Safety is a concern no matter where you live, but for an older person with vision challenges, it can be a matter of life and death.
By the time you’re ready to help plan a move into an assisted living apartment, it may be necessary to adjust the environment to accommodate for physical changes like mobility and vision impairments. When you are getting ready to assist with this transition, talk with the move-in coordinator to see how the community can accommodate the following four improvements.
1. Enhance Lighting
The apartment will likely have adequate lighting in critical areas like the bathroom and the kitchen. You can enhance that further with a few adjustments that improve safety and make the space more comfortable for those with vision challenges. Start by changing the light bulbs. The Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago suggests light bulbs should be between 60 to 100 watts.
Place additional lighting in key areas. You might not know where to put supplemental lighting at first, so consider purchasing clamp-on lights you can move around to get the most benefit from it. Now, add some larger lights in obvious areas like a floor lamp behind a chair used for reading and table lamp on the nightstand next to the bed.
Make sure high traffic areas are well lit at night. This includes the pathway to the bathroom and kitchen. Adding nightlights to the electrical outlets, glow-in-the dark tape or a flashlight next to the bed is all it may take.
2. Control the Glare
Glare becomes a common problem for those with poor vision. Glare occurs because the light is poorly directed. When you have vision problems, even a small reflection can make seeing difficult. Apartments should be organized in a way that helps reduce the glare and improve vision naturally.
- Aim the lighting so it comes from behind. For example, when sitting in a chair to read a book, the light source should shine over the shoulder.
- Switch to bulbs less likely to cause glare, such as incandescent or indoor floodlights.
- Filter natural light with shades and blinds. This puts you in control of the sunlight coming in through the windows and causing glare.
3. Create Better Color Contrast
Creating color contrast adds definition so things are more recognizable, using bright colored tape to mark a pathway to the bathroom or favorite chair, for example. You can use bright markers or even nail polish to help distinguish different appliances or knobs on the remote.
Adding contrasting cushions to the furniture will make the couch stand out, too. Changing the wall color in rooms can help mark the difference between the kitchen and the bathroom.
4. Keep Safety in Mind, Always
A few common sense decisions can further improve on safety measures that have already been taken.
- When placing the furniture, make sure to leave a clear path to all the high traffic areas. There should be nothing to walk around to step over.
- If there are stairs, make sure they are clearly marked and skid proof.
- Tack down any rugs or carpeting.
- Label bottles using the first letter of the item. This is especially important with over the counter medication like pain killers. Reflective stickers can help define the contents of a bottle, too. For prescription drugs taken regularly, use a daily pill sorter or medicine dispenser with bright labels for each day.
- Place slip proof mats in any area that might get wet. There should be a mat inside the bathtub or shower, as well as one on the floor.
- If meals aren’t provided by the community, invest in a microwave for safe and easy cooking.
- Work with the community to have contrasting safety rails installed in the bathroom and on all stairs.
Improved lighting and enhanced safety will help make an assisted living apartment a comfortable home for the senior in your life.