Therapeutic lighting can be a prescription for better health, especially for seniors with dementia in long-term care facilities. Now, more and more-effective products are needed to implement the highly positive research results achieved to date. So says a panel of therapeutic-lighting experts assembled by the National Lighting Bureau and the Edison Report. The full, two-part discussion is available for viewing without charge by linking to the National Lighting Bureau website.
Panelists pointed out that some of the most encouraging new uses of lighting are occurring in long-term care facilities. These include:
-simulation of sunrise and sunset, indoors, to better orient patients – especially those suffering from Alzheimer’s – to day and night, in part to inform patients about when they should be sleeping;
-simulation of daylight by using high lighting levels indoors, also to give better definition of night and day, to help patients become better oriented; and
-more sleep, improved sleep quality, and more engagements of patients with other patients and facility staff as a result of simulated daylight indoors.
Panelists generally agreed that what’s now needed to complement traditional, ceiling-mounted fixtures are high-quality, plug-in devices like luminous tables, if only because they achieve desired results and can be purchased by patients’ friends and family; many long-term care facilities have little or no budget for therapeutic-lighting upgrades.
The lighting industry is developing therapeutic lighting for more than just seniors dealing with dementia. For example, research shows that the use of therapeutic lighting to simulate daylighting in intensive-care units can result in faster recovery. Therapeutic lighting has long been used to counteract seasonal affective disorder (SAD).
According to National Lighting Bureau Chair Howard P. Lewis (Viscor Group of Companies), who represents the Illuminating Engineering Society (IES) on the Bureau’s board and served on the “Light and Health” panel, “We are only now beginning to understand the strength of the relationship between light and health, and how better lighting can impact human performance, especially on the part of those whose normal intellectual facilities have been compromised by disease or injury. But lighting’s impact is not at all limited to helping the ill. We’ve also seen that daylighting in classrooms can improve math and English test scores. We do not yet fully comprehend why that is, but efforts to learn that should not deter application of what we have learned so far. It’s extremely encouraging.”
National Lighting Bureau directors who participated in the panel discussion included, in addition to Mr. Lewis:
-Jay Goodman, Founder, LumenOptix, LLC;
-Mary Beth Gotti, L.C., Manager, Lighting & Electrical Institute, GE Lighting; and
-Mark Lien, L.C., CLEP, CLMC, HBDP, LEED BD&C, Director, Government & Industry relations, OSRAM SYLVANIA.
The guest panelist was Mark S. Rea, Ph.D., Director, Lighting Research Center and Professor of Architecture and Cognitive Sciences at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Edison Report editor Randy Reid served as panel moderator.