There’s a lot of talk about “aging in place” in the remodeling industry. Homeowners are increasingly asking designers to help them envision home modifications that will serve future needs.
While the term “aging in place” fosters some negative connotations, it essentially means creating a more accessible and low-maintenance space (i.e., eliminating unnecessary steps, adding slip-resistant bathroom floors, etc.) See the National Association of Home Builder’s checklist for more information.
Lighting adjustments do hold a prominent place on the “aging in place” checklist, but they would be better off on another list altogether.
People begin experiencing major changes in eyesight at the young age of 45. As you get older, the changes accelerate: You are less able to discriminate between colors, more sensitive to glare, and less able to see small details. Also, it begins to take increasingly longer to adapt to sudden changes in brightness.
Research shows that a 60-year-old needs twice as much light as a 30-year-old. Most of the commonly found lighting guidelines are written with the 30-year-old user in mind. -American Lighting Association
The fact is that people simply need more light to see details and to prevent eye fatigue as they age — and it becomes important much sooner that you might think.
To create the lighting atmosphere that you will inevitably need in your home, start with these tips from lighting designers:
- Layer the lighting in a room to create a balance between general fixtures, task fixtures, and decorative fixtures.
- Turn on a few table lamps while watching TV to reduce the contrast between the screen and the dark room.
- Add dimmers so you can match the lighting levels to the task at hand.
- Use diffused lighting to minimize shadows, and choose fixtures that create minimal glare.