Best flashlights for the elderly
Keep it simple: K.I.S.S.
I am convinced that it is essential to have a reliable flashlight nearby, for everyone. Not just for power outages, but for general tasks around the house as well! Once you get accustomed to using a flashlight around the house, it is more likely you will be able to use it when it is most needed, like during emergencies or power outages. And this is especially true for the elderly.
Points of consideration (food for thought)
- Must be reliable (should withstand a drop and should be able to run till the batteries are dead)
- Runs of ready-to-use batteries (alkaline batteries might be good here. no 18650 lithium-ion batteries unless built into the flashlight, and have a charging dock or other easy charge solution)
- Simple user interface (on/off, or High-Low-Off)
- 1 Button/switch (no twist, rotating ring, 2 button use, LCD screen, Bluetooth app, etc.)
- Fewest modes as possible ( 1 to 3 modes are ideal)
- Shouldn’t be too bright (high-powered flashlights can cause fire and skin burns)
- No special modes that can accidentally be activated (no strobe, SOS, or other hidden modes)
- No electronic lock-out (this is a common feature with flashlights that have an electronic side switch. Once this lock-out is activated, the person can think the batteries are empty, or the torch is broken. It could also leave them in the dark….when it is least desirable)
- Should have a decent size (depending on the place the flashlight is going to be stored. But generally speaking, a larger flashlight is preferable over a small pocketable one. Smaller ones get lost easier)
- Available with a flashlight stand or a flashlight holder (flashlight holder like a wall mount (brackets), so the flashlight is always in the SAME PLACE. The keyword is the SAME PLACE. Very important for people who lose things quickly or have memory problems.
This flashlight stand could be a charging dock, as long as it is challenging enough to take the light apart to ‘replace’ the batteries by the elderly person)
- No electronic switches (not only because you never know how fast they discharge the batteries in the standby mode, but it also usually indicates the User Interface has more options than needed for an older person. This is the case in probably 90% of lights with an electronic switch.)
- 2 is 1, 1 is none (If you don’t want to get a large flashlight, get multiple smaller lights and put them in easy-to-find places, or even make flashlight stands for them!)
- Add some glue (or thread locker) (for the person’s safety, you could glue the tailcap if the light has a battery built-in. This way, you protect the flashlight from being opened and replaced with the wrong battery or the battery inserted incorrectly)
- Get a colorful one, or you could remove the anodizing (most flashlights are only available in black. In that case, you could take the flashlight apart and de-anodize it with sandpaper. You could also do it with chemicals like Sodium hydroxide – AKA caustic soda, but you need to be very, very careful doing that)
- Glow in the dark stickers or paint (how easy is it to locate the flashlight when the lights suddenly go out? In most cases, not easy. I even use glow-in-the-dark stickers on my flashlights! Also, look at Turbo Glow products.. These are pretty new and even brighter and longer-lasting than regular glow-in-the-dark products.
- Or use trits (tritium vials look a lot like glow-in-the-dark, but it can glow for 15 years without a recharge. You could add that to the flashlight itself as a locator. A con of trits is that they are expensive, and I have never seen a place where you can safely dispose of them)
- Add a paracord, or lanyard (especially if it is colorful)
Recommended Simple flashlights
I would suggest trying to see if there is already a flashlight around the house. If there is an incandescent flashlight, you can replace the bulb with a LED PR bulb drop-in. I mentioned quite a few on the Maglite LED upgrade page.
I don’t think you should ever consider buying a lithium-powered flashlight from eBay to give to an older person! Instead, I would recommend staying away from lithium-powered flashlights that have cells that need to be charged outside the flashlight.
In some cases, flashlights with built-in lithium batteries could be okay, as long as there is NO way to open the flashlight or mistake the lithium batteries for ordinary disposable batteries.
During my research for simple flashlights for the elderly, I found out this is a daunting task. The amount of “simple flashlights” is limited. Only the Maglite falls in the easy-to-use, easy-to-locate flashlights for the aged.
Sorry flashlight enthusiasts, but Maglites are still the way to go for many people.
The good old 3D-6D Maglites still have something to be said for them, especially the older version with drop-in bulbs… They are straightforward to use and rugged. The good thing about these older lights is that you can replace the bulb with a LED drop-in, as I mentioned earlier. You can even buy a replacement LED bulb and put one in the tailcap as a spare. I believe the newer version has the LED built-in, and if they fail, you can’t easily replace the LED! But even those are still great for the elderly because of the reasons I mentioned above.
- No lithium batteries
- There are no electronics inside the flashlight, so it reduces the number of parts that can fail.
- It has the most straightforward user interface ever: Click for On and click for Off.
- It only has 1 switch.
- There are no strobes or other “hidden” modes that can cause problems
- You can use disposable batteries. I know some people who throw away rechargeable batteries or try to charge Alkaline batteries! Keep this in mind.
- The Maglites are large and make it more difficult to “forget” or “lose.”
- There are wall mounts available to quickly locate the flashlight at all times (There are even wall charge systems)
- They are available in all kinds of colors, making them easier to locate when they go missing. (except for the rechargeables, which are only available in black)
Maglite flashlights (non-led).
You can upgrade them to LED pr bulbs for cheap and keep some LED upgrades as spares.
LED Maglite flashlights.
The only negative about them is that you can’t change or upgrade the LED easily.
Maglite Wall Mounting Brackets!
Can be used with other lights as well!!! Very handy.
Replacement bulbs, not only for Maglite but for all kinds of lights that use normal incandescent bulbs. Can be had for $2 – $10 a piece.
Rechargeable Maglite ML150LR(X)
The following flashlights are not recommended: rechargeable flashlights for the elderly.
To finish this page, I’d like to take the time to go over a few flashlights I wouldn’t recommend. There are a few other lights made by Nebo (Nebo Redline RC 6392) that seem to have a charging dock, but I wouldn’t recommend them with the many modes and strobe function. It can startle the person and make the situation even worse.
Stay away from the following:
Other flashlights with charging docks that I would not recommend to aged people, who tend to have more difficulty memorizing (new) things, are:
- Fenix RC20
- Reason: It has 2 switches and 2 operating modes…. Fail.. 1 Switch for off-on, the other to change modes. A long-press is strobe mode -just a bad UI for older people.
- Olight S30R baton III / Olight S1R baton / Olight M2R PRO Warrior
- Reason: It has too many modes, with a UI that includes a long-press, etc.. you don’t want that for them. This kind of user interface is too complicated.
- Olight R50 Pro Seeker
- Reason: One of the main reasons is the “Electronic Lockout”. When you press and hold the switch for 2 seconds, the Olight will turn into Electronic Lockout mode. This is a significant problem for older people. And on top of that, it is too bright when accidentally switching to Turbo mode. Great for the average flashlight freak, not so much for the elderly.
- Olight i7R
- Reason: It is too small and therefore too easy to lose.
- Nitecore R25
- Reason: It has 2 switches that may complicate things. Plus, it has a “Strobe switch,” which you don’t want for an elderly person to get activated by accident.
- Streamlight 74395 Strion LED HL
- Reason: It has an extra rechargeable Lithium-Ion battery outside the flashlight, which can be mistaken for a different battery, and you don’t know what will happen to that.