Seniors are the fastest growing demographic in the United States and are estimated to increase from 13% of the population to 19% by 2030. With 40% of the population expected to be over age 55 by 2025, it is important to ensure a better quality of life in assisted living and nursing facilities for seniors through the use of light emitting diode (LED) lamps partnered with sensors and dimmers.
Lighting Choices Affect Health and Impact Seniors in Particular
There are certain parts of aging that demand a type of lighting that will help seniors’ vision and ensure their safety and comfort.
- Aging eyes suffer losses of vision:
- Pupils become smaller so that less light reaches the back of the eyes and vision is reduced.
- Lenses thicken, lose elasticity and scatter more light, which reduces contrast and the sharpness of visible objects.
- Lenses gradually become more yellow, which causes colors to be distorted and less vivid. Blues, greens and violets become difficult to distinguish, and blue may appear as grey.
- Eye problems such as macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy become more common.
- Patients with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia have a special need for good lighting to improve the visibility of their surroundings.
- Between 40% and 70% of seniors suffer from some degree of insomnia, and poor artificial lighting worsens the problem:
- The glare of overhead lights turned on during nurses’ night shifts can disturb residents.
- Constant overhead lighting in residences can cause sleeping problems.
- Some seniors often wake at night because they have to use the bathroom and the trip can be hazardous without good lighting.
- The problem of insomnia is linked to a disruption in the perception of the 24-hour cycle of sunlight/daylight, which confuses the body’s biological rhythms.
- The body’s melatonin secretion, which signals the time to sleep, is disrupted by too little natural light or too much light at the wrong time of day, which can occur with poor artificial lighting.
- Depression is common and poor lighting adds to depression:
- Sunlight/daylight is crucial to human well-being and happiness, and there is a reduced exposure to daylight in nursing homes and residences and fewer opportunities to go outdoors.
- Some types of depression can be linked to seasonal affective disorder (SAD) associated with a lack of light, and requires the treatment of light therapy.
LEDs Provide the Lighting Needed in Assisted Living Facilities
Not only does energy-efficient LED indoor lighting dramatically save electricity costs for owners of residences and nursing homes, but also their use can be entirely justified by the many benefits it offers to seniors. These benefits include better sleep for residents, a decrease in depression, an improvement in symptoms of Alzheimer’s and dementia and fewer falls and accidents.
Surveys and studies by the Kendal Corporation, the Lighting Research Center at Rensselaer Polytechnic in New York and the Schuyler Ridge Residential Health Care in New York, among others, confirm the case for using LED lighting in conjunction with sensors and dimmers:
- A 24-hour controlled LED lighting system increases night sleep for Alzheimer’s and dementia patients and reduces their nocturnal wandering, agitation and abusive outbursts.
- LED lighting and motion sensors reduce sleep disturbances, and ensure that seniors never have to walk into darkened rooms or get out of bed in the dark.
- Improved light levels in bedrooms allow nurses to perform their rounds without turning on lights that create glare and uncomfortable brightness.
- Warm LED lights offset the yellowing of the aging eye lenses, reducing the difficulty of detecting color differences and the lack of visual clarity.
- Warm LED light levels in bathrooms, halls and stairs provide more illumination, reducing the risk of trips and falls.
LED indoor lighting and photo sensors in seniors’ assisted living residences and nursing homes can be used in common areas and individual rooms. As well, LED outdoor lighting can be used in parking areas and landscaping. This type of lighting combines energy efficiency and costs savings for owners with increased comfort and safety for residents, staff and families.
Creative Commons Attribution: Permission is granted to repost this article in its entirety with credit to Retail Lighting and Design and a clickable link back to this page.