Imagine having stiff joints and eyesight that isn’t like it used to be and not enough light to help you as you go about your day. This simple scenario speaks to a lot of the problems older people have to cope with on a daily basis, and it is easy to see that quality lighting does nothing but help. But how does it help? According to a research study, Therapeutic Lighting Design for the Elderly, which examined building design and the impact of lighting for senior residencies, the better the quality of lighting, the better the quality of life. These are just four of the many ways seniors can benefit from quality lighting:
1) Seeing Better
As people age, their eyesight has a tendency to deteriorate (presbyopia), according to the National Eye Institute. Unfortunately, most people experience the effects of presbyopia in middle age requiring them to wear reading glasses because it becomes more and more difficult to see small print. Aside from this common disorder, seniors have more of a chance to acquire certain illnesses that can pose more serious visual problems like cataracts, macular degeneration, glaucoma, and diabetic retinopathy. Quality lighting can help by how well it illuminates the senior’s environment. For example, the ability to distinguish the fine differences between shades of colors is directly related to how well the eye function as it ages. And sometimes, recognizing the correct color of an object makes the difference in finding what is being looked for, and overlooking it completely. Bright, harsh light can wash out a color, and dim lighting can darken the perception of color. The correct lighting, which takes into account how the aging eyes interpret color, allows the senior to identify objects better and quicker.
2) Avoiding Injury
Having stiff joints and other issues that reduce mobility, along with a greater fragility of the body, increases the negative consequences of falling. Tripping on something as innocuous as a curled edge of a rug can be life-threatening to a senior who lives alone. In fact, the National Institute of Health says unexpected falls from tripping on damaged carpets and unsecured rugs is the leading cause of unintentional injury for people 65 or older. With quality lightening, an elderly person is more likely to notice and avoid obstacles that could cause them to fall. Avoiding injury also means that medical bills are avoided along with the avoidance of more complicated health issues like a broken hip.
3) Better Sleep
According to a study about sleep duration in the elderly by da Silva et al., elderly people who sleep too long or for too short of a period of time have higher mortality rates. Light therapy helps seniors who experience problems falling asleep and staying asleep for the proper length of time, maintain good health and avoid daytime agitation. A healthy sleep/wake cycle is what ensures seniors are active during the day and sleepy at bedtime.
4) Better Mood
Seniors often cope with depression because of the loss of friends and families, and reduced activity due to mobility issues among other reasons. But quality lighting is known to improve depressed people’s disposition and even the disposition of those suffering from dementia. There have been many forms of light therapy validated over the years by the scientific community. Just like younger people, senior’s mood state can be affected by the change in seasons and light therapy can improve the depressed mood state.