Making the Bedroom a Safe Place for Seniors with Lighting and Electrical Choices

For seniors choosing to remain in their homes, the bedroom can potentially be an unsafe place without taking some extra precautions. Special lighting and electrical choices can add to the safety of the bedroom for those preparing for or choosing to age in place.

    Lighting:

  • Are lamps or light switches within reach of each bed?
  • Nighttime falls can be prevented by locating furniture closer to switches or moving lamps closer to beds.
  • Install night lights along the path to the bathroom.
  • Keep in mind that too much glare from the lights or surfaces can also be a problem causing unsafe conditions.
  • Try to make sure there is a contrast between the flooring and walls for easier navigation.  The base moulding color should match the wall or be a high contrast so that the floor does not look higher than it actually is for those with older eyes.
  • Make sure that lamps are shaded to avoid glare
  • The night stand light should be modified with a “touch” switch.  (You just touch the lamp and it turns on).  Home Depot has conversion kits. 
  • In general, lighting should be overdone, but capable of being dimmed when the light is not needed.
  • There are night lights that are built in to receptacles; these are typically LEDs so that they don’t burn out or get as hot as regular incandescent plug in lamps.
    • If the house is automated, sensors could detect that someone has gotten out of bed, and dimly light a path to the bathroom for a finite window. An added benefit is that if one spouse leaves the bed for a bathroom trip, the remaining spouse could have some notion as to how long the other has been gone. 
    • There are also louvered lights that are designed to light the floor at night– they are installed down low so they light the floor but don’t produce a glare.
    • Closets should be well lit, with a light that comes on either by a light switch or just by opening the door. Florescent lights should have tubes with a good color rendering index (the spectrum of light it produces).

Electrical Choices:

  • Electrical cords should not be smothered or smashed behind furniture.
    • A fire hazard could result from a cord that sticks straight out of the receptacle and is bent at a ninety degree angle by the furniture or mattress jammed up against the wall.
    • There are flat plugs available that go to a plug strip.
  • Watch that too many cords are not plugged into an outlet causing a potential fire hazard and/or a tripping hazard.
  • Electrical repairs to cords should be completed correctly.
  • Electrical cords should not be run under carpets- there are special extension cords for this purpose. There are cloth cord sleeves that you slide over the cord to dress it up if you hate to see wires or cords.  This cord sleeve may cords more visible to someone with impaired sight.
  • If there is a remodel, add receptacles.  Double the duplex receptacles all around, especially by the bed because there are never enough receptacles for all the stuff you need to plug in.
  • A hardwired telephone jack and an Ethernet jack since technology will probably rely on an internet connection to work.
  • A keypad for the burglar alarm should be accessible in the bedroom so you can see what’s going on without having to get out of bed.
  • By taking pro-active steps with the electrical and lighting, the bedroom can be a restful, safe place for our seniors.  Take care and please contact me with any questions or comments. 
  • My personal thanks to Art Dunn for helping me with extra electrical and lighting information for this article. Art Dunn has worked in various areas of electronics and electricity for over twenty-three years, and has been both a  license holder and a qualified individual for California burglar alarm and electrical contractor licenses. His employer, NANLOW-DUNN incorporated www.yourhomeservesyou.com, is an authorized dealer for products such as GrandCare and Home Automation Incorporated and is associated with Connect Home. His E-mail is artdunn@yourhomeservesyou.com.

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