Home Design RI-MA: Aging in Place (Lighting and Entries)

Home Design RI MA-Aging in Place With Grace

This is the second part of a three part series on home remodeling projects in Rhode Island and Massachusetts for seniors and disabled persons. As our population ages and people continue to live longer, barriers associated with aging in place with grace will affect more and more people. This column will focus on modifications and upgrades having to do with lighting and entries.


Lighting is an important consideration for someone who may be visually impaired, have limited mobility etc.

  • All switches and outlets should be placed waist high, so they are accessible from a wheelchair and do not require that a person standing bend over to reach them. Thermostats and central vacuum ports can be handled in the same manner.
  • Outlets should be placed on both front and sides of counters- never on the wall above counters and never in corners.
  • Use doorbells with interior flashing lights for the hearing impaired.
  • Install light fixtures in areas that occupants most often use (task lighting). Use wall or ceiling type fixtures and provide outlets for lamps. Fixtures should be rated to accept higher wattage bulbs, or use fixtures that accept more than one bulb.
  • Purchase remote controls for lamps or overhead lights. A control panel can be installed to enable the handicapped resident to operate lights and switches from one location.
  • Each room should have a light switch easily accessible upon entering, with a built in LED light for ease in locating.
  • Switches with indicator lights tell the occupant if lights have been left on in a closed room, basement, etc.
  • Hardwired smoke detectors, along with special wall receptacles that become active when the alarm goes off, are a must.


  • Install railings on steps, landings, porches, etc. Whenever possible, the object to be grasped, i.e. a railing or door handle, should be a color that contrasts to its framework or background.
  • Full glass doors allow an abundance of natural light. Some door manufacturers offer custom shades or blinds for privacy.
  • Peepholes and slide locks with chains are security options that can be added at minimal costs. Make sure that they are height appropriate.
  • Mail slots are a nice feature that simplify mail delivery (contact your local post office for guidance as to proper size). This is especially appreciated in inclement weather.
  • Installing a shelf or placing a table near the interior and exterior entrances, creates a spot to put packages when coming and going.
  • Use easy to grasp lever handles on both exterior and interior doors.
  • Reduce or eliminate the entrance threshold, making a smooth transition between the interior and exterior.

Call Energy Geeks at 401-766-1540 or 508 444-9800 or fill out a form on this website and let Ed Beauchemin show you how to “age in place with grace”.

Energy Geeks Aging In Place post signatureDesign Tip: When designing a new home, consider 36” width interior doors. This allows someone in a wheelchair easy access to all rooms. Also create hallways wider than the standard 36” width. Forty two inches is ideal.

Serving Rhode Island and Massachusetts