These has been several discussions over the fact that lighting has immense impact on people with dementia—an illness that slowly erode the memory. Researches have found that lighting can be used to improve dementia patient’s memory and perception of their surroundings.
Majority of the people with dementia are aged, and older people need more light than younger people to read or do other things. Dementia patients need twice even more light than older people, stated lighting dementia expert, David McNair, at an interview with Luxlive. For more than 11 years, McNair studied the dementia environments with experts at the University of Stirling.
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He pointed out that dementia patients should be exposed to 24 hours cycle of light and darkness, as this could improve their health. This theory is based on the fact that light has profound impact on the circadian rhythms, which is important for our health.
McNair pointed out lighting the environment of dementia patient should be done carefully, with contrast of lighting for example, for walls and floor, as a dementia person may not be able to differtiate between a wall and the floor because of his incapability to perceive the environment properly.
So when lighting the environment for dementia patients, daylight should be used wherever possible. If these patients are exposed to high levels of light during the day, there will be less incidents of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), and reduce sundowning, which is common amongst patients with Alzheimer’s disease, he said.
Studies have also proved that turning up the lights during daytime improve behavior in adults with dementia. Little light can throw off the sensitive balance of the circadian timing system, leading to sleep woes.
St. Augustinus Memory Center in Neuss, Germany, is experimenting with tunable LED lighting from Osram to observe the impact of different light frequencies and intensity on dementia patients’ wellbeing.
The center is trying to determine which color temperature is optimal for dementia patients. It is also trialing a certain light that mimic natural day light patterns and thus support circadian rhythm. And the third type of light is being tried with the aim to minimize falls of dementia patients by using with different levels of lighting intensity.