Light is too often taken for granted. Good lighting in the home, and ample exposure to light, can boost mood, improve health, and help avoid accidents such as falls.
Here are five overlooked aspects of lighting by family caregivers:
Not replacing burned out lightbulbs. Younger eyes may adjust to a newly darkened corner for the days or weeks it can take to get around to changing a bulb, but your older loved one will suffer.
Not paying attention to night lighting. At night, an illuminated path to the bathroom, and a low-watt nightlight there, will help your loved one minimize the risk of falling.
Buying in to the argument that light is "bad for my eyes." Many older adults want the curtains drawn and the lights low, complaining of sensitive eyesight, claiming privacy concerns, or simply feeling more secure in a dark, cave-like coziness. A need for utter darkness is rarely a medical reality, though. In fact, lack of natural light can lead to depression and vitamin D deficiency -- not to mention making you feel more depressed yourself. Some research has shown that exposure to light, on the other hand, may slow cognitive decline and the loss of functional ability.
Getting into power struggles over lighting. Lighting is important enough to make it nonnegotiable. If it's your home, make good lighting and lots of natural light a given. Let your loved one keep his or her own room dark if preferred, but insist that the rest of the house be bright and airy.
Not bringing persistent complaints to an ophthalmologist. If your loved one complains about bright light consistently, have an eye exam to rule out or treat any possible problems.