It’s not easy to get from the car to the front door and into the house without the help of exterior lighting. We’ve all been there – standing at the door in the dark fumbling for the house key and then struggling to fit the key into the doorknob. Now imagine yourself in that scenario as an older adult with mobility issues and deteriorating eyesight. You can see why exterior lights are a critical component of the aging-in-place home.
When you’re planning an aging-in-place renovation, remember that outdoor areas like entryways, walkways, decks, and driveways are notorious for slips and falls as your parent goes in and out of the house. And at night, those risks increase.
Focus on Adding Light to Four Main Exterior Spaces for Maximum Safety
When I work with my clients to renovate or build any aging-in-place home, I make sure that, at a minimum, there’s bright light across four main exterior areas: all entryways, the driveway, all walkways, and the deck or patio. Each house is different so you’ll need to assess your specific home’s needs.
In this article, I’ll share tips for brightening up these four primary exterior spaces and direct you to some of my go-to exterior lighting for aging-in-place remodels.
Choosing the Best Exterior Lighting for Aging in Place
Aging-in-place entryways need bright light. Just like in the scenario I described up top, your parent shouldn’t have to struggle to find the right key to unlock the door.
Pro Tip: Replace your entryway doorknob and deadbolt with a smart lock. Smart home technology has a ton of benefits for older adults who want to live longer in their homes. An entryway door that unlocks with your smartphone or the sound of your voice lets your parent enter their home easier and get inside faster – no key fumbling required.
Here are a few of my favorite entryway lights for an aging-in-place home.
This wall sconce from Lamomo is one of my go-to exterior aging-in-place lights. It’s great for a lot of reasons, with a big one being its dusk-to-dawn feature.
I prefer entryway lights with dusk to dawn photocells. With a photocell, the light fixture recognizes light and dark, turning itself on when the sun goes down and back off when the sun rises. This feature is perfect for aging-in-place design. Your parent doesn’t need to remember to turn the outside lights on before they leave the house and the light is always on when they arrive home at night.
The second reason this exterior sconce makes the list is its high lumen output at 750 lm. Aging-in-place entryways need a lot of light and this LED sconce delivers. This is an all-around great light that can handle harsh weather, is easy to install and will add some serious light to your parent’s entryway.
A pair of these dusk-to-dawn exterior sconces from Hykolity will pour light onto each entryway. Its clear glass shade emits maximum light to flood the doorway and make the knob easy to see. Other reasons I like this particular sconce is that it’s easy to install, takes energy-efficient LED bulbs and can handle uncovered outdoor locations exposed to rain.
If you prefer a sconce without a glass shade or are looking for an exterior light that fits a modern farmhouse style look, Hykolity also makes a great metal lantern option. These matte black exterior wall lanterns also include a photocell so your parent is never left out in the dark. What I like about these metal sconces in particular is the amount of light they cast despite having an opaque shade. These sconces give you the desirable farmhouse style in a matte shade without sacrificing the amount of light they emit to illuminate the entryway.
For me, driveway lights equal flood lights. An exterior light with the power to easily cast light across your entire driveway is exactly what older adults need to safely navigate from the car to the front door at night.
Driveway flood lights should either be motion-activated or stay on throughout the night. You want the driveway to be as bright as possible when your parent arrives home in the dark.
Here are a few of the driveway lights I suggest to my clients and aging-in-place DIYers.
This motion sensor outdoor flood light is extremely sensitive with a 72-foot sensing range – a much wider range than other similar lights. What’s great about this light is its flexibility. You can adjust each light head to place light where you need it. The light fixture is waterproof and durable. And, with bulbs that have a lifespan of up to 50,000 hours, your parent won’t have to worry about changing out the bulbs anytime soon.
If you’re looking for a super bright, all-around powerful flood light for your driveway, the Glorious-Light flood light is the one. At 10,000 lumens, it’s bright light works wonders for lighting up a long driveway in a dark area, like tree-covered properties or homes tucked away from street lights. Despite its strength, the light won’t wreak havoc on your energy bill and provides up to a 30,000-hour lifespan.
If you’re looking for lights that stay lit throughout the night rather than a motion-sensor flood light, look for a set of spotlights. Together, these solar spotlights from Litron will cast a good amount of light in the direction they point and continue to light the driveway for 6-12 hours depending on whether you set them to low mode or high mode. Either way, these lights turn on automatically at night so your parent has one less thing they need to remember.
Walkways are notoriously dangerous for older adults as they age. Older eyes simply don’t see well at night and walkways are often poorly lit and lay in the shadows between other exterior lights and the house.
Luckily, dedicated lights that line each pathway are an easy, inexpensive fix. Look for ones with a dusk to dawn feature so your parent doesn’t have to remember to turn them on each night. There’s no excuse not to add a few this weekend and make an instant upgrade to the safety of your parent’s home.
Here are a few of my favorite walkway lights that will add a significant amount of brightness along the exterior paths of every aging-in-place home.
These walkway lights from Solpex pretty much have it all when it comes to aging-in-place design. First, they use cool white light which is better for aging eyes. As our eyes age, we tend to get a yellow film over our lens. Added cool white light is perceived as brighter and therefore safer as we age.
They use LED bulbs which last longer than traditional bulbs so your parent won’t have to worry about replacements as often. They’re also solar-powered giving you 8-10 hours of light at night. And, they’re weatherproof, snow proof and easy to install. These lights are an all-around great choice for any aging-in-place home.
These ground lights from Dekugga are an excellent choice if you’re concerned with other walkway lights creating a tripping hazard. They sit flush to the ground and won’t exceed the height of the grass. They’re also a great choice for their size – at 4.6-inches wide, they’re wider and cast more light than most other ground lights.
If your parent’s pathways are lined by gardens or shrubs, a short light that sits at ground level may create shadows. As our eyes age, it gets harder to distinguish contrast, making a walkway covered in shadows almost as dangerous as one that’s completely dark. These solar lights from Sunnest extend more than 14-inches off the ground, making them a great choice for gardens so light reaches above shrubs and fully onto the walkway.
Deck or Patio
When your parent is aging-in-place, encouraging them to get outside and into the fresh air is beneficial to both their physical and mental health. By brightening up a deck or patio, you’ll make it safer for them to enjoy the outdoors.
When you’re shopping for deck and patio lights, focus on adding light around the perimeter of the deck, minimizing any shadows that may cover portions of the flooring. Keep lights off the ground so they don’t become tripping hazards.
Here are a few of my favorite deck and patio lights that will safely light up your parent’s outside space.
String lights are everywhere right now. They’re an easy and inexpensive way to transform a standard deck into an inviting entertaining space. But they’re also a surprisingly effective tool when you’re adding light to your aging parent’s deck or patio.
As their name suggests, string lights are strung from a deck ceiling or railing and, therefore, sit off the ground. Whether you string them around the perimeter of your deck or overhead from one corner of your patio to another, they cast a continuous strand of light that can add a significant amount of brightness across your entire outdoor space.
These string lights from Lakumu are waterproof, shatterproof and include LED bulbs – all features that help these lights last. The bulbs are also dimmable so your parent can adjust the brightness of the light so their eyes stay comfortable.
Deck lights get mounted under a railing or along a railing post to illuminate the perimeter of a deck. You can place them on the inside or outside of the railing. For the aging-in-place home, I like to place deck lights on the inside of the deck with light pointed in to brighten up the deck floor.
These deck lights from Solpex are solar powered so, like the other solar lights we’ve discussed, they turn on automatically at night after charging in the sun throughout the day.
If your aging-in-place home has a deck or patio with any type of staircase, make sure you add a good amount of light to each step. The brighter the better.
I add exterior stair lights in every aging-in-place home I build for my clients and these lights from Cloudy Bay are a great option. Unlike many similar products that sit on top of the step – a possible tripping hazard – these lights fit flush into the front face of each step lighting the way down. They use LED bulbs and come in two different finishes to better match your deck. They’re also dimmable and therefore easier on aging eyes.
What’s notable about these step lights, in particular, is the way they cast light down rather than straight out across the entire step. By casting light straight down, they reduce the glare on each step that follows. When you’re designing for aging in place, glare should always be avoided and these lights do the job.
Don’t let the fact that these step lights are installed into the staircase intimidate you. Even if you’re a DIY novice, they’re easy to install. For outdoor steps, you’ll want to add a line of caulk around the edge to give the light a water-tight seal.
Brighten Up the Exterior of Your Aging-in-Place Home in as Little as a Weekend
Of all the aging-in-place projects I share with DIYers, adding exterior lights is perhaps the easiest project you can tackle. It’s also one of the most important. Spend this weekend adding these exterior lights to your parent’s yard and you’ll see what an instant upgrade you can make to the safety of their home and their ability to age in place.
As always, use the comments section below to send any questions my way. I’m here and ready to help.
Good luck with your next aging-in-place home project!