Lighting strategies can reduce the impact of Dementia

At the outset of this article we would like to make it clear that we do not provide dementia lights or lighting programmers. However, we felt we had to share some “enlightening” research from the Dementia Services Development Centre.

You may ask “Why do you care?”. After all, most informative articles disguise personal benefit!

From a selfish perspective: Dementia diagnosis is on the rise and we all have to face the reality that already 15% of all persons over 80 years of age suffer from Dementia. As our life expectancy is rising, many persons reading this article will go on to suffer from the condition. Let’s make sure we put in place the environments needed to allow us to continue to enjoy life after dementia.

How can lighting help?

Often when planning a care home interior, we plan the lighting with 2 purposes in mind:

  1. A “well-lit” interior
  2. Aesthetically pleasing light fitments

You may be aware that research has shown that improved care home lighting can lead to a reduction in slip and fall incidents. Did you know, however, what the impact is of incorrect lighting on our Circadian rhythm? Do you understand how differently the light in a care home is perceived by the users compared to the operators and carers?

For those unfamiliar with the term, the circadian rhythm is a 24-hour cycle in the physiological processes of living beings, including plants, animals, fungi and cyanobacteria. At a fundamental level, circadian rhythms are produced or synthesised by processes within an organism, but they can be modulated by external cues such as sunlight and temperature. It controls when our blood pressure rises and decreases, when our reaction times increase and decrease and when our body secretes melatonin. In simple terms, it dictates how we feel in terms of energy levels and how well we sleep at night. Many elderly persons (particularly with Dementia) have a disrupted circadian rhythm which leads to poor sleeping patterns which can cause tiredness and increased stress levels.


Correct choice of bulbs, correct LUX values in the correct areas and a daily lighting strategy are all key to a good environment for any elderly person living with Dementia. Research showed that the introduction of an environment where residents were exposed to intense lighting slowly increased (to 1000lux) and then reduced over a 2-hour period resulted in:

  • Improved mood
  • Reduced Stress
  • Improved physical wellbeing
  • Reduced requirement for carers input

Further research also showed that the introduction of a high quality Circadian Rhythm system reduced distressed behaviour in the residents by 49%. The benefits of the reduced stress levels for both residents and staff is incalculable.

A room lit at 200 LUX will typically appear very bright to a 25 year old with 20/20 vision. For a 75 year old with thickened lens and decreased range of light frequency they may need 400-500 LUX to see things the same way.

When planning your home think about the following points:

  1. What light colour? Choose bulbs that allow you to change tone from red/yellow to blue during the day and back to red/yellow in the evening.
  2. How much light? You need areas of intense light and relaxed areas of lower lighting.
  3. How will light levels be controlled (an automatic programmer or staff training)?

If you would like more information, please get in touch. We will gladly share the data on correct LUX levels and some tips on how to create a “lower budget” circadian rhythm lighting system.