The Impact of Lighting for Seniors and People with Alzheimer's
The lighting in our homes can make a huge difference to our senior loved ones and research shows that exposure to light can be very beneficial to people with Alzheimer's. It is something many of us don’t even think about until a light bulb burns out and we have to replace it.
Many seniors have deteriorating vision and lighting can make a significant difference in making day to day tasks easier. We receive over 85 percent of our information through our sense of sight. Appropriate lighting, without glare or shadows, can reduce eye fatigue and headaches. It also highlights safety hazards, which reduces the chance of accidents and injuries.
We go to our optical health care professionals to help us see better. We know that light is essential for seeing, but practical lighting guidelines are not usually offered by health care professionals. Vision problems are one of the most frequent reasons why one out of three senior adults fall each year. Falls are a serious problem because they are the leading cause of death from an injury with our senior population.
Good lighting can make the difference between seeing and not seeing for older adults with poor vision and between comfort and discomfort. Caregivers and family members can improve the quality of life of those we love by recommending good lighting to mitigate some of the common problems associated with aging eyes.
The correct lighting helps with the ability to see but also….
Gives you the opportunity to better focus on an object. Fast moving objects are harder to see.
The size of the object. Very small objects are hard to see.
Brightness. Too much or too little reflected light makes objects hard to see.
Contrast between an object and its immediate background. Too little contrast makes it hard to distinguish an object from its background.
Lighting and Alzheimer’s Disease
Individuals with Alzheimer’s disease suffer from the above mentioned vision problems as well as significant deficits in memory, reasoning and safety awareness. Maximizing their ability to see is at least one step that caregivers can have control over. Research has shown that exposure to light can benefit patients with Alzheimer’s disease. Research has also shown that as many as 25 percent of individuals with Alzheimer’s have circadian rhythm disturbances that affect normal rest/awake patterns. This research suggests that these patients will sleep better and have fewer periods of restlessness if their environment has plenty of light. This information is not surprising because light is good for all of us regardless of age, but it appears to be an important for the Alzheimer patient.
Things you can do in the home:
Increase Light Levels
Sufficient light in a room is not just for aesthetic appeal it performs a critical role for those in the room. It also helps with color recognition and makes it easier for elderly people to read, knit and complete tasks. Rooms that are too dark increase the likelihood of trips, falls and injuries.
Add small lights with switches on either end of a hallway for late night trips to the kitchen or bathroom. Many outlets are designed to work with room light switches. Check to make sure table lamps are plugged into the correct outlet so a quick flick of a switch will set the room a glow. Also the use of night lights will help give extra peace of mind to find the light switches during the night.
The only time increasing the light levels can hinder our senior is in the case where the senior has cataracts. They have difficulty seeing in overly bright spaces.
There is a big difference between quantity and quality of illumination. Many older individuals become increasing sensitive to glare. Glare is acutely noticed when a bright object is seen against a dark background. Lighting fixtures without shades and a clear bulb should be avoided.
Contrast sensitivity declines with age and makes it more difficult to recognize and distinguish edges. It is especially important to emphasize the edge of stairs with potential contrasting color in order to decrease the likelihood of missing a step and falling.
Want to learn more about how your loved one might benefit from one-on-one care by a seasoned, professional caregiver? Consult Atlanta's most trusted source for Home Care, Easy Living Services, Inc. We have supported families in their efforts to keep loved ones fulfilled at home since 1994.
Call us today to discuss your specific needs 770-442-8664. We're ready to help.
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