According to the study by Mariana G. Figueiro, Ph.D. of the Lighting Research Center at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, N.Y., typical institutional light levels are not high enough during waking hours or tuned to the correct color to activate the circadian system in elderly people with Alzheimer's disease, often resulting in sleep disruption. This disruption causes changes in sleep patterns, confusion in daily routines, decreased alertness, and mood alteration resulting in feelings of depression. Abnormal sleep patterns tend to increase with the progression of Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias (ADRD) and are associated with aggressive behavior and caregiver stress.
To improve the health and quality of life for individuals with ADRD, Figueiro recommends a 24-hour lighting scheme designed to provide high circadian stimulation during the day, low circadian stimulation at night, good visual conditions during waking hours, and nightlights that are safe and minimize sleep disruption. ADRD disrupts higher cognitive processes and may result in significantly greater balance and coordination issues, increasing an individual’s risk for falls. Lighting modifications may reduce the risk of falls, especially at night, when light levels are low.
Christopher Brown and Scott Muse, President of Hubbell Lighting, are leading an effort to integrate Figueiro’s research findings into the design and construction of Abe’s Garden, the only Alzheimer’s community in the nation founded exclusively to develop and disseminate evidence-based best practices in dementia care, and continue development of state-of-the-art lighting strategies by raising $150,000 to fund the Research Office at Abe’s Garden. Those wishing to participate in the initiative may make a tax-deductible contribution at http://abesgarden.org or text MEMORY to 20222 to make a $10 contribution (Message and Data Rates May Apply)
“Light is the most powerful synchronizer of the human circadian clock, and the timing and type of light exposure during the course of a day is responsible for how the circadian clock is synchronized with the environment,” says Muse. “Our industry is developing lighting products that have a positive impact on the way people live their lives, and we are pleased to work with Abe’s Garden to move those from lab to reality.”