tems so that they feel safe, as well as solutions that can help them
control indoor and outdoor lights, temperature settings, and
even alert family members or authorities of issues or accidents.”
Leading with lighting
Andreas Wojtysiak, senior key expert for light and health at
Osram, said that several subtle and overt changes to the eye
and visual system occur as we age.
“We may experience reduced depth perception and speed
of adaptation, meaning that it takes longer to see in a dark room
when you’ve been in a bright room before,” Wojtysiak said, add-
ing that among other age-related changes, “the very common
need for reading glasses in people 40–50 years old is due to the
reduced elasticity, accumulation of tiny damages, and clouding
and yellowing of the eye lenses, all of which result in a higher
susceptibility to glare from light sources. Our changing vision
also has implications on the way we filter different wavelengths
and synchronize day/night rhythm, whereby more natural day-
light during the day helps to stabilize the sleep/wake rhythm
and alleviate sleep issues.”
“As we age, our lighting systems should provide light of a
cooler color during the day to achieve good vision and sup-
port our circadian rhythm, while reduced light levels
with warmer light colors are more appropriate at night,”
Karen Lee, head of applications marketing at Osram
“As the lens of the eye clouds and yellows over time and
as a function of age-related disease, the amount of illumination needed to perform visual tasks multiplies. By age 60,
we need three times as much light to see as when we were
20,” she said.
She recommends that electrical contractors consider the
following lighting strategies for older customers.
Increase energy-efficient ambient and task lighting in
different rooms in a layered fashion to balance multiple
residents’ needs and save energy in the process.
“Task lighting may be used to add illumination for individuals who need it, while ambient lighting installed on dimmers
can be adjusted according to tasks and occupants,” she said.
“With the yellowing of the lens that comes with age, some
older people may prefer higher CCT light sources, such as
3,500K solutions as opposed to 2,700K incandescent-like or
3,000K halogen-like options,” Lee said.
Because older people are more sensitive to glare, contractors
should suggest well-shielded, diffused sources and luminaires.
According to many research studies, exposure to high levels
of blue-rich light in the morning and avoidance of blue wavelengths in the evenings before sleep is ideal for maintaining
good circadian entrainment.
“As such, it’s advisable to use warmer, red-rich light sources
in evening hours and just before bedtime,” Lee said. “Higher
output light sources may be used in busy areas like breakfast
nooks in the morning, while lower output, warm-color or
amber sources may be used in bedside lamps or light fixtures
that are left on as nightlights.”
Among seniors, injuries caused by slips and falls triggered
by impaired vision, poor balance, and loss of core strength and
mobility become an increasing concern.
However, “research has shown that linear bands of lighting, such as those produced by our LINEARlight FLEX LED
systems, can provide visual cues that help orient and stabilize motion,” Lee said. “Horizontal lines of light can highlight
pathways and corridors, while vertical lines of light around
doorways can assist seniors in standing up from a seated position or getting out of bed in the middle of the night.”
A chair lift, elevator, Wi-Fi-enabled
thermostat or other electrical solution
may be the key to people being
able to stay in their homes.
—Amy Levner, AARP