Tools for Medical Modifications Series: Part 1 of 3
Light to Live By – When disease or aging causes sensory losses, home modifications can be made to allow for independent living. Loss or degradation of Sight, in particular, is distressing but can be overcome or ameliorated by changing and adding to light sources in the home.
Light sources in critical areas such as steps, stairways, entrances, exits hallways and high activity areas need to be examined carefully. Not only the amount of light (lumens) furnished and the color or “temperature” of the light is important, but also the application of the light to surfaces. Often over 100 lumens per SF is specified. For instance a common home modification is adding lights inside entries to a home, in order to offset the outside daytime glare by high lumen lights just inside the exterior home door that are operated by a sensor, to turn on when the door opens. Depending on the individual sight loss problem warmer or redder spectrum lights are more desirable. Surfaces that do not reflect light and therefore cause glare can provide more contrast for a person who has trouble distinguishing objects at a distance. Likewise solid medium intensity color can help provide contrast also. Patterns in wall or floor coverings even with intense lighting can be confusing.
Natural sky lighting is a method used in home modifications to provide good background lighting for the home. This can be supplemented by special lighting in high activity areas or task lighting. Tube type skylights can be inexpensive and easily installed between the roof or ceiling rafters in single story homes.
Lighting can be added in most any location in an existing home by locating the added light above or near an ordinary wall outlet. The wiring can be fished up the wall to the new fixture. Home modifications should always use a qualified Electrician who can check the capacity of the wall outlet circuit to be sure power to handle the new lighting is available.