Last week our Principals, Adam Fromme and Emily Valentine, presented at the 2018 Southeastern Association of Area Agencies on Aging (SE4A.org). Both were excited to discuss some of their recent research. Below is a summary of Emily’s presentation.
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Lighting’s Influence on Older Adults
Emily’s presentation explained types of lighting and common problems from inadequate lighting, introduced a case study of lighting research with older adults, and how lighting can be improved. Frequently, light levels in senior living and LTC are too low for older adults’ needs. This results in falls, poor sleep, and even decreased mood. Conversely, when lighting isn’t diffused well, issues of glare are also created. By integrating older adults into the decision-making process, lighting can be applied and adjusted to be more suitable for the needs of the aging eye.
Emily provided four considerations to improve the way lighting is used in spaces for older adults.
- Provide functional support through lighting by creating a even distribution of light. Older adults are most concerned with being supported to complete a task or activity. Adequate and balanced lighting is best created with general, task, and accent light that is adjusted based on the space’s purpose.This may require more task lighting or focused lighting on surfaces so games, reading, or table-top activities are easier to see.
- Avoid using direct downward lighting, which can cause glare and be harsh. Exposed bulbs, whether in decorative fixtures or recessed into the ceiling, can become painful to older adults, especially when they’re seated. Diffuse downlights with shades or filters to reduce glare and spread the light more evenly. This can also help reduce shadows.
- Be aware of how CFL (compact fluorescent) or LED lamps can seem to be different brightnesses and produce their light differently. CFLs produce a rounded shape of light, but LED light takes a more cone-like form (see image below). This difference can cause new shadows, which can be disorienting and uncomfortable.
- Use lighting to establish moods based on intended activity of the space. Soft, warm-colored light can establish quiet, cozy spaces while brighter, cooler light brings energy.