Nighttime and low light can be problematic for both children and older adults. With limited natural lighting, people become much more vulnerable to accidents that can develop into serious medical problems.

For that reason, equipping the house with proper night lights can be an excellent method to overcome or reduce these risks.

Why Listen to Me? As my grandmother’s caregiver, when she had a fall at night in her new assisted living apartment, I had to quickly figure out what caused it and how to prevent another fall in the future! One of the first purchases I made was a nightlight to help illuminate the areas she was walking, mainly the hallway and her bathroom.

Beams MB720 Wireless Nightlight-Excellent value for the money
-Battery-powered
-Has a motion sensor 
-Dim 20-lumen light
View on Amazon
YRWXZYO Warm White Nightlight-Ideal for buyers on a strict budget
-Wall-powered 
-Dusk and dawn sensor for automatic power
View on Amazon
MAZ-TEK Plug-in LED Nightlight-Dimmable module to control light brightness
-Features a dusk to dawn sensor with auto turn-on
-Small, yet LED powerful
View on Amazon

*I may receive commissions for purchases made through links in this article.

Studies show that aging is usually accompanied by sleep disorders and circadian rhythm disturbances. 

These issues negatively affect older adults’ quality of life and health, including irritability, discomfort towards bright lights, sleep fragmentation, and more.

Luckily, nightlights are designed so that they offer soft illumination at wavelengths that don’t disturb the ambiance of nighttime.

Importance of Nightlights for Older Adults and Seniors

Nightlights come with a huge variety of advantages and benefits for older adults. Let’s have a quick look at them:

Facilitates Mobility with Reduced Risks of Falling

Late-night bathroom visits are quite common among seniors due to bladder and toileting issues

Nightlights make it easier for adults to navigate their way around the house while reducing the risk of tripping and falling significantly.

Excellent Safety Precaution During Power Outages

If you live in an area where power outages are common, portable and auto-powered nightlights can be a great way to stay safe and find your way around the house.

Reduces Darkness Anxiety

Nyctophobia, or the fear of darkness, is much more common among adults than you think, with over 10% of American adults suffering from the condition. 

Nightlights can greatly reduce the anxiety associated with complete darkness while sleeping. It also helps those who suffer from claustrophobia, as some people associate complete darkness with confined spaces.

Adds an Aesthetic Appeal to the House

Besides practical benefits, nightlights can also add a touch of elegance and style to your home decor or household and help you highlight decorations without taking up any extra space.

Different Types of Nightlights

Nightlights come in a wide range of shapes and types, depending on their purpose, design, and how they work. Let’s look at the most common lighting options for older adults:

Night Light Design

Standard Bulbs

These are standalone light bulbs screwed into a base that plugs into a wall outlet. The main advantages of these nightlights are portability, reliability, and ease of use. They’re best used to gently illuminate entire rooms.

Standard bulb night light for older adults.

Decorative Nightlights

Decorative nightlights combine form and function, providing illumination and enhancing the aesthetics of a room. Available in a variety of designs for both kids and adults, from intricate stained glass to whimsical shapes.

Decorative nightlights can seamlessly blend with or accentuate any room’s décor. Beyond mere utility, these nightlights are a delightful intersection of art and practicality, catering to both safety needs and visual appeal.

Fixture-Specific Nightlights

These nightlights are installed around certain furniture and outlines to improve the visibility of these specific items. You can use these lights to illuminate objects like:

  • Tables 
  • Toilets
  • Doors
  • Bedrails 
  • Staircases
  • Wallplates

While they massively improve the aesthetics and functionality of illuminated surfaces, they’re limited to these surfaces only and some may require professional installation.

How Do Night Lights Work?

Some night lights work by responding to physical contact, others by responding to physical presence, automatically turning on when someone approaches.

The most sophisticated smart nightlights elevate the game by connecting to home networks, allowing users to control them via smartphones or integrate with home automation systems.

Each type is tailored to specific user preferences and needs, ensuring there’s a nightlight for every scenario.

Touch-Activated Nightlights

Touch-activated nightlights are operated by simply touching or tapping the light. Their main advantage is that they’re widely available and highly affordable. They can be powered by batteries or a wall plug.

These nightlights are also easy for kids to use, but you need to install them in accessible locations so that they’re truly user-friendly.

Motion Sensor Nightlights

As the name suggests, motion sensor night lights are designed so that they light up as soon as they detect motion through their built-in sensors.  They then shut off after a period of inactivity.

These are ideal for older adults because they operate automatically after you set them up, making them perfect for hallways, basements, etc. They’re also ideal for seniors living with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Motion-sensing nightlights used to be expensive, but you can find options at highly affordable prices.

Nightlights on a Timer

Timed nightlights are usually touch-operated nightlights. However, the main difference here is that they turn on and off automatically during a programmed time. 

Some night light bulbs are designed to light up during nighttime and shut off automatically at dawn. 

They’re great for saving electricity and also work well for people living with dementia and/or Alzheimer’s disease.

Remote Control and Smart Nightlights

These are advanced nightlights that offer the ultimate level of adjustability, allowing you to control them using remotes and smartphones. 

Despite their excellent controllability, they can be somewhat complex for older seniors. They’re still somewhat expensive, compared to other options.

Best Locations for Nightlights for Older Adults

You can use nightlights almost anywhere around your room or house. However, if you’re installing them for a loved one, you should prioritize the following locations:

Bathroom

Bathrooms are among the top spots for installing nightlights of all kinds. Bathrooms are a high fall-risk area, some seniors may use the bathroom several times during the night.

Ideally, you should install plug-in night lights in the bathroom along with a toilet nightlight to make it easy to locate at night without having to turn on bright lights.

Kitchen

Kitchens have slippery surfaces and are filled with appliances that require careful handling.

Installing a permanent nightlight in the kitchen allows older adults to easily locate what they need and helps them avoid accidents.

Staircase

Staircases are a huge tripping hazard. Outlining the staircase with permanently lit nightlights allows seniors to safely ascend and descend the staircase with more confidence and security.

Hallway

Hallways are often seen as an unimportant space in the house, so many people underestimate the importance of good lighting there. 

However, since we use hallways more often than we think, adding a motion-sensing light there can be highly convenient for older adults.

Bedroom

When selecting a nightlight for a senior’s bedroom, choose one with the appropriate brightness and hue. Soft, warm glows are generally preferable as they are less disruptive to sleep and more soothing to the eyes.

Consider nightlights with easy-to-use controls and those that automatically adjust based on ambient light.

Outdoors

Whether it’s the backyard or your porch, you should consider installing nightlights with a light sensor or timer. 

This way, you can ensure that they light up automatically when the sun goes down. While buying outdoor nightlights, make sure they’re also durable and weatherproof to withstand the elements.

What to Look for When Buying Nightlights for Older Adults

Buying the right nightlight depends on various aspects and key considerations.

Features you need to consider when buying lighting options for older adults:

Type of Bulb

Nightlights come in various bulb styles. The most popular ones are: LED, incandescent, and electro-luminescent. 

The choice here comes down to your personal preference, but we recommend going for LED lights because they’re incredibly efficient and offer functional brightness levels for seniors.

LED Night Light for Older Adults

Power Source

Nightlights are available in both outlet-powered and battery-powered options. Both of them are good for seniors, but we highly recommend several battery-powered ones as backup power sources during critical electricity outages. 

Nightlights don’t use a lot of electricity, so their batteries typically last for a long time. However, check them regularly and replace the batteries on a regular basis.

Adjustable Brightness and Color Gradient

Light bulb brightness is measured by lumens, and for senior nightlights, you should aim for a rating of 20 to 70 lumens and relatively low wattage (around 3.5 to 8 watts).

Opt for a nightlight that provides sufficient illumination without being overwhelmingly bright. An adjustable brightness feature can be helpful to customize the light based on individual preferences.

Ease of Installation and Maintenance

Make sure that the nightlights you choose are easy to install and maintain. This should include replacing the bulbs as well as the batteries (if they have any).

Additional Features

Besides the basic features, some additional options can be highly worth the investment in seniors’ nightlights:

  • If you’re going for a motion sensor nightlight, pick one with a decent sensing range of around 8 to 10 feet. 
  • If you’re going for a timer-operated nightlight, consider options with adjustable timers and automatic turn-off times.
  • Look for nightlights with extra features, like cool-touch surfaces and UL certification, indicating they meet specific safety standards.
  • Ensure the nightlight is made of quality materials, especially if there’s a risk it might be knocked over or bumped.

Top 5 Nightlight Options for Older Adults

If you’re looking for a decent nightlight for adults and seniors, here’s a quick list of our top recommendations:

If you’re looking for an overall great option, we highly recommend Beams MB720 Wireless Nightlight as it strikes an excellent balance between high functionality and a good price.

Beams MB720 Wireless Nightlight

  • Excellent value for the money
  • Battery-powered
  • Has a motion sensor 
  • Dim 20-lumen light

YRWXZYO Warm White Nightlight

  • Ideal for buyers on a strict budget
  • Wall-powered 
  • Dusk-to-dawn sensor for automatic power

MAZ-TEK Plug-in LED Nightlight

  • Dimmable module to control light brightness
  • Features a dusk to dawn sensor with auto turn-on

DAZZY DOT Mini Battery Powered Nightlight

  • A portable option that you can use anywhere
  • The warm white light doesn’t disturb the ambiance while maintaining good visibility 

LOHAS Plug-in Night Light

  • Excellent brightness and warmth adjustability
  • Plug-in light with excellent energy efficiency to save on energy bills

In Summary

Personal safety and well-being should be behind every purchase aspect of aging in place, and for older adults, the importance of nightlights cannot be overstated. These modest, often overlooked accessories not only prevent potential accidents but also offer psychological comfort against the daunting shadows of the night.

Whether it’s for the relief from anxiety or for the aesthetic appeal they bring, nightlights are more than just a source of illumination; they are beacons of security in the darkness.

As you make decisions about nightlights, always prioritize the individual needs of the older adult and choose options that enhance their quality of life. These lights guide the way and ensure our loved ones are safeguarded against the unseen risks of the dark.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are Nightlights Safe for Older Adults?

The short answer to this question is yes. Nightlights provide excellent safety precautions for seniors to reduce the risk of falls and nighttime accidents.  They can greatly improve older adults’ quality of life by improving sleep quality and their ability to rest and move around safely at night.

How Much Do Nightlights Cost?

Nightlights are quite affordable, whether it’s their initial price, battery replacement, or energy consumption. A typical set of LED nightlights can cost you anywhere between $10 to $50, depending on their power, quality, and features. Modern LED technologies are also significantly more efficient than older alternatives, so they save you more money in the long run. 

An expert in senior care, Amie has professional and personal experience in senior housing, caregiving, end-of-life care, and more from her 24 years of working with older adults.