Bright light can ease dementia symptoms

By Tom Nordlie • Published: September 12th, 2008
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Dementia quite literally dims the minds of its victims.

It’s not a disease per se, but rather a collection of symptoms that may be caused by many disorders.

Dementia’s hallmark is declining intellectual ability, which can affect memory, reasoning, language skills and emotional stability.

But there’s a ray of hope, and it comes from a light fixture.

A study published recently in the Journal of the American Medical Association showed that exposure to bright light reduced the ravages of dementia.

In the study, researchers partnered with twelve assisted-care facilities in Holland.

At six facilities, bright lights were installed in communal living areas and kept on eight hours a day. At the other facilities, less-bright lights were used.

A total of ninety-four residents were involved.

Researchers assessed their mental functioning before enrollment, six weeks into the study, and then every six months for up to three-and-a-half years.

The results showed that bright light reduced cognitive decline by five percent, reduced depressive symptoms by nineteen percent, and slowed the decline of functional limitations by fifty-three percent.

It also improved sleep by two percent.

The researchers concluded that bright light benefited the patients by enhancing their normal waking and sleeping cycles.

There didn’t appear to be any downside to the treatment, either.

So, if someone you love suffers from dementia, it might be a good idea to make sure their living quarters are well-lit.

It could brighten up their days, and yours, too.