The Importance of Lighting for Seniors With Dementia

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By the age of 75, the average senior needs twice as much light as the standard recommended amount and almost four times as much light as a 20 year old to see properly. For patients with dementia, lighting is especially important. Dark spots can be menacing and poor contrast can be confusing. Bright, even lighting helps seniors with dementia navigate the world around them and perform daily tasks.

The Importance of Lighting for Seniors With Dementia [infographic]

How Light Affects Dementia Patients

As people age, changes in the retina cause a steady decline the eye’s ability to capture and process light. For seniors with dementia this problem is exacerbated by changes in the brain. When a neurotypical person receives light to the eye, the signal travels to the brain. The signal is then interpreted by different areas of the brain to form a coherent image. In seniors with dementia, this process is disrupted. On top of the typical vision loss due to age, seniors with dementia may have neurological challenges to seeing.

Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementia (ADRD) is affecting a rapidly growing number of people. As the American population ages, ADRD is becoming a major concern. By 2025 it is estimated that 7.1 million Americans over the age of 65 will suffer from ADRD. That is a 40 percent increase from the 5.1 million ADRD patients in 2015. It is clear that designing senior housing facilities with ADRD in mind will be a driving factor in senior health and living in the years to come.

ADRD is characterized by a growing confusion over daily tasks, such as recognizing faces or the time of day. By providing extra lighting, ADRD patients are better able to recognize faces and other familiar sights. By changing lighting with the time of day, seniors with ADRD are better able to regulate their internal clocks.

Unfortunately, many senior care facilities were built with little understanding of the effects of light on ADRD. Many facilities are lit with standard commercial fluorescent lighting. This kind of harsh lighting can create added confusion for seniors with ADRD. It is recommended that the living spaces of patients with ADRD should mimic their prior living spaces, to lessen confusion and create a familiar environment.

A Bold Experiment in Lighting and Design

In Chagrin Falls, Ohio, one senior living program is trying something totally unique. Lantern of Madison’s “Svayus” program features a living space that is built to mimic the world senior with ADRD remember from their youth. Patients with ADRD typically lose many recent memories, but memories from before age 21 seem to remain intact.

The Svayus program is a senior facility built to look like a small town overlooking a golf course. The hallway floor is painted green to mimic grass. As you walk down the hallway, the walls look like the facades of quant 1930s and 1940s houses. Each room has a small porch built in front of it. The ceiling is painted with a blue sky and light fluffy clouds.

This bold experiment is one way that the senior care industry is attempting to rethink its approach to ADRD.

Bringing the Experiment to Senior Homes Everywhere

Not every senior home is built like the Svayus program. Nor can every senior afford to live in such a custom built environment. But the program demonstrates a need for a more natural environment.

It is obvious that commercial fluorescent lighting has nothing to do with the experience of seniors in their youth. The harsh light from unfiltered fluorescent fixtures can cause stress and depression in neurotypical adults. For patients with ADRD the effects are compounded by the disease.

One way to reduce the harmful effects of fluorescent lighting is to install decorative light covers. These covers can reduce harsh glare and even out lighting. That makes it easier for seniors with ADRD to see and has a positive effect on mood. In this case, however, calling the panels decorative is an understatement. These panels are serving as an integral part of the patients’ care.

Bringing the Outdoors Inside

One of our most popular decorative light covers is the blue sky with fluffy white clouds. It creates the impression of a beautiful day, even when you can’t go outside. One of our satisfied customers even told us just that.

“The clouds made the day for our residents that can’t go outside in this cold weather. The smiles were many and relaxation is the key. Just what we needed.”

Caregivers are using Octo Lights decorative light covers to give residents of their facilities something they couldn’t otherwise get: a sense of the outdoors.

Relaxation is Key

Fluorescent light is known to cause anxiety, eye strain, and headaches. By filtering the light through decorative light covers, teachers, doctors, and businesses have all created calmer, more relaxed environments for the people who inhabit their spaces. The value of relaxation for almost any space is paramount. The large selection of Octo Lights decorative light cover images gives customers the flexibility to create any mood. Customers can choose from beach scenes to mountain vistas. For a more unique experience Octo Lights sells images of undersea life and distant nebulae. And if you can’t find exactly what you are looking for, you can upload your own image for a completely customized decorative light cover.

Decorative Light Covers for Any Environment

At Octo Lights, we love hearing about all of the different ways our customers are using their decorative light covers. One use we have heard about is in dental offices. Patients in dental offices spend a lot of time staring at the ceiling. And often the mere thought of dental work can induce undue stress and anxiety. So we are delighted to hear from dentists that they are using our decorative light covers in their offices and seeing great results. They tell us that customers are more relaxed and love the different unique images on the ceiling.

On dentist told us a great story. This dentist was doing something especially creative. They had just opened up a dental office with a space theme. What a great idea! They ordered out astronomy themed decorative light coves and they gave the new office just the finishing touch it needed. No more harsh fluorescent lighting. The patients in this dental office can get a truly out of this world experience.

Another great use case comes from teachers. We love our teachers and love supporting their work. That’s why we are so proud to hear from so many teachers that they are using our decorative light covers. We’ve hear from teacher after teacher that they have installed Octo Lights decorative light covers and their students love them. We have heard about classrooms that feel more relaxed. Other teachers have told us about young children who like to pretend that they are outdoors as they sit beneath a blue sky decorative light cover. Some teachers have told us that the decorative light covers tie in with the themes of their classrooms or schools.

How Will You Use Them

We are always thrilled to hear about the ways in which customers are using their Octo Lights decorative light covers. They can definitely change the feel of a space. So now it’s your turn. Check out our large selection of decorative light covers and find out for yourself how these light covers can change your experience. You can see our customers’ stories here. Ordering is easy and installation is a breeze. So go ahead and try one out today. Just be sure to let us know how you used it. We’d love to hear about it!

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