Light Therapy

Penn State announced a new grant to study light therapy and dementia. The National Institute on Aging will provide a $411,982 grant to researchers. They will study the effects of light therapy or ambient lighting interventions in nursing homes.

Lead researcher Ying Ling Jao noted that prior research suggests interior daylight conditions in nursing homes do not expose residents to sufficient sunlight to stimulate circadian rhythm. This may aggravate dementia symptoms. As such, Jao said, interventions using bright lights may offer positive effects.

“Lighting interventions provide a non-invasive, non-pharmacological treatment for the behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia and have been widely accepted and applied in nursing homes to reduce agitation and other symptoms. But traditional lighting intervention methods have fundamental gaps that must be addressed.”

A review of the scientific literature indicates that ambient lighting interventions are an efficient alternative to traditional light-box interventions. Daylight would be best but that might be difficult in short-staffed facilities.