lighting, as these are some of the most common places for slips and falls. Ideally, seniors should have a light switch at both the top and bottom of the stairs so that they can switch the lights on and off without being stuck in the dark. The lights should point toward the stairs so that each step is well lit.
The kitchen is another room that needs adequate lighting, as this is where seniors prepare all of their meals and handle appliances. Seniors must be able to read the labels on food items, buttons on appliances and also be able to handle cutting and chopping confidently. To increase lighting, consider installing lights underneath cabinets. Other good choices include low-hanging lights to go over a breakfast bar or recessed lighting in all corners of the kitchen.
Another room that deserves attention is the family room or den, where reading, watching television and relaxing is done. There is no need for seniors to strain their eyes when engaging in their hobbies, so choose lighting that will complement activities. For example, floor lamps that have 3-way bulbs are ideal, since each bulb can be positioned differently, providing light from a variety of angles.
Nightlights are also important to have throughout the home, especially because seniors find themselves getting up during the night to use the washroom. Consider the areas that are dark and often traveled through during the late hours, such as hallways, stairs and bedrooms. Nightlights are easy to place in both high and low outlets to provide sufficient lighting, at least until a senior can reach the light switch.
What Types of Light Bulbs are Best for Seniors?
The standard and most basic type of light bulb is an incandescent bulb. What makes an incandescent bulb a great option for seniors is that it is easy to change, easy to keep clean and fits in standard lamps and fixtures. Because incandescent bulbs contain no mercury or lead, they can be disposed of or recycled with the regular trash.
Fluorescent light bulbs are another great option for seniors because they are efficient, produce little heat and last up to 20,000 hours. A longer life means seniors won’t have to change the bulbs as much. Fluorescent light bulbs do contain mercury however, so it’s important to dispose of them properly.
Turning Light Bulbs On and Off with Ease
Light bulbs and fixtures aren’t the only important factors to consider; seniors must also think about how their light bulbs will be turned on and off. If possible, make sure that all light bulbs can be turned on using a light switch so that the room is well lit upon entering or exiting. As an added benefit, choose to install dimmers onto light switches so that the intensity of the light can be altered using the switch.
Other great options are rocker switches, which are larger than standard switches and can be turned on and off using an arm, elbow or even a cane. If there are rooms where the lights are not hooked up to a light switch, clap-on lights should be considered. These friendly alternatives make it easy for seniors to gently clap their hands in order to activate light bulbs.
How to Safely Change a Light Bulb
Providing a senior citizen’s home with enough light is not only essential for safety, but it also allows seniors more independence and confidence. Best of all, once proper lighting is installed, seniors can maintain their light bulbs and fixtures themselves. To change a light bulb is simple and requires no tools, as long as the bulb is in a lamp or fixture that does not contain a glass reflector. If a glass reflector is present, a small screwdriver can be used to loosen the screws and remove the bulb.
1. Turn off the electricity and let the bulb cool for 5 minutes. 2. Hold the base of the bulb firmly with one hand, while turning it counterclockwise until it is released from the socket. 3. Insert the new light bulb into the socket, making sure it fits snug. 4. Turn the light bulb in a clockwise direction until is locked in. 5. Switch the electricity to “on” and make sure that the bulb is working properly.
What to Look for When Choosing Light Fixtures
There may not be much that seniors can do about existing lighting, but if updating fixtures or purchasing a new home, there are certain light fixtures to consider. Look for ceiling fixtures that do not contain globes around them. These need to be removed and cleaned often in order to maintain their look and proper lighting. Not to mention, in order to reach these fixtures, seniors will need a ladder or step stool, which only increases the risk of slips and falls.
Floor lamps make great lighting options since they are easy to maintain. Light bulbs can simply be swapped out and a cloth or paper towel can be used to wipe down the bulbs and fixtures. Best of all, floors lamps are inexpensive, can be matched to any décor and can be moved throughout the home.
Wall sconces are other great alternatives to ceiling lighting, especially in stairwells and bathrooms. Wall sconces make it easy to change out light bulbs and most models have openings on both the top and bottom. Sconces are easy to clean, have decorative appeal and provide ample lighting, especially is awkward places and corners.
Proper lighting is vital for the safety and independence of senior citizens. Fortunately, senior centers and retirement homes have improved their standards in regards to lighting, but it’s important that the homes of seniors are not ignored. Take the time to consider new and updated light bulbs and fixtures, as well as increasing the wattage where applicable. Ultimately, seniors will find their homes more enjoyable and comfortable with these minor home improvements.
Visit this site for information about fluorescent light bulbs.
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Many people take their vision for granted, but what if you lost your peripheral vision, developed a black spot in the center of your visual field, or even went blind altogether? For more than 4.2 million Americans living with serious vision loss or blindness, these and other vision challenges can make it difficult to enjoy life’s simple pleasures such as reading, playing cards, or watching grandchildren grow. Vision loss can also make it difficult to live independently, work, or drive. That’s why it is so important to prevent eye disease and vision loss whenever possible.
Often, preventive care and lifestyle choices can help keep your vision healthy. Ophthalmologists – eye physicians and surgeons – encourage seniors to follow these top five tips to safeguard vision:
- Get an eye exam. To protect healthy vision, seniors age 65 and older should have a dilated eye exam every 1-2 years, or as recommended by their ophthalmologist. Visit www.eyecareamerica.org to find out if you or a loved one qualifies for an eye exam at no out-of-pocket cost with one of EyeCare America’s volunteer ophthalmologists.
- Know your family history. Eye diseases like age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and glaucoma can run in families, so it’s important to know your family’s history of eye disease and talk to your ophthalmologist about any possible genetic risk factors.
- Don’t smoke. Tobacco smoking is directly linked to many adverse health effects, including cataracts and AMD. Studies show that current smokers and ex-smokers are more likely to develop AMD than people who have never smoked.
- Eat right. A variety of vegetables, especially leafy green ones, are an important part of an eye-healthy diet. Researchers have found people on diets with higher levels of vitamins C and E, zinc, lutein, zeaxanthin, omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA are less likely to develop early and advanced AMD. For delicious recipes that incorporate these essential nutrients, EyeCare America offers a free, downloadable cookbook, called Feast Your Eyes on This.
- Protect your eyes from injuries. An estimated 2.5 million eye injuries occur in the U.S. each year, so it is critical to wear proper eye protection to prevent eye injuries, especially during home projects like gardening and cleaning. Eye injuries can also be prevented by securing loose rugs, railings, or other hazards that could cause falls or slips.
Seniors age 65 and older are at the greatest risk for eye disease and vision loss, and because diseases like AMD and glaucoma often have no early symptoms, comprehensive eye exams are especially important. EyeCare America provides care at no out-of-pocket cost to seniors age 65 and older through its corps of volunteer ophthalmologists across the U.S. and Puerto Rico.
EyeCare America is designed for people who:
- Are U.S. citizens or legal residents;
- Are age 65 and older;
- Have not seen an ophthalmologist in three or more years; and,
- Do not receive eye care through an HMO or the VA.
To see if you or a loved one age 65 or older is eligible, visit www.eyecareamerica.org. EyeCare America is co-sponsored by the Knights Templar Eye Foundation, Inc., with additional support provided by Alcon. The program is endorsed by state and subspecialty ophthalmological societies.
About EyeCare America
Established in 1985, EyeCare America, a public service program of the Foundation of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, is committed to the preservation of sight, accomplishing its mission through public service and education. EyeCare America provides year-round eye care services to medically underserved seniors and those at increased risk for eye disease through its corps of nearly 7,000 volunteer ophthalmologists dedicated to serving their communities. More than 90 percent of the care made available is provided at no out-of-pocket cost to the patients. Since its inception, EyeCare America has helped more than 1.7 million people. More information can be found at: www.eyecareamerica.org.
How to Care for an Elderly Person or Senior
by: Starlet Nicole
It is not always easy caring for an elderly person. Their physical condition, health issues and their emotional state can present challenges for you, the caregiver. There are no doubts that caring for an elderly person is admirable, but it certainly comes with stress and at times can be overwhelming.
Far too many people feel guilty that they can not care for an elderly person on their own. Life presents far too many challenges and more often than not raising a family, paying into a mortgage and keeping food on the table can be challenging enough let alone adding to this caring for an elderly loved one. Although this can be challenging – it is not impossible. Preparing yourself and your family members for the transition is essential in order to make this work well.
Get informed about the physical needs of your loved one. Talk to the doctor and to anyone else who may have the wisdom and knowledge to help you care for the elderly member of your family. Know what to expect, what medications are required. Using services provided by a certified in-home caregiver from a professional agency can assist you in times that you need that extra help.
Keeping all important information in one file is important and this includes all medical information including test results, names and phone numbers of doctors, appointment dates, hospital cards, and insurance information. If your loved one is taking a lot of medications, make a chart to help keep track of what medication is to be taken and when.
Always be sure the home is safe. If your loved one uses a walker be sure throw rugs are secure, and there are no obstacles for them to trip over. Install safety railings should this help. If your loved one can get confused at times, it’s also a good safety precaution to have a baby gate positioned high enough in the door frame at staircases so that they can not fall down.
Spending time caring for the elderly does not have to be all about taking care of their personal needs. Spend time asking them about their life. Everyone has stories to share about their life and some seniors have great experiences to share.
Teach an elderly person about the Internet. Many elderly people are nervous about computers and teaching them about all the amazing benefits of the Internet can spark new life in the person you are caring for.
The brain likes to stay active and no better way to do this than to play word games, crossword puzzles or even some board games such as Scrabble.
Always remember to be understanding because as we get older we tend to be very set in our ways and this means being stubborn at times. If the person you are caring for is being very stubborn and it is not a big issue, let it go. If the stubbornness is over something that is not negotiable it’s much easier to handle and you’ll have much less stress when you know to expect it.
When you have all the tools you need, it will make caring for the elderly much easier.
About The Author
Starlet is professional author for GC Nexus Group, Elderly Caregivers Agency help in finding professional caregivers throughout Montreal and Toronto in Canada. GC Nexus offers Live in Caregivers Canada, senior caregiver and elderly home care services for your parents and spouses by professionals.
The author invites you to visit:
Seniors who have urinary incontinence have been shown to have 3 times the risk of falls as compared to seniors without urinary incontinence. The connection between urinary incontinence and falls is surprising but studies do show that when you are able to care for your bladder issues you will have a less likely chance of dealing with falls. Falls in the elderly can lead to severe problems like hip fractures and in many cases hip surgery may be too hard to recover from and can lead to death.
There are close to 1.9 million emergency room visits each year due to senior falls. If managing your urinary incontinence problems will prevent or decrease your risk of senior falls, it is important to figure out how you can start taking control of these urinary issues. So why are senior falls and urinary incontinence linked in some way? Most of the studies indicate that there is an issue with falls when a senior is rushing to get to the bathroom. They may trip over furniture and even over their own feet in their rush to relieve their bladder before it starts to dribble. Not only are the bladder muscles to blame for incontinence they are also to blame for senior falls. Weak bladder muscles actually aid in controlling our balance and when they are not strong, they will lead to serious issues.
What can you do in order to prevent falls in the home? It helps to make the home into a safer environment by installing safety devices like railings and using a walker to help you get around. It is also important to keep the home clean and organized in order to prevent piles from getting in the way when you are walking around. Grab bars in the bathtub and next to the toilet will also be able to help prevent falls from occurring when you are rushing to get to the restroom.
Strengthening the pelvic core muscles will also aid in managing urinary incontinence along with helping to prevent falls from occurring. Studies done on women dealing with urinary incontinence and balance problems find that when a woman is able to strengthen her pelvic core muscles she will have a lower change of dealing with dribble throughout the day and her body will respond quickly if she does slip or trips over something.
Muscles do get weak but they can be strengthened and retrained at any age, allowing you to fix bladder control problems even if you have dealt with them in the past. Some seniors find relief when they start to exercise but they do notice they still have dribble when they laugh or get excited. This is completely normal and it helps to have some urinary incontinence products that can make living with urinary incontinence easier.
Some of the best exercises you can do in order to improve the pelvic core muscles include Kegel exercises. These exercises are commonly used during pregnancy to help prepare a woman’s body to give birth by making her lower region stronger. What you will focus on doing is squeezing the muscles that are used to stop the flow or urine. They are great for building muscle tone around your urethra and will aid in controlling the flow or urine when the bladder tries to release it.
Another exercise to do is to lie on your back with your knees at a 90 degree angle (feet flat on the floor) and to lift up your entire lower region and hold it tight for 10 seconds and release it back to the floor. Do this exercise daily to help strengthen your lower region as it will aid in providing you with stronger pelvic core muscles and preventing falls and problems with senior falls.
About the Author:
Dianna Malkowski is a Board Certified Physician Assistant and Mayo Clinic trained nutritionist specializing in diabetes, cancer, wound healing, therapeutic diets and nutrition support.
Visit the Care Giver Partnership for more info on Incontinence supplies
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