By Stuart MacMillan, CSA, CAPS
(Second in a Series)
In my last post I discussed some free and low cost things you could do to be safer and more comfortable in your home as you age in place.
Now let’s look at some things that might cost a few dollars, but can make a huge difference in your safety and comfort. In particular electrical and lighting modifications, since these give you the most “bang for the buck.”
First, if you have any outlets or switches that don’t work properly, that spark, buzz, or are discolored from heat, get them fixed by a professional electrician. Don’t ignore these seemingly minor annoyances because they can cause serious problems. Village-vetted licensed electrician referrals are available from the Village office staff. A visit to fix a few outlets or switches shouldn’t cost more than $100 to $200, and will be money well spent.
Next, are light switches where you need them? Are switches on stairways visible at night? Is your entry adequately lit? If not, the electrician can install new lighting as well as install lighted switches where you need them.
While the electrician is there, have him or her inspect your electrical service panel. Glass fuse systems are unsafe because improper fuses (or even nickels!) can be easily installed to prevent frequent blown fuses, and these panels simply can’t handle the demands of modern living with all our appliances.
There are also some unsafe brands of circuit breakers, installed until the 1980’s, that can fail to trip and cause fires. For more information on this see http://www.ismypanelsafe.com/. Panel replacement will cost a few thousand dollars, but it could save your home, or even your life.
Last, changes in vision as we age are a part of the process. Sensitivity to glare can be a particularly serious problem. There are lighting professionals (some even specialize in working with sight-impaired seniors) that can evaluate your situation and minimize glare by creating appropriate lighting during both the day and the night. The improvement can be stunning, and the costs are reasonable.
This evaluation includes recommending lighting fixtures and their placement, bulb type, color temperature and wattage, paint color, surface reflection, appropriate use of shades and curtains, and more. Given all the choices now in energy efficient CFL and LED light bulbs, combined with the elimination of 60 and 100 watt incandescent bulbs, we could all benefit from a lighting consultation!
In my next post, I’ll discuss more extensive home modifications for aging in place, including accessibility for the disabled, and I’ll begin a discussion of major remodeling options that will be discussed in more detail in future posts.
Here’s to your continued successful aging in place!