Before we get into the “Best Night Lights For Seniors”, imagine for a moment that a busy day with the grandkids is over. It was great fun but now your house is back to its normal calm. Before settling in, you decide to check if the front door is locked.
The light switch is a few steps away but no problem, you have lived in this house for over 30 years and could almost walk through it with your eyes closed. At that point, your wife hears a loud, nearly blood-curdling scream! You lift your foot from the pain, nearly trip, and luckily grab the handrail at the very top of the staircase. It is then that you look down to see a plastic toy that one of the grandkids left behind that almost caused a serious tumble or worse.
Better lighting may have reduced this risk of a very bad and life-threatening fall. Sometimes it is a matter of having a little better lighting from a dawn sensor or motion sensor light, to help you find your way to the light switch. A little strategic thinking to come up with a good lighting plan with safety in mind can go a long way in keeping you safe and help to prevent falls in the home.
Different Types of Night Lights
It is really amazing the variety of night lights that are available today. Not only does this help to strategically place the lights where they can do you the most good but you can also do it in style.
There are two main power considerations when choosing your night lights.
Power: battery operated, plug-in
The advantage of having a plug-in night light is the convenience of not needing to replace batteries. But battery-operated night lights that use aaa batteries or aa batteries can be placed in areas where a light socket is not available and are also a great help if there is a power outage. These are also handy to have and stick up in closets, in drawers, under cabinets and along stairs.
Many automatically turn on so that you do not have to worry about it. Also, and auto shut-off helps to conserve energy too!
Activation and usage: dusk to dawn light sensor, motion sensor, flip switch
Some night lights come with special features.
Special Features: dimmable brightness control, from white light to a variety of colors
The variety of available colors are amazing! In particular, the popularity of amber lights is strong because of their calming and tranquil effects. According to the sleep advisor, the best color for a night light to not disturb your circadian rhythm is red.
You do not need a handyman to install these lights either.
Placements: tabletop, electrical outlet, magnets, adhesive strip, built-in
Wherever you need extra lighting there is a way to place it exactly where you need it most. If there is no electrical outlet nearby, not a problem, because you can get lights placed anywhere with adhesive or magnetic backing.
What Is a Built-In Night Light?
Most night lights plug directly into an electrical outlet or are battery operated and can be stuck with adhesive or magnetized backing almost anywhere. There are also night lights that are “built-in” into electrical outlets or light switches. They look like standard switch covers or electrical outlets but they emit a soft light with their tiny LED bulbs hidden along one edge. These lights turn on when it gets dark and provide a warm glowing light until the day. One nice thing about these is that they do not tie up one of your outlets in order to provide a little extra glow.
SnapPower GuideLight Night Light
SnapPower SwitchLight with Built-in LED Night Light
How Do You Install a Built-In Night Light?
Cut the power at the electrical box. Then unscrew and remove the old cover plate. Using an included tool it simply snaps with no wiring or batteries required. Screw the new cover in place and turn the power back on. It is as simple as that!
Styles: art deco, modern, minimalistic, sports, nature, children themes, and even projector night lights are available
They come in styles that will complement the aesthetic of your room’s decor.
Where to Place Night Lights
As you think this through for your particular needs and home floor layout situation, consider these important points:
- Are stairways well lit? (Top, Bottom, and Along the Stairs)
- Where are the emergency equipment like fire extinguishers located? Is that area safely lit?
- Can the emergency exits be found even during a power outage or fire?
- Ensure that the often-used nightly traffic patterns to the refrigerator and bathroom have proper illumination.
- Are the light switches easily found or would a built-in cover be helpful?
- Are there switches often used at night that can only be reached by crossing a darkened room?
When you think about these important questions, do not consider them from the standpoint of our character in the story above who was confident because he lived in the home for “over 30 years”. Overconfidence is rarely a good thing!
Other placement considerations:
- Lighting needs during a fire or power outage
- An overnight guest or new caretaker that is unfamiliar with your home
Rounding Out Your Senior Lighting Strategy
What are smart homes?
A smart home is an automated home where some tasks are completed by the use of technology. For instance, a smart home can adjust the thermostat, choose and play music, lock a door and turn on and off lights. These chores are programmed and accessible through a mobile app or can be voice-activated as well. We recommend the voice-activated lights for seniors as part of an overall lighting strategy. They are very convenient and can also help a senior that has mobility challenges or is temporarily on the mend from a surgery. The disadvantages are that they are dependent on electrical service. This is where battery-activated night lights come in handy. Another possible downside would be when it is used to light the way through a darkened bedroom because the voice activation could be a disturbance to others.
Echo Dot Smart Speaker with Alexa
Alexa Smart Light Bulbs
Be Prepared for Power Outages
We recommend that some of your night lights be battery powered so that they can be useful to seniors in the event of a power outage. Also, keep a battery-powered flashlight or headband light (see image below) handy in a nearby drawer at the bedside. A good working flashlight is fine but a hands-free headband flashlight is great for elderly people especially if they walk with a cane or walker which allows them to free up their hands.
Final pointers for lighting improvements
To not disturb bedtime sleep by lighting a bedroom directly. Have a bedside lamp on a nightstand, preferably activated by touch, at the ready to safely illuminate the way at night.
Using a combination of plug-in, battery operated and built-in night lights would be the best approach to aid seniors at night and also during possible emergency situations.
Consider the role that a rechargeable battery can play for your battery-operated night light strategy and the long-term savings they can provide.