Reduce Senior Falls and Injuries with these Simple Lighting Tips
As we age, normal changes in the eye impair our eyesight. The pupils become smaller and almost fixed in size. Because less light enters the eye, it becomes much harder to adjust to changes in brightness. The lenses in our eyes become thicker and darker, turning an amber color as we age. This filters out some of the light. A person 60 receives about 30% less light into their eye then a person at age 20.
Light affects, and helps regulate a lot of the processes in the body: sleep, mental health, body temperature, and the sleep cycle. Melatonin production occurs at night, and bright lights can interfere with that, even stop it. After 8 pm, lighting should be adjusted to only soft, warm lights. Bright, natural, and blue lighting produces Serotonin, which we need to keep us awake and alert during the day. Being exposed to brighter lights at bedtime, or during the night, can slow and even stop Melatonin production. Recently, it has been discovered that red night lights are the best type. They still provide enough illumination to help us see at night, but don't disturb Melatonin production, and allow us to go back to sleep soundly after getting up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom. Brighter night lights, or turning on room lights at night can disturb our sleep for the remainder of the night.
Sunlight is essential in producing Vitamin D. We all need at least 20 minutes a day of direct sun exposure to produce enough Vitamin D to be effective. Vitamin D has been shown to be effective in helping the body absorb Calcium, which is essential for healthy bones, cells, and organs. Most older people are deficient in Vitamin D because of decreased mobility. Always encourage your elderly patients and family to go outside at least once a day to get some exposure to direct sunlight. According to research, this doesn't reduce the number of elderly falling, but it does the amount of hip fractures from falls by 85%!
Proper lighting can help ease Alzheimer's symptoms too. Bright, natural light exposure between 10 AM and Noon, and again between 4-6 pm, helps improve cognition and memory. Turning off computers, cell phones, and TV after 8 pm, and using only red night lights after 9 pm helps with getting a better night's sleep, and reduces the need for sleeping medication. These proper lighting techniques help reduce the deterioration of activities of daily living by 53%.
Addressing these needs for proper lighting helps seniors offset visual difficulties, provides safe navigation, reduces depression and aids in controlling circadian rhythms, and increases Vitamin D production.